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raleigh, nc design guide

by Grace Bonney


Our Raleigh City Guide update comes to us from local graphic designer and photographer Amy Jones. as a graduate of North Carolina State College of design, Amy has come to know and love the city of Raleigh.  Today she adds onto Darling Dexter’s Whitney Barnes original guide with some of the must-see locales, eateries and shops in this historical city.  Thanks amy for showing us around!–Stephanie

CLICK HERE for the full city guide after the jump!

As the capital of North Carolina, Raleigh stands as a richly historic city on the brink of cultural explosion. Now in a period of urban renewal and downtown revitalization, what once was a small city is now transforming in front of our eyes. Its geographic location in the center of the state allows easy access to the mountainous west, the coastal east, and everything in between. It fuses small town charm with urban living to produce a plethora of trendy restaurants, unique shopping, intriguing vintage markets, and sweet southern hospitality. What makes Raleigh so appealing is that it is part of the larger Research Triangle metropolitan region consisting of three main cities: Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. Together, the “Triangle” region is home to collegiate powerhouses (Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill, NC State), Research Triangle Park (land of high-tech companies and empires), and a bounty of design/cultural experiences.

On the First Friday of every month, the artsies come out in droves to local museums for food, drink, music, and plenty of pleasure for the eye. A good starting point is Artspace – a community arts center housing studios, open exhibitions, and arts instruction. After taking in two levels of local creativity, grab a rickshaw and head on over to Lump Gallery for exhibitions of paintings, drawings, sculpture and more from a wide range of contemporary artists. Even if you don’t make it over to the warehouse-turned-culturally-aware churchVintage 21 for their gallery presentations, your artistic palette will be satisfied by night’s end. And what to wash it all down you ask? Stop by one of the downtown watering holes such as Raleigh Times Bar (a former newspaper building recently renovated to pay homage to its historic past) or The Big Easy (phonetically and tastefully New Orleans). Once your thirst is whetted, hop across the street to the “The Fish Market” (NCSU College of Design’s gallery) for presentations from up-and-coming artists/designers.

The one thing you MUST DO as soon as you arrive in Raleigh is to take a segway tour of downtown / historic Raleigh. Nothing makes a Raleighite’s day like seeing 13 segways riding single file down the street, and there is no better way to get acquainted with the city. And shame on you if you live in Raleigh and haven’t done this!  Cap your ride off with a visit to the Raleigh City Museum and you’ll be an expert by the end of the day.

Speaking of advances in transportation, Raleigh has taken its first stab at generating more interest in downtown via easy transportation with the new R-Line – buses loop in and around downtown and you can hop on at any of the R-stops FREE! I love free!

An unexpected national attraction to Raleigh is the NC Museum of Art. It was a decent gallery in years past but is reopening April 2010 with a huge new addition which will house the permanent collection, making more room for rotating exhibits. Part of the museum is an interactive art park which connects to the greenway trail that goes all over the City and is a great place to bike, run, or take the dog! In the spring JC Raulston Arboretum is a great place to take the ol’ Holga, picnic, or even get married! The laboratory beds are open to the public – it’s always interesting to see what kinds of plants people are testing in the NC soil & climate. One of my first projects at the NCSU College of Design was designing a map & brochure for the gardens!

Any city without a local roller derby league definitely loses some cool points now that I’ve lived in Raleigh and know what it’s all about. The Carolina Rollergirls teams are sure to put on a good show- even if you don’t understand how points are scored (you will after 3 bouts or so), you are plenty entertained by these amazons on skates and the people sitting around you  (pictured the Trauma Queens vs. the Tai-Chi Tahs, by Raleigh photographer Joshua R. Craig).

Side note- if you’re addicted to “Dexter” like I am, you’ll be interested to know actor Michael C. Hall went to high school in Raleigh.


Stitch: Stitch serves as the design studio for handbag designer, Holly Aiken. Aiken creates handcrafted bags completely from vintage-inspired vinyl. Beaming in unique color combinations, Stitch houses her latest collections and super discounted treasures.

Father & Son Antiques: A hub of vintage flair, you can find it all here. Be it an Eames era chair, a classy leisure suit, or a Benjamin Miracord turntable – you are certain to get in touch with your inner mod on one of their four floors of vintage clothes, house wares, furniture, records, and gallery spaces. If you can’t find it here, it probably never existed.

Ornamentea: This crafty haven not only offers a fabulous collection of beads, they also have some of the finest beading classes in the state. Situated in a lime green, converted warehouse, it’s a can’t miss for local hobbyists and professional crafters.

