It's been more than a half-century since the first Char-Grill opened its doors on Hillsborough Street in Raleigh, but not much has changed at this beloved local chain. Whether in the original cinderblock building or one of the 10 locations that have been added since, people still approach the counter to jot down orders, pass them through the window, and then look on as cooks grill half- and quarter-pound steak patties over charcoal flames.
In addition to the signature smoky-flavored burgers, Char-Grill also fires up grilled chicken, chili dogs, and pulled-pork sandwiches. Milkshakes and fries add to the eatery's classic feel, helping land it on USA Today's list of 51 Great Burgers and reminding guests of simpler times when hamburgers were used as currency.
Charlotte Gregory, licensed manicurist and owner of Nails by Charlotte, paints claws and toe-talons with expert precision within the full-service Classy Hair salon. The gel polish employed during a Shellac manicure lasts longer than traditional varnish, dries rapidly, and leaves a finish that's smoother than a freshly zamboni-ed ice sculpture. It soaks off with a special solution and doesn't damage the keratin planks it covers. During the express mani-pedi, Charlotte efficiently grooms cuticles before shaping nails into handsome ovals, rectangles, or rhombi. Standard polish then imbues each little piggy with a stylish new hue.
For more than 30 years, the name of the elusive baked goods baroness has been a shopping-mall mainstay. Utilizing a secret blend of high-quality ingredients, her underground bakery bunker doles out oven-fresh favorites with the grace of a nimble gazelle wafting delicately across the African outback. Fuel up on chocolate-studded favorites (nuts optional) like chocolate chocolate-chip and white chocolate, or try oatmeal-raisin, cinnamon-sugar, and peanut butter.
Sunflowers Café’s creative culinary artisans have served up tasty, well-presented dishes in an intimate setting for 27 years. Latin zest and vegetarian touches pepper their fresh dinner menu, which brings together soups, salads, tacos, and seafood in a culinary harmony unseen since the California Raisins dominated the airwaves. The rich, moist Mexican cornbread is tinged with jalapenos and served hot with a piquant cherry-balsamic dipping sauce ($5), which is a tasty lead-in to the herb-encrusted salmon tacos, served either alone with slaw ($9) or as a meal with slaw, black beans, and rice ($13). Savory entrees such as the grilled Pamlico County shrimp tap-dance on tongues when paired with mango-pineapple salsa ($16), and the black-bean burger emcees a tummy-tickling variety show featuring pepperjack cheese, salsa, Mexican slaw, and Ed McMahon’s iconic jackhammer routine ($9). The setting is cozy and intimate—its pleasant light-yellow walls and framed photographs cocooning wooden tables and chairs and its attentive wait staff of butterflies.
Goodberry's is a locally owned-and-operated creamery that's been serving up frozen custard made from all-natural ingredients such as milk, cream, and honey to North Carolina residents for more than 20 years. Recoiling from Faustian deals with depraved chemical preservatives and artificial stabilizers, Goodberry's chooses to whip up new batches of its frozen custard hourly to ensure maximum flavor and freshness. Flavors are limited to three: vanilla made with real Madagascar beans, rich dark chocolate, and a rotating flavor of the day. Custard connoisseurs looking to bring some personality to their pudding cups can try a famous Goodberry's Carolina concrete ($4.49 for a regular), a custom treat made by mixing your selected flavor with any combination of mix-ins, served upside down as a testament to its titular thickness and factual hold over taste buds, unlike the mix-your-own treats full of G.I. Joe toys offered by actual concrete manufacturers.