The Rockford rocks

When you’ve lived in a city for going on 8 years (with a one year break living in Brooklyn) and the new has worn off, how do you continue to experience that “oh shit!” factor?

Well, you could do something illegal. Get arrested for trespassing, perhaps. Ya know, something exhilarating but definitely pushing things close to the edge. Or you could go for something on the lighter side of calling someone to pick you up from Snoopy’s on Glenwood because you’re walking home from the jail – and heavier on the side of thrilling and legal. Like checking out a new place, with a new friend and pursuing conversations completely out of your comfort zone.

So, Saturday night I went up to The Rockford at 320 and 1/2 Glenwood Avenue and…

…sat at the bar. With a friend I’ve had for a few years now but only recently got close to for reasons of circumstance and aligned stars. We met the bartender (what up, Hunter!) and asked for food and drink suggestions looking to chart territories unknown or rather lately unknown. We noted that at restaurants where the Chef’s got mad skills the appetizers can be one of the most interesting things on the menu so we shared a few apps instead of ordering separately. And took the time to notice the personality of the bar – quirky trinkets, lucky charms, fellow silhouettes.

…moved around. Without making plans to leave and discussing where to leave to for half an hour. Most places on Glenwood South and downtown have done everything they can to carve out an outdoor seating space if it wasn’t previously planned that way. What used to be “employees only” at The Rockford is now a patron-friendly three tabled balcony looking out over North Street. Perfect for taking in a secluded moment.

…listened and talked. Have all your getting home plans worked out and don’t check your  phone every 5 mins to see who’s texting you to meet up. Just be where you are, with the person you’ve chosen to spend some of your precious weekend time with. Create a world in which your soul mission is to explore topics not discussed within the limitations of your normal Mon-Fri/9-5 life.

Weekends are our therapy. So, remember to balance the wild haze with the slow blaze. Soak every ounce of it in. Including the red wine.

Guide for hosting out of towners

If you’re like me, sometimes it’s fun to devise your own plans – last minute or over the course of the week – but sometimes you just want someone else to decide for you. Most of the time when I feel like the latter, I am usually the weekend planner even when I’d rather just lay down in the middle of Hargett Street. 

I’m feeling spry today so here are some suggestions to get your weekend ball rolling.

For the girl friend in town…

Happy Hour: Cafe Caturra

cameron village – 432 woodburn road                                                                            beside francesca’s – near light years                                                                            post-HH shopping = good for the soul, not the purse. unless you buy a purse

indoor/outside seating – easy to split, delicious appetizers – wine tastings

Dinner: Dos Taquitos

downtown – 106 s. wilmington street – across and beside parking decks

authentic and unique mexican – frida inspired decor – indoor/outdoor seating

Music: The Pour House

see “for the dude friend in town”

Drinks: Landmark

downtown – 117 e. hargett street – few store fronts up from remedy diner

fun, loud, ridiculous people here late night – perfect for energy – perfect for drama your friend may say she wants something relaxing but let’s be honest, sometimes the best remedy for a long week is the story you tell the next day

For the dude friend in town…

Happy Hour: Big Boss Taproom

edge of downtown – 1249 wicker drive – off atlantic ave near whitaker mill road

off the beaten trail – damn good beer – pool, darts, ping pong                                      great way to work up an appetite and catch up before you go out for the night

Dinner: Raleigh Times

downtown – 14 e. hargett street – in between holly aiken’s store and morning times

old reliable – drinks, food, atmosphere – all on lock

Music: Pour House

downtown – 224 s. blount – across from moore square – beside tir na nog

rustic feel – unique singers and bands – upstairs and downstairs bars – pool tables

Drinks: Landmark

see “for the girl friend in town”

For the chill but hot date…

Happy Hour: Five Star

downtown – 511 w. hargett street – near railroad tracks and boylan bridge

comfy lounge – artsy bar – wall murals – DJs and movies play – also good for dinner

Dinner: Buku

downtown – 110 e. davie street – corner of new progress energy building

modern decor – warm ambiance – crafted food – music/bar next door

Music: Buku’s Lounge

specialty drinks – swanky atmosphere – acts that guarantee to please and leave room for conversation (or not)

Drinks: Foundation

downtown – 213 fayetteville street – below street level

rustic yet polished – indoor/outdoor seating – specialty drinks – intimate

When parents/family are in town…

Happy Hour: Boylan Bridge Brewpub

downtown – 2o1 s. boylan street – between moonlight pizza and boylan neighborhood

best view of downtown – large outdoor seating space – beer brewed on location

Dinner: Moonlight Pizza

downtown – 615 w. morgan street – corner of boylan

great patio – happy vibe and service – amazing pizza – all food is tasty

Music: Tir Na Nog

downtown – 218 s. blount street – across from moore square

irish bands – local talent – friendly staff – welcoming decor and ambiance – darts

Drinks: Village Draft House

cameron village – 428 daniels street – near carolina cafe – beside light years

large bar – 99 beers on tap – TVs – ample outdoor seating – conversation friendly

Oh, these guys again…

Happy Hour: The Pit’s bar

downtown -328 w. davie street – adjacent to humble pie – at the union

the point is to do something different – large bar – variety of favorite beers/drinks – lots of seating and space to move around – open to dining room – large windows

Dinner: Vic’s Italian Restaurant

downtown – 331 blake street – in city market

fill up on pasta and wine – city market lights and cobblestone

Music or Art: Zydeco Jazz

downtown – 208 wolfe street – City Market

never been here before – but old friends have the ability to have fun regardless and be comfortable trying new things together – indoor/outdoor seating

Drinks: Issac Hunter’s Tavern

downtown – 112 fayetteville street – close to capital building

games – dancing – variety – some indoor seating – outdoor seating out front

Alright, alright – but the most important suggestion I can give is, mix it up, baby!

Remedy Diner: a cure for what ales ya

The food is good. They have $1 PBR cans. Cans! (personal favorite) But the best thing about The Remedy Diner is the place itself.

It’s on the corner of Hargett and Blount streets, and the building wall facing Blount is a blank canvas for local art. There’s not much reason I can see for such a perfect spot for a mural to be wasted on faded butterflies and marigolds, especially following the much supported and celebrated Hopscotch and SPARKcon events that prove Raleigh’s got attitude, style and talent – and that there is more than enough of it to go around, a lot of times for free.

So, like I usually do, I suggest throwing a party. A parking lot sits beside the wall and is a great space for the owners of the building to call out a few muralists, DJs and breweries for a Remedy Diner paint-the-wall party. Do we vote on the theme for the mural? Some graffiti perhaps? Could the diner provide fuel for it all with their excellent all-day breakfast (like wearing sunglasses at night)?

Action is what we need, and I say we gotta keep riding the vibe downtown’s putting out. Hit me up (comment to this post) if you agree.

Inside, the bathrooms are painted by Alexis Price and speak for themselves.

Out back, a graveled respite welcomes laptopers, drinkers, eaters, and conversationalists…