Askew Taylor Paints: A disheveled art supply store offering everything you could think of – but only that which you can find. Known to the locals as “the” art supply store, this 60+-year-old store overwhelms newcomers by its size and unorganized nature. If you are looking for something specific, you are better off just asking where it is! But have no fear, this controlled chaos is a treasure-trove of artistic must-haves.

Accipiter: One-of-a-kind boutique in Cameron Village perfect for home décor and unique/unusual gifts. If you are in the market for jewelry made by local artisans or just trying to find the perfect Galileo finger puppet, you are sure to be here.

NOFO at the Pig: Whimsical, daring, and delightful accessories for the home and garden describe this west Raleigh shop and eatery.

SomethingPressed: Ryan Cook, who happens to be a good friend from design school, has recently opened a letterpress shop! And let me tell you, he’s probably the most anal typesetter I’ve ever met. Here’s his photo of some cards he sold for Valentines Day this year.

Adam Peele: Maker of the most intricate seam-crossing ink-loving screenprinted apparel I’ve ever seen. Right next door to SomethingPressed and you can pretty much count on him being at the Rock & Shop. Give your brother a Peele shirt and see if you don’t become his favorite sibling. Worked for me!

Rock & Shop: Held annually, The Rock & Shop is a downtown event that proves to be the perfect combination for buying handmade and indulging in music from some of Triangle’s best independent acts. A definite must-go.

Handmade Market: As the name might suggest, this is a fabulous handmade market. Always brings out some of the best indie designers in NC. Again- you Must. Go.

Furbish Studio: Interior design shop, full of pretty things.

Revival Antiques: Located on the warehouse side of Capital Blvd near downtown, one would not normally think to stop in here. It’s just not all that inviting of a location. But there are so many affordable treasures inside! My husband and I bought a  wonderful farmhouse table there, and were tempted to buy most of the other pieces of furniture, too. And if you don’t find what you’re looking for on the floor, walk down the sidewalk to the storage warehouse, where you can pick out your piece and buy it as-is or ask Jim to fix it up however you like!

Moxie Kids: I might be biased because I got to design the logo, etc, but this is definitely a store for kids who are hipsters or kids who were born to hipsters. We don’t even have kids in the works and I bought a Raleigh kid t-shirt there to hang onto for posterity!

Rebus Works– an art gallery & shop dedicated to presenting compelling and innovative works in the Boylan Heights neighborhood.

Habitat ReUse Center – 42,000 sqft of salvaged building materials. Great for home renovation projects plus your purchases support Habitat for Humanity, a volunteer run organization that builds houses for those in need

The State Farmers Market – Buy a bouquet of flowers, fresh baked bread and of course fresh veggies from the dozens of farmers selling their goods. Or eat some delish country cooking at the Farmers Market Restaurant across the street (between the two pig statues).

Alter Ego: Hair salon + art gallery downtown. Everyone looks like a magazine cover.

Lather: Down-to-earth hair salon in NW Raleigh where the stylist are from places like Roxboro and have sweet accents. And bonus! They give you the cut you want!


The Borough: Local crafter Bliss Alexander-Smith says to order the brute squad. I would do as Bliss says.

The Morning Times: This little coffee shop (connected to the Raleigh Times bar) features really nice baristas, delicious egg sandwiches, a comfy sitting area upstairs, free-wireless and completely-booked art gallery. They encourage people to come hang out even if they aren’t buying anything.

Tir Na Nog: Bar / music venue features local bands & local brews every Thursday night. It’s where I downed my first whole pint of Guinness before allowing it to get warm. Also strangely has a great Sunday brunch.

Sitti:  The Lebanese food in this downtown Raleigh restaurant is great but what you can’t help but love is the atmosphere! Empire properties does a wonderful job of updating historical buildings while keeping some of the old-Raleigh appeal and making it work for the occupant.

Dos Taquitos: The original Dos Taquitos is located in a strip shopping center in northwest Raleigh, and is the absolute best Mexican food in town. The walls are rife with memorabilia and instead of taking your name they’ll hand you a toy and call out your toy when your table is ready. And the margaritas are delish. There is also a Dos Taquitos Centro in downtown Raleigh but you should so go to the other location to get the full menu (and lower prices).

Mitch’s Tavern: Many an NC State student as well as Kevin Costner has frequented Mitch’s across from the NCSU campus. The bar scene in the movie Bull Durham was filmed there, but otherwise, it’s just a very chill locals’ place to get a drink and “Rudolfo’s Feast.” Don’t miss the stairs to the right of Global Village Coffee. And don’t let the crappy website fool you.

