Over the years following my study abroad in Australia, several of my international friends visited me. I was thrilled to see them but always struggled with where to take them. After taking them on a tour of my campus, feeding them North Carolina barbecue, and introducing them to my local friends, I was always at a loss for what to show them about my hometown. It’s a fantastic place to grow up, but what here appeals to someone just stopping through?
It took me a few years, but since graduating I’ve really grasped what this place has to offer. The idyllic college campus is only the beginning: the variety of fun, the arts presence, the scope of restaurants and the access to nature only scratch the surface of what makes the Triangle special.
A year and a half ago I consciously set out to take in as much as the Triangle has to offer. A journey to drink deeply and eat heartily of the offerings of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill.
I’ve had some fantastic meals and awesome experiences. From my first 5k to the state fair, from tapas to breweries to untold hours at coffeeshops, I’ve loved soaking in all the options that my little corner of the world has to offer.
As with any bucket list, there’s always so many things that I did and LOVED but never managed to write about or take pictures of before we moved. So below are some of my unsung heroes of the Triangle Bucket List:
- Thai Cafe: Located only 200 feet from our apartment, this place is my go to when one of us had a bad day. Curry has become my comfort food, and Thai Cafe is happily to blame for it. By far, the best curry I’ve had in the Triangle.
- QShack: See above, but substitute delicious BBQ. My choice of actual barbecue is the pulled pork, but the wings are the my favorite ones in Durham. Get the sweet potato tots and prepare to be amazed.
- 411 West: Classic Italian food. The salads are quality, the pasta is better, and it’s a Chapel Hill establishment. More importantly, this place is really special in the “date” category, because Logan and I had our first date here and then our families waited there for us after we got engaged!
- UNC basketball game: as a lifelong fan and then college student this was underrated on my list. Going to UNC basketball games is like nothing else in this world. For two hours one night your whole world becomes the players, the court, the atmosphere, the fans, the sweat, the noise. It’s that good.
- Yogurt Pump: a Franklin Street classic. Frozen yogurt, college town style.
- Cuban Revolution: tapas, Cuban style. My favorite is getting a bunch of appetizers to share, but the meals are fantastic too.
- Monuts and Rise: There are ridiculous levels of donut amazingness here. Monuts is my personal favorite. Apparently they have amazing breakfast sandwiches too, but I’ve never strayed from the sugary goodness. Rise is also phenomenal; they’re known for a maple bacon donut that kills. Logan and I alternate between the two.
- Gonza Tacos y Tequila: in Raleigh and Durham, and such good Mexican food. Thanks to some friends I recently discovered their Mexican Flag dish, which is a smorgasbord of taco goodness.
- Vin Rouge: French loveliness. My advice? Be prepared to ask questions, or go in knowing classic French dishes, because the menu’s not really in English. But I’ve eaten there multiple times and loved everything I’ve tasted.
- Maple View Farms Ice Cream: Rocking chairs, sunsets, and simple tasty ice cream. Spend a spring afternoon here soaking in the glow.
- Ponysaurus Brewery: Hard to believe I didn’t share about this place, I’ve been several times and drink their beer at lots of local restaurants. Best part is the outdoor seating on a summer night!
There are so many more great places in Raleigh Durham and Chapel Hill! I truly love this area. While I’m excited to explore our new home, North Carolina will always hold a special place in my heart.
Where are your favorite places in the world?
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