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.
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.
You could argue that every meal at Gaucho's Village includes live entertainment—servers are constantly visiting tables with humongous skewers of meat and slicing off choice pieces with a sword-like knife. To summon such a show to your table, all you need to do is turn a small marker over to display its green side, or turn your "Bring on the Meat" t-shirt right-side out. Then, you select from an array of flame-roasted cuts, ranging from the traditional picanha, or sirloin cap, to tri-tip and filet mignon wrapped in bacon. The blazing churrasco fires backstage also cook lamb, pork, and sausage, and the menu suggests a proper wine pairing for each cut.
Though these meats have been featured on the Travel Channel's Tastiest Places to Chow Down, they aren't the only impressive spectacle at the restaurant. The real show occurs on weekends, when samba dancers and DJs rev up the always-festive atmosphere. Guests who would rather kick back than shimmy along can visit the attached lounge. There, a separate lounge menu boasts empanadas and coxinha—fried balls of chicken and cheese—as well as flavored hookah on a back patio fenced with live bamboo.