Lynnwood Grille: This pub in northwest Raleigh is the epitomy of neighborhood bar with the widest and most affordable menu I can think of. And I can walk there from my house and sit outside with my dog. Oh, and you can swap your side of fries for pickle chips. Yeah… one of my favorite places.

Ole Time BBQ: Carolina BBQ in the traditional small-town diner style. Texans do not like it.

Abbey Road: BEST burger place in the Triangle happens to be in a converted gas station in Cary and themed with Beatles paraphernalia. They grind their own meat so have it cooked like you like!

Krispy Kreme: When it comes to doughnut loyalty any Raleighite has to claim Krispy Kreme and has probably been going to this Peace St location since they were little. It’s been on that corner for 60+ years! Watch for the “hot” sign to get lit.

Mez: Slightly upscale “gourmet” Mexican… like Dos Taquitos in its “Sunday best.”

Larry’s Beans is a local company specializing in fair trade & organic coffee

Scratch Bakery – Pheobe Lawless makes the best baked goods using local & organic ingredients. I especially love her Sweet Potato Empanadas. Find her at markets around town or buy into her “community supported pie” concept

If you are near the North Carolina State Campus be sure to check out locopops, a local chain that creates gourmet popsicles with flavors like basil and tequila!

Lilly’s Pizza in Five Points offers up tasty pizzas with mostly organic & vegetarian-friendly ingredients in a rawkus punk-rock environment

NCSU Ice Cream: Eat ice cream from the vet school dairy. It’s the best, and cheap!


Rialto Theatre: the best old theatre for new independent films, the Rialto also screens Rocky Horror Picture Show every Friday night at midnight for those wishing to indulge in their secret love of cult musicals.

Lincoln Theater: From mainstream pop acts to local indies, this newly renovated music hall hosts the best of live entertainment in downtown Raleigh.

Pour House Music Hall: On Wednesday nights your thirst for song and drink will be well served at “mug night” – good beverage and great local music.

Koka Booth Amphitheatre: Quaint little outdoor venue showing everything from Wilco to outdoor movies during the summer.

Not only is Raleigh just a few hours from the mountains AND the beach, it’s also really close to Durham & Chapel Hill. So I have to list a few faves from each of those places:

Durham Top Ten:

The Scrap Exchange: This non-profit organization reclaims industrial discards including fabric, paper, boxes, wood, glass, metal scraps, and more to resale at discounted prices.

Branch Gallery: This contemporary art museum houses national and international emerging artists. The gallery has a strategy of showing two artists at one time: a well-known with an unknown in order to expose up and coming artists and further showcase the well-established.

LabourLove Gallery: John Pelphrey and Kelly Dew opened LabourLove over at GoldenBelt in the hopes of bringing art to Durham that people could actually afford. They want to be of service to young artists AND be welcoming to everyone which they are seriously successful at – if you stop by it feels like you’re visiting an old friend! You can also attend an art party there which includes a glass of wine & materials for one fun evening!

The Nasher Museum: Serving as a leading university museum on Duke University’s campus, this young museum is a cultural meeting place for students and community members. Its stunning architecture combined with a multidisciplinary approach to presenting contemporary art and its place in the modern world we inhabit, make a day at this museum thought-provoking and pleasing for any eye.

Watts Grocery: Using mostly local and organic ingredients, longtime local chef Amy Tornquist of Sage & Swift creates a rotating menu full of foods that reinterpret her North Carolina roots. Don’t skip the hush puppies- the dip that comes with them could be sold by the gallon to people like me who just end up dipping their fingers in it.

Duke Gardens: The university’s public garden is just beautiful- a great place to make a photography date in any season. It attracts visitors from all over the world. Definitely a don’t-miss.

Full Frame Film Festival: This international festival is focuses on every aspect of documentary film. Drawing in some of the biggest names in film (see: Scorsese) as well as undiscovered talent, the Full Frame Festival is an event not to be missed.

Durham Bulls Athletic Park: Minor league baseball right next to the American Tobacco complex makes for a great evening! Head over to Tyler’s Taproom after the game. If the restaurant is full go get a drink at the speakeasy.

DPAC: Grandest place in the Triangle to see a Broadway show or other production for 20,000+ seats. Of course, this is still Durham- you can wear jeans OR an evening gown and be appropriately dressed!

