Every few weeks, Singles Mingle Events stages another party at one of Raleigh's upscale restaurants and bars. But the company isn't celebrating anything in particular. The events are merely an opportunity for local singles to get to know each other. Sometimes they take the form of speed dating, but just as often they're simply laid-back cocktail hours, the kind of low-pressure gatherings where even shy guests can loosen up and have a good time. Of course, if you do find yourself feeling nervous in the lead-up to an event, you can always call on Vanessa Taylor, the company's resident dating coach.
Parking can be tough to come by at this smallish Eagle Rock sandwich shop, which specializes in Americanized versions of the popular döner kebab. So named because of the rotating vertical spit that holds its cooked meat, Spitz is the result of two friends who fell in love with the ubiquitous European snack food, but couldn’t find it anywhere in America. The sandwiches – mostly layered with roasted slices of beef and lamb, though chicken is also available – come topped with a variety of fresh ingredients and a tangy white cucumber sauce. Vegan and vegetarian items are available, while regulars opt for the messy street cart fries, topped with garlic aïoli, feta, onion, green pepper, tomato, olives, pepperoncinis and chili sauce. The tight, colorful dining area holds only a few wooden tables, making takeout a popular option.
Oenophiles flock to the Colorado Wine Company in Eagle Rock, looking to buy high-quality wines for under $25. They also come in to sip wine by the glass, with a rotating selection of pours between $5 and $12. Each day, Colorado Wine puts together four white and reds to taste inside the dark, woody space, where a long wall of wine bottles stands in as the primary focus of the room. Not to be outdone, beer lovers can also enjoy a rotating variety of six different beers on tap, often featuring Southern California breweries. Cheese plates are available for quick noshing, and on Friday nights from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. the shop offers reduced-price flights with complimentary cheese accompaniment for under $20. Regulars can also indulge in their Wine of the Month Club, which makes sitting inside the cozy space all the more enjoyable.
In 1971, Gary Berman and Adam Malin, then just two teenage sci-fi fans, founded Creation Entertainment. Throughout the '70s and '80s, they helped develop and promote local comic-book conventions, but by the '90s their interests had turned to genre films and TV. It was smart timing: at the peak of Star Trek's popularity, the duo were running upward of three Trek-related events per weekend.
These days, throughout the US, Canada, and Great Britain, Creation Entertainment hosts conventions and events for various sci-fi and horror franchises, including Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries, and Xena: Warrior Princess. A who's who of Hollywood luminaries have all made past appearances, including actor Jack Nicholson, author Ray Bradbury, and George Lucas, the famous director of the Indiana Jones: Space Cowboy movies. Along with its events, Creation Entertainment manufactures merchandise ranging from pictures signed by Lord of the Rings actors to water bottles emblazoned with the Supernatural logo.
Bowlers lounge at the end of 22 glossy lanes that stretch across the floor at All Star Lanes. Each lane tracks their games with the automatic scorers, meaning players can leave their abaci at home. Post-frame, bowlers can head to the lounge for drinks and snacks while watching games displayed on nine televisions. Those seeking sit-down sustenance relax in the on-site restaurant, which serves hearty American, Chinese, and Mexican dishes. All Star Lanes was also recently featured in Pharrell Williams' music video for "Happy", a 24-hour music video in which he dances through the bowling alley at 11 p.m.
Many people feel an indescribable urge to follow in the footsteps of celebrities long passed—hoping that a connection to their genius or charm still lingers in the air of their apartments and favorite pubs. The guides of Esotouric understand and share this urge, though they prefer to roam the paths of history by bus. After scouring the famed neighborhoods of Los Angeles in search of interesting and outlandish locations, they share their findings on bus adventures that retrace the trails blazed by local artists, filmmakers, writers, and actors.
Esotouric's odysseys wind through haunts such as Raymond Chandler's favorite breakfast spot and the salon Charles Bukowski visited for his weekly knuckle-hair perm. Coloring their tours with anecdotes about the films adapted from his noirish stories, guides also visit locales captured in the cinematic landscapes of James M. Cain. Various tours explore Southern California’s culture, literature, and architectural sides, giving history hounds the chance to sniff out sinister deeds in old-time tattoo parlors, burlesque shows, and crime scenes.