Carafe's micro-wineries brew and bottle their own grape blood on-site, harvested from the fruit of the world's many vine varieties. Tapping into the thrills of kiddie chemistry experiments, the wine-masters at Carafe custom-mix each bottle of inebriation-fuel at their creation station, imbuing brews with the extra love and care that enables them to mature into responsible citizens of stomachs everywhere. Not to be outshone by the contents, bottle labels are similarly customized, bearing personalized messages from bottler to bottlee. Label designs from the Raleigh wine-wranglers are printed on water-resistant gloss paper, ensuring that your birthday, anniversary, or Tuesday wishes are clearly conveyed. The stock does vary according to availability, so before promising the gift of pinot, make sure you call or stop in to check on your favorite varieties.
The chefs at El Rincon Mexican Restaurant create Mexican specialties such as enchiladas with mole poblano sauce, pork chops slathered with a green hot sauce, and sincronizada—a grilled tortilla sandwich stuffed with chicken or beef and cheese and served with sliced jalapeños and avocado slices. Guests pair these eats with libations from the full bar, including imported Mexican beer such as Bohemia and Tecate bottles and Negra Modelo drafts. After concluding meals with fried ice cream, patrons can head over to the eatery’s game room for some foosball and pool.
zpizza— voted best pizza in Raleigh by CitySearch and Best Pizza in Cary by WakeCary Magazine —is known for its inventive, California-style pizzas: think zesty Thai-style chicken pizza with peanut sauce and cilantro, or Mexican-style pizza loaded with taco fixings. But even a simple cheese or pepperoni pizza from zpizza is sure to be memorable. That's because the restaurant's cooks use only top-shelf ingredients in their brick-oven-baked pies, from the Montana winter wheat that goes into their hand-thrown crusts to the organic tomato sauce and Wisconsin skim mozzarella layered on top. Diners can customize pizzas with other toppings, including locally sourced meats, fresh produce, and gourmet ingredients such as truffle oil.
Ethiopian main courses divide into two parts: injera, a thin flatbread, and wot, a stew comprising mostly meat or various beans. Ashee Ethiopian Cuisine adheres to tradition, serving stews of chicken, beef, or curried lamb and goat atop spongy slices of injera. Beyond its carnivorous dishes, Ashee caters to vegetarians with heaps of lentils cooked in berbere sauce and split peas cooked with mild green peppers. Feasts are served atop a mesob, a round table designed to encourage sharing among diners. Beers and Coke products can complement meals, though for a more authentic experience Ashee recommends ordering coffee, which is served during a traditional ethiopian ceremony.
With the fountain chortling pleasantly in the background and the sun soaking into the fertile ground, it's easy to lose track of time at Vineyards at Southpoint. The glasses of handcrafted wines probably don't help much, either. In addition to shipping varietals to wine-club members, the vineyards offer weekly and special-event tastings, so guests can sip award-winning vintages while taking in the beautiful scenery.
Studio 91 proprietor Annette Girman handpicks each work of art that adorns the walls of Studio 91, as well as the boutique assortment of fine small plates and artisanal wines that grace guests' gullets. Visitors dip crusty slices of bread or crunchy action figures into savory hummus and nosh on gourmet meats and cheeses, briny kalamata olives, and sun-dried tomatoes artfully arranged into small plates. Eyeballs drink up the work of artists such as France's Gerard Puvis, who molds the metallic foil found on the necks of grand-cru wine bottles into miniature humans, or Canadian painter Rod Chase, whose photorealistic creations often deflect criminals attempting to flee into another reality. As a complimentary gift, each visitor can sample a quartet of 3-ounce pours of South American wine, tasting red, white, and rose varieties of the adult grape juice.
Creeping across a 5-acre swath of the Haw River Valley, 16 varieties of grapevines sprout from fertile, sandy soil, twisting their leafy arms around trellises and soaking in the lush, grape-growing climate. Benjamin's artisan enophiles hand pluck each of the muscadine, french, and hybrid grapes that blanket this vineyard. The grapes are escorted into the afterlife inside fermenting barrels where they live on as red and white wines for every taste—from dry dinner varietals and sweet country classics to seasonal bouquets. The whole creative process is observed by spectating visitors who wind through the idyllic facilities on self-guided tours—often including picnics on the winery’s covered porch, or perusals of of local art at the gift shop.
As an ecofriendly facility, Benjamin Vineyards & Winery employs sustainable practices, such as composting agricultural products, recycling bottles and other reusables, and growing plants with nightly bedtime reading instead of pesticides.