DSI Comedy Theater: An interesting twist on the usual improv show, Mister Diplomat features a local celebrity  or other special guest telling stories off of which the improv actors take cues. I also love a good student show where everyone is delightfully self-aware!

Chapel Hill / Carrboro Top Ten:

Cat’s Cradle: Best local venue for indie shows. I hugged Ben Kweller there.

Nested: A little boutique housing the best in home interiors and gifts. From quality handmade items to marimekko fabric, there is a treasure here for everyone.

Carr Mill: This converted cotton mill is home to several local boutiques and eateries. Businesses include: Elmo’s Diner, Wootini (shop & gallery of vinyl & plush art toys), The Original Ornament, and Mulberry Silks and Fabrics.

Aveda Institute: Let the Aveda students cut or color your hair- cheap!

Cameron’s: A unique collection of handmade gifts, jewelry, accessories, and more. The perfect place to find something cute, quirky, or just plain lovely.

Crook’s Corner: This local eatery is the perfect combination of southern delight with uptown class. With a pig on the roof, it can’t be missed.

Mama Dip’s: for the best in down-home, country cooking – this place can’t be beat. Sweet tea, fried chicken, and homemade pies have brought crowds here in droves for 30 years. You can usually find the namesake herself on any given day to sign your cookbook or just say hello.

Maple View Creamery: Okay, so it’s not quite Chapel Hill, but it’s still Orange County although it feels like you’re in the English countryside. And the homemade ice cream doesn’t hurt. I don’t have a problem eating it at looking out over a field of the cows who helped produce it! Don’t taste the fresh milk unless you’re willing to develop a habit of driving out there every time you need a gallon.

Banditos: Hole-in-the-wall Mexican off of Franklin Street in case you’re trapped in Chapel Hill and can’t make it to Dos Taquitos. Take on the El Gigante and get your picture on the wall!

Suggested For You


  • Hello there,

    I enjoy reading your city guides and I’d love to write a guide to my home town of Nottingham, England. Just thought it’d be great to contribute a British city to your guide section. Let me know if this would be possible!


  • I have also performed at North Carolina Theater and not only is it a gorgeous space, the theater is FANTASTIC quality. Basically, the Broadway of the South!

  • I have also performed at the Norh Carolina Theater and not only is it a gorgeous space, the theater produced there is FANTASTIC quality. Basically, the Broadway of the South!

  • She forgot to mention Cameron Village! The newly renovated outdoor shopping mall has tons of cute stores and the Junior League’s Bargain Box is a great place to find used vintage gems.

    I grew up in Raleigh and went to school in Chapel Hill so I’m SO glad to see it getting some shine!

    *Love the Triangle!*

  • I fell in love with Jen Garrido’s work at Branch Gallery in Durham–it’s a fabulous little space! For foodies I recommend Guglhupf, a charming German bakery with great pastries and a hip indoor/outdoor cafe (also in Durham).

  • Oh! How exciting! Might I add: check out Dolly’s (a delightful vintage clothing store) in downtown Durham at Brightleaf Square, and Parker and Otis for a delicious grilled pimento cheese sandwich. Great job Whitney: I’ve lived here my whole life and there were (great) things on the list I’ve never heard of!

  • GO RALEIGH! I went to school there and have so many good memories around town. You hit on all the good spots. For the clubbers, try Glenwood Ave. – the whole road is devoted to clubs, bars, and restaurants.

  • Courtney mentioned Dolly’s in Brightleaf square – there is also a new store next door to Dolly’s called Portobello Road, it has all types of Vintage – mostly housewares. Kippy the owner buys vintage furniture and has them recovered in her fabric choices – and I must say they are perfect. This one is a little special to me because it was my first completed interior design job at my new job at Belk Architecture (also in Durham)!

  • If in Raleigh over the summer, check out the NC Art Museum’s schedule of outdoor movies and concerts. One of my favorite summer activities is taking a picnic dinner and bottle of wine to an outdoor movie and stretching out on their lawn, which overlooks some of the outdoor exhibits!

  • Yay for Raleigh!! I grew up here and it’s great to see it on your design guide (and to learn some new places to visit). Thanks so much for including us! :) Now I need to go plan my weekend to visit these places!

  • As a Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill Resident … I just wanted to tell you …. shhhhhh! The Triangle’s bests are our best kept secret! :) Well spotted. Ornamentea has a fabulous sister store as well! Only thing missing from this list is a breakfast/coffee hang out.
    Oh and also there’s free wi-fi everywhere in Carrboro!

