City Portrait

Raleigh’s New Hot Spots

From jewelry and jeans to abstract art and global cuisine, a sampling of Raleigh’s inventive side

Photo: Lissa Gotwals

Pork belly soup at Bida Manda.

Where to Eat & Drink

Bida Manda
Laotian cuisine has a proper temple in downtown Raleigh with this serene restaurant and bar. Within the bamboo-covered walls, the menu

Bida Manda's sister-and-brother team, Vanvisa and Vansana Nolintha.

Photo: Lissa Gotwals

Bida Manda’s sister-and-brother team, Vanvisa and Vansana Nolintha.

channels the flavors that the owners, siblings Vansana and Vanvisa Nolintha, remember from their childhood: pork belly swimming in a creamy curried coconut broth, crispy rice salad tucked into lettuce wraps, and a beef tripe larb that’ll really make you sweat.—

Boulted Bread
Three men and a mill: That’s the foundation for Raleigh’s newest artisan bakeshop, where Tar Heel State natives Fulton Forde, Sam Kirkpatrick, and Joshua Bellamy employ house-milled flours to produce the crusty baguettes, tangy French country breads, and seasonal pastries that have locals lining up.—

Foundation Bar
Hardly more than a crawl space before architect Vincent Whitehurst and contractor Will Alphin went to work on it, this subterranean bar had to be excavated by hand. Since it opened, bartenders have set about transforming the city’s cocktail culture one hand-mixed drink at a time. There’s a solid whiskey list, too, and a recently added kitchen that turns out a rotation of seasonal themed menus.—

Joule Coffee
By day, Ashley Christensen’s fourth project serves the best pour-over coffee in town, along with breakfast items like twice-baked grits and fresh croissants. Come nightfall, the casual café morphs into a lively dinner spot. Dishes such as pork boudin cakes with trotter gravy and smoked chicken dirty fried rice meld flavors of the bayou with downtown Raleigh moxie.—

Cocktails at the Stanbury bar.

Photo: Lissa Gotwals

Cocktails at the Stanbury bar.

The playful, genre-bending cuisine of chef Drew Maykuth, formerly of the Admiral in Asheville, keeps this neighborhood place perennially packed. A fixture on the menu, the pig’s head (don’t worry; it’s mostly jowl) croquette topped with a rich poached duck egg is a must-try.—

Standard Foods
Tuck into bowls of rabbit stew with mustard and tarragon at chef Scott Crawford’s just-opened restaurant-cum-grocery at Person Street Plaza, which includes a whole-animal butchery program, a sustainable seafood counter, and an experimental garden with an outdoor fireplace.—

Videri Chocolate Factory
This real-life chocolate factory is open to the public; visitors can watch the bean-to-bar confections produced by hand before enjoying a cup of Stumptown coffee and a bar of Videri’s distinctive dark-milk chocolate combo at the airy on-site café. Or grab a seat on the back patio—it’s BYOB—with a bottle of cabernet and a box of truffles.—

What to See & Do

Antfarm Studios
Leave it to a bunch of artists to see the potential in a network of crumbling warehouses long before anyone else. Founded by a group of NCSU design school grads in 1993, the artists’ collective is home to a rotating cast of painters, woodworkers, metalsmiths, and potters. Stop by the studios on the first Friday of the month during open hours or call ahead to arrange a visit.—

Cam Raleigh
Google Maps as a medium, performance art that requires your participation, and a collective look at America’s most famous minor-league ball club, the Durham Bulls, by ten internationally acclaimed artists and photographers. With no permanent collection, the young museum is free to use its full space to experiment, which means a revolving door of cutting-edge exhibitions with topics that boomerang from cartography to curveballs.—

The Curatory
Raleigh Denim Workshop’s locally crafted jeans are sold in high-end boutiques all over the world, but it’s worth visiting the flagship to see where raw North Carolina–sourced denim becomes the best-fitting pair of blue jeans you’ll ever own. Stocked with every make and fit of the brand’s offerings as well as goods from other like-minded makers such as Raleigh jeweler Kaitlin Ryan, the carefully curated store overlooks the workshop, where a sea of sewing machines whir with activity.—

The modern gallery space at CAM Raleigh.

Photo: Lissa Gotwals

Art and Soul

The modern gallery space at CAM Raleigh.

Furbish Studio
Jamie Meares isn’t afraid to break the rules. Steered by her impeccable taste, she has made a name for herself as a stylist and an interior designer, pairing unlikely patterns, bold colors, and mismatched genres. Meares’s signature color-drenched aesthetic is on full display in her Warehouse District home-goods store, where, among many other items, vintage kilim rugs mingle with abstract Southern art and bamboo butler tray tables.—

Gabrielle Jewelry
Using bits of old lace—often heirlooms supplied by customers—jeweler Gabe Bratton designs one-of-a-kind wearable art. Bratton coats the antique lace remnants in wax before casting them in metals such as bronze or gold. The delicate yet edgy results, formed into bracelets, earrings, necklaces, and cuff links, come with a beautiful patina of history.—

North Carolina Museum of Art
In 2010, this Raleigh institution received an elaborate makeover, with the construction of a new 127,000-square-foot light-filled gallery space to house the museum’s permanent collection, plus a hundred new works, including twenty-nine Rodin sculptures. It also added a sleek fine-dining restaurant, Iris, which spills out onto the 164-acre outdoor campus—the largest museum park in the country.—

Person Street Plaza
This corner stretch about a mile from the center of downtown has renewed an entire neighborhood, thanks to a windfall of exciting new tenants such as Lumina Clothing, a Raleigh-designed, American-made menswear line, and Yellow Dog Bread Company, which sells fresh boules, baguettes, and still-warm-from-the-oven pastries. Also visit Raleigh City Farm, a nonprofit where growers tend small urban plots. Home cooks can stop by on Saturdays to take home a share of the bounty.

Whether you’re after a date-night dress or just want to step up your street style, this North Hills boutique has become Raleigh’s go-to source for high-end fashion. Owner Ashley Harris carries an edited collection of such classic labels as Balenciaga and Proenza Schouler, plus Southern designers such as Wes Gordon and Lela Rose.—

Where to Stay

The Umstead Hotel and Spa
Nine miles from downtown in the Raleigh suburb of Cary, this romantic property is the area’s most luxurious retreat. When you’re not exploring the city, indulge in a treatment at the 16,000-square-foot spa or relax poolside. Most hotel lobbies are predictably uniform, but this one doubles as a gallery, displaying a rotating number of the hotel’s collection, including works from such regional artists as potter Ben Owen III and Asheville painter Scott Upton.—