  • Also, inside Father & Son Antiques is a shop called 2nd Floor Vintage, which sells vintage clothing and accessories. And down by NC State is a great restaurant called Porter’s-try the tempura green beans and tavern chips, you’ll be hooked!

  • Locopops, the gourmet popsicle store, has branches in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill — so no excuses! It’s fabulous.

  • oh, horray! i am moving back to raleigh to (hopefully) attend the nc state college of design graphic design programme. i’m quite happy to see this list of places i definitely missed the first time through. thank you! =)

  • Roulette Vintage is a cute vintage clothing shop in Carrboro next to Nested, and Carrburritos is a great little burrito place on the edge of Chapel Hill and Carrboro. Time After Time is stocked full of vintage clothing, and Uniquities is a great boutique of the latest styles – both are located on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill. A good place for breakfast in Chapel Hill is Ye Olde Waffle Shoppe, and don’t forget to get some biscuits from Sunrise Biscuit Chicken! You can check out some of my pictures from the area here.

  • I am from Dallas but my name is Rebecca too and I love Locopops! The Mexican chocolate ones are so good you have to get 2.

  • I go to UNC but certainly frequent Durham and Raleigh, since they’re both so close.

    Just a few additions in Chapel Hill:

    Weaver Street Market: like a Whole Foods with a whole lot more (it’s actually in Carrboro). :P

    LightYears: A jewelry boutique with lots of unique pieces, as well as purses and random home decor. There’s also one in Cary and Durham, I believe.

  • 3cups (off of Franklin St. in Chapel Hill) is a great coffee shop with single origin coffees… and Sandwich next door has a great lunch menu.

    Ecko furniture in Chapel Hill sells some good modern stuff.

    If you make the drive to Pittsboro or Hillsborough, you’ll find tons of cute shops and antique stores.

  • so proud of Raleigh! other notable places to visit/mention: Poole’s Diner (newly reopened and FANTASTIC) and Designbox in Raleigh, and Apple Boutique in Chapel Hill.
    Triangle-area creative types, mark Sept. 11 – 14, 2008 on your calendars – the dates of “Spark Con 2008”:http://www.sparkcon.com.

  • Thanks for mentioning us at Rebus Works!
    Some other Raleigh favorites:
    Eat: Poole’s (I’ll second that mention– it’s GREAT), Dos Taquitos Centro, J. Betski’s (fabulous Polish/German food), Mitch’s (great cheap eats), many yummy taquerias– most on the outskirts of town
    Music: Slim’s (late-night, cheap cover), Sadlack’s (bands outside, all kinds of folks, a total dive), Tir Na Nog’s WKNC Local Beer/Local Band on Thursday’s.
    Art: As mentioned, Artspace (make sure you check out the emerging artist-in-residence) and Lump Gallery. Also, Flanders 311 and Designbox, both on Martin Street, consistently show interesting work.

    In Durham:
    Art: Bull City Arts Collaborative, home to Fort Grunt, and the fabulous letterpress studio Horse and Buggy Press studio. They also have great exhibitions. And, Branch, as mentioned above. Stellar exhbitions there.
    Food: Rue Cler (yummy and reasonable French food) and Piedmont (regional, good, exciting food).

  • I came across Stitch, Holly Aiken’s
    shop, while visiting from Seattle. She makes wonderful bags which everyone should own!

  • Has no one mentioned A Southern Season? It’s Chapel Hill’s landmark gourmet market. Everything you ever dreamed of! If you love unique jewelry, be sure to visit Creative Metalsmiths on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill. Beautiful, beautiful work and stunning attention to detail. While at the Hill, be sure to stop into the Carolina Inn for high tea or drinks/dinner at Crossroads Bar and Grill. If you’re wanting something a little more
    “pubby”, enjoy great food an a tremendous beer catalogue at Milltown, right on Rosemary Street in CH. Also on Franklin Street, Design 149 has really fabulous, modern meets throwback dresses and accessories. Finish off your day with a drink at West End Winebar (CH), Glass Half-Full (Carrboro) or a ginger martini at Talullah’s. It really is the Southern Part of Heaven!

  • this makes me miss my old city so much! I also recommend Moshi Moshi on Franklin St. in Chapel Hill, it’s a funky salon with an eclectic collection of hair products and Japanese imports. and you have to try the pho at Pho Cali, on Capital Blvd in Raleigh. thanks for your great coverage of RTP, and go ‘heels!

  • As for a great breakfast/coffee spot, I suggest you visit Morning Times, which is next to Raleigh Times. In the heart of downtown, it offers free coffee on First Friday nights, and the art gallery upstairs also provides more seating. Alternatively for those who don’t want to head through traffic, Global Village Organic is excellent. All of the coffee is organic and fair trade, the owner himself is usually working the espresso machine, and the muffins and pastries are ordered fresh every day.
    Go Pack!

  • Great list! I’d like to add The Third Place – the 5 pts independent coffee shop that uses Larry’s Beans…beans roasted in the ‘hood, then brewed in the ‘hood…it doesn’t get any better than this.

  • One more thing, yall….The Downtown Appetite for Art event. An art auction/fund raiser for the local Boys and Girls Clubs. Lots of good food, wine and local art as well as local live music held midsummer.

  • excellent article! but there are a few hidden treasures… amazing greek food lives at neomonde deli, the independant weekly has the most complete concert schedules (free newspaper, they’re everywhere), and if you find yourself completely deprived of collage materials, reader’s corner has a self-serve outside book section open 24 hours a day… just drop what you owe (books are 10 cents or 25 cents) in the door and enjoy. :)

  • Hey all,

    What a great list of Triangle spots to try. I’ll be visiting the area in a few weeks — anyone know of a place to stay that’s fun and funky or close to such things) but not too expensive? Raleigh would be best…

  • THE LAST UNICORN is worth a mention (on the outskirts of Chapel Hill, off Mt. Carmel Church Road, near the Governor’s Club gated entrance). This business is located in a residential area down a country road. They deal in reclaimed architectural elements. As I walk by, I’ve seen wrought iron gates and a few columns, but I feel sure they have lots more, as they have several acres to roam. It looks like a magical place!

  • If you are going to venture out of downtown Ra;eigh make sure you stop by Panopolie (sister store to Ornamentea). The Player’s Retreat is a little diamond in the rough off Oberlin Road (between Cameron Village and N.C. State campus). Go Pack!

  • My boyfriend and I found this great Realtor named Betty Bargoil. She has been awesome to work with. Betty is a native of the Raleigh area and hooked us up. We loved being in Raleigh. Give her a call 919-601-4478. You won’t be disappointed.

  • There’s also an awesome handmade/local-design/revamp clothing boutique called “Tough Love” on Hillsborough St. If you’re coming from downtown it’s right past Nice Price Books and Cup A Joe on your right. Really cute stuff.

  • Durham is a diamond in the rough! I happened upon so many neat places: “Portobello Road” in Brightleaf Square(vintage and recycled furniture and housewares) is one of the most unique places I have been in a long time. I met the owner, Kippy Perkins and she is just as unique! Also, don’t miss “Everything but Grannies Panties” if you’re looking for furniture to recycle!

  • Another comment about Portobello Road in Brightleaf Square….they now are working with an interior designer, her name is Dana Mortensen at http://www.ecointeriors.net. She is amazingly creative in finding ways to reuse what you already have and/or use sustainable materials in your design. If anyone is looking for an interior designer that thinks “green”, I would definitely call her.

  • you should also check out REVOLVER…they used to be in 5 points beside the mail station but they have moved to Glenwood South, diagonal from 518 and across from the Purple Turkish House (upstairs from the bridal shop)…super cute clothes, shoes, jewelry, scarves and art!

  • Hi,

    I consign at Roulette Vintage in Carrboro (right next door to Nested). In addition to all the reasonably priced vintage apparel they have, Roulette is one of the very few places in this area where you can buy clothes and accessories made by local artists. It’s quite a nice shop and I think it deserves a prominent spot in your guide.

  • Hello Raleigh! NC always needs billing. I second the flea market at the fairgrounds, it’s a must. Father & Sons usually has a spot there or you can go to their downtown store. Their handle on Ebay is swankarama.

  • I loooooooove Raleigh! Born and bred….but went to school in Virginia so I know of NONE of the shops mentioned above. I know the area and all the streets though! Will be back there as a bona fide adult! Thanks for helping me get started!xxo

  • I was raised in Raleigh and currently still live there. It still cracks me up how little I know about the town. I did know/been to more than half the places on here. My husband actually knows the owner of Ole Time BBQ, since he was born & raised in Raleigh. Ole Time BBQ is a must, especially if you haven’t had NC BBQ. Be prepared to be called sug, honey, etc. However, one thing that I have noticed that wasn’t mention here is a little place called, “The Eclectic Furniture Garden.” It is located on Wake Forest Road near downtown, right next to a gas station. It has nice pieces of painted furniture and there are price reasonably. Hope that helps! Sorry for the long post! :)

  • Great list of must-visit places in Raleigh. Another fabulous Cameron Village find is Moxie Kids, a modern children’s clothing boutique for sizes 0-8 years. Love their clothes, accessories and service!

  • i thought i’d add/update this list a little bit, and also let prospective area visitors know about the durham list that was just published too- its about 30 minutes from raleigh, and the two cities complement each other well.
    so, downtown raleigh seems to have a new great place open every week!
    to your list i’d add:
    any empire eats restaurant: duck and dumpling, the pit (awesome bbq in the warehouse district), sitti (lebanese), and morning times coffeeshop/raleigh times bar and restaurant.
    the remedy diner on hargett st has awesome pie, the busy bee on wilmington st has great food and drinks and a rooftop bar, and the foundation is in a basement on fayetteville street and has a great locally sourced cocktail menu.
    for downtown shopping, epona and oak in city market has hip handmade goods and a massage/wellness area in the back, and Get Dressed on West St has fabulous vintage threads. hipsteria on glenwood has great mid-century furniture, and peche chocolate is upstairs.
    at night it is fun to catch a rickshaw and experience the different vibes of each area- warehouse district has lots of gay clubs and dance clubs, glenwood is a young, rowdy crowd, and downtown around hargett and wilmington is hipsters w/out too much attitude. if you are here thursday night check out local beer local band night at tir na nog on Blount Street.

  • I’ve spent the past 18 years here in Raleigh and it has truly evolved into a wonderfully creative and diverse area. Some of my fave new restaurants include Sitti for upscale middle eastern fare, Third Place coffee house for great coffee, soups and sammies, and Poole’s for some of the best handcrafted food around! For die-hard classics, try Roast grill (hot dogs), Char-Grill (burgers) and Dalat for quick Vietnamese food that’s delish!

  • I know it’s been said, but I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the flea market at the NC State Fairgrounds. I used to live in Raleigh and when I drive up from Atlanta to visit my mother, I ALWAYS go to the flea market. It’s still the best one I’ve been to.
    For info on the Raleigh/Durham area’s mid-century modern houses, go to http://www.trianglemodernisthouses.com, an excellent resource plus tours.

  • We’re opening an office in Raleigh and using this guide to help us find the eclectic and artistic parts of the city.

    Any suggestions? We would like something street level near other local businesses that deal with art and design.


  • So happy to see the new additions to this list! All of the Raleigh recommendations are right on (especially The Borough)!

    For Carrboro/Chapel Hill, here are a few additions to the top 10: Carrburritos offers up some seriously delicious Mexican food and Sandwhich on Franklin St. is also delicious. A visit to Carrboro also isn’t complete without some people watching on the lawn at Weaver St. Market, connected to Carr Mill, and some caffeine from Open Eye Cafe, a hipster’s/grad student’s paradise.

  • Great additions, yes, but you’re still missing some fabulous things… Poole’s Diner serves up some of the best food in the area (just ask the James Beard Foundation who just named chef Ashley Christensen as a semi-finalist for SE chef of the year) with an unbeatable atmosphere. Also missing the new retail shop, The Curatory, for Raleigh Denim wares. And close to that the new Contemporary Art Museum will be open by summer. Great article, but add a few things for sure!

  • Also in Durham– Full Steam Brewery and Granny’s Panties thrift shop! The Chapel Hill Botanical Garden is also wonderful to visit.

  • For food in Raleigh, I have to add Escazu Chocolates, delicious, hand-crafted chocolate in the Mordecai neighborhood (try the chocolate sea salt bar and the spicy hot chocolate)

    Market, the restaurant next door

    Bickett Market, a small neighborhood grocery that stocks local farm sourced produce.

    Pooles is truly amazing food, a must go to.

    And coming mid-March, Piebird, a pie shop on Peace Street near the Krispy Kreme.

    For shopping, a little known secret too is that that boutique NOFO now has a quite large and dedicated section that carries hip, handmade North Carolina goods.

  • Great guide, Father & Sons, NoFo and Lilly’s Pizza are three of my Raleigh faves. I have to add Poole’s Downtown Diner – (arguably the best restaurant in Raleigh), Hayes Barton Cafe and Dessertery and Five Star though, because they are some Raleigh restaurants not to be missed!

  • Also, dont forget the Busy Bee Cafe. I believe it has the best beer and the best food in town, for a decent price!

  • for the most amazing BBQ you will ever have in your life, check out THE PIT. their cornbread w/ maple butter is insane. the head chef of the pit beat bobby flay on his show “throwdown with bobby flay”… that says a lot for ed’s skills as a pit master.

  • There are some businesses listed in the Chapel Hill/Carrboro top ten that have moved or have closed.

    I believe that Nested has closed :(

    Wootini is no longer in Carr Mill Mall, they moved to a combined gallery/retail space not a block away at 101 Lloyd St., Carrboro (across from Cat’s Cradle). They share the space with screen printers The Merch .

    Also, check out Kitchen in Chapel Hill for delicious French-inspired locally sourced lunch and dinner.

  • Lots of great things left out of this mix, but good suggestions in the comments. Here’s some more:

    Agreed — Poole’s Diner is amazing. Go to there. As is Market Restaurant, Humble Pie, Capital Club 16, The Borough and Five Star… to name a few. And don’t forget Crumb baked goods for your sweet tooth.

    Get your independent record store on at Schoolkids on Hillsborough St.

    The Curatory showcases Raleigh Denim, and a few other shops like Scout & Molly’s, Fleur and Beanie + Cecil got your closet covered.

    Get your Counter Culture Coffee at Cafe Helios, and get your Joe Van Gogh Coffee at Benelux Cafe in City Market (Robert Plant himself said the espresso was YUMZ).

    Spend your nights listening to great live music at Slim’s or Kings Barcade. New Music Raleigh is kickin’, too.

    Beer tastes good from Big Boss Brewery (downtown), Lone Rider Brewery (North Raleigh) and Aviator Brewery (Fuquay-Varina).

    And of course there is the most amazing music festival this side of the Mason Dixon: Hopscotch (only 197 days away).

    Troika Music Festival, Joe Van Gogh Coffee Shop (Broad St.), Vin Rouge, Heather Garrett Home, Toast, Bull City Records (already mentioned by a previous poster), Fullsteam Brewery, MotorCo Music Hall, Guglhuph, home to Merge Records and more…

    Chapel Hill/Carrboro:
    Live music at Local 506, Sandwhich, coffee from Cup-A-Joe, CD Alley, Nice Price Books…

  • In Chapel Hill, I also like the Pig for barbecue and fried chicken. I believe they source their meat locally (and not at Smithfields) which is cool.

    If I were visiting Chapel Hill from out of town and wanted to hit a local coffee shop, I’d head to Cup of Joe’s (right next to the indie movie theater), Cafe Driade (in the woods), or the new location of 3 Cups (where they now serve good espresso, and also serve wine).

  • seriously great review :)

    if you go to Raleigh Times (and you should) you have to order BBQ nachos – you won’t regret it.

    Another favorite place to eat: Cafe Capistrano, tucked away in North Raleigh this place has the best fresh mexican food and margaritas made with wine instead of tequila. SO good!

    And I’m so glad First Friday is included – it’s awesome. We may have our wedding reception in Artspace! YAY!

  • Some corrections to this list:

    Branch Gallery in Durham closed 2 years ago, unfortunately.

    DSI Comedy Theatre is in Carrboro, not Durham

  • I have to add Cat Banjo in Cameron Village to this list. I love all the affordable ($30 or so for a necklace) jewelry the owner makes. Everything I have ever bought receives tons of compliments! She has just expanded to include more clothing, while cute, it isn’t my style.

  • Hi Grace, I stumbled on this article because I love that picture of Raleigh’s skyline you have on this post. Do you think we can use it and give credit to whoever took the photo for our website? We are a non-profit that is hosting a large conference in Raleigh in 2013 and would like to have a variety of photos of the city sprinkled throughout the website. Let me know. Thanks, Vanessa

  • Hi Grace! LOVE this article but you forgot about the design bloggers in the area! :)

    There are three awesome ladies you should add to your raleigh design guide, because they are awesome!

    Ellie Snow’s (who’s from Durham) design blog Mint (http://www.mintdesignblog.com/),

    Brandi Moody (from Raleigh) who curates the Art & Design blog Ever So Lovely (http://www.eversolovely.com) – she usually covers the First Friday scene in Downtown Raleigh

    and Michelle Smith’s (also from Raleigh) blog Indie NC (http://blog.indienc.com). All three have great sites and should be bookmarked!

  • Great guide, but def use an update…..so much cool stuff going on in Raleigh these days. CAM Raleigh should be on this list as well. (Contemporary Art Museum of Raleigh)

  • Traveling here this weekend! Perhaps it’s time for a guide update? 5 years old, I’m curious to see what’s still relevant. Love your city guide column and use it on all my travels!! xo