The Triangle is home to so many talented entrepreneurs and creative small-business owners. I love that the INDY pays homage to them in the Best of the Triangle issue. Thank you, INDY!
Dr. Richard Shwery of Acupuncture Center of Cary gave me back quality of life I thought I'd never have again after 20-plus years of chronic illness and meds!
I had a fun and exciting experience at Ai Fuji Japanese Steakhouse. A lot of entertainment, great food and fantastic service. I will definitely go back. Everyone needs to know about this hidden jewel.
Alley Cats and Angels—great people, cats are well socialized, one of the few local rescues that vaccinates against FeLV.
Alley Twenty Six is easily the best upscale bar in the Triangle—the ambience is amazing and the drinks are liver-stoppingly sublime!
Anvil's Cheesesteaks—marvelous sandwich. We have lived in the Philadelphia area for more than 25 years of our married life and have eaten many cheesesteaks at a variety of places there. Anvil's is among the best we have had. They are simply authentic.
Arrichion—I lost 76 pounds and was able to stop taking blood pressure meds. I love 'em.
I love Azitra! Crave it almost everyday. Best Indian food in the Triangle!
The Bagel Bar is awesome—NY-style bagels (really!) with friendly service and great offerings. The new owners are doing a great job!
Bean Traders in Homestead Market is like a Cheers bar except for coffee—you always run into friends and the baristas know your name!
Raleigh is lucky to have Bida Manda join the downtown renaissance. The decor is serene. The screens at the entrance are a tribute to the owners' Laotian parents. The food is delicious, and the service is warm and friendly. Every visit has been a delight.
Blo has the best stylists. They pay attention to details and don't just do hair—they teach and talk you through what's best and what will look good on you!
Blue Corn Cafe is the only place that is walking distance from Duke Campus that offers authentic Latin-American Food. The platanos con poyo are divine.
I don't understand why blue MANGO is often uncrowded or even empty. I think most people just haven't discovered it yet. It has a wonderful atmosphere and great food! The prices are good too!
The Bottom String knows how to find the best new, local music. And they make it interesting, too!
The view of downtown Raleigh from the Boylan Bridge Brewpub is phenomenal at sunset.
The Broad Street Cafe is a great locally owned restaurant with some really good music and food. Great place to hang out.
The Cafe Prost food truck is a legend in our house. We hunt for them everywhere! Their pretzels are divine.
Camp Kanata is my favorite place on Earth. It provides a safe place where kids learn life skills and make some of the best memories of their lives.
Carolyn Scott Photography is the best by far! This husband and wife (or wife and husband) team is incredibly innovative and gave us so much more than the boring, stereotypical wedding photos.
Carrboro Yoga Company's studio is tucked away in the quaint room above Panzanella, and what a gem of a find! The people are welcoming and warm and the practice is wise, focused and playful. I've only had great experiences with the instructors there.
Carrington Electric has been extremely helpful with repairs and upgrades to my 38-year-old home. Adam runs a great crew, and I feel very comfortable with them working in my home.
Cat Banjo is a wonderful boutique selling handmade jewelry, women's clothing and other gifts. Plus, they rescue dogs.
Cave Taureau is a brilliant new wine store. Impeccable service, and always friendly.
Raleigh's Center for Chiropractic & Wellness: From two years of pain to relief in mere months—finally liberated!!! Thanks to Brian Kramer and Dr. Jennifer Greenfield (and staff!) for your nurturing and expertise—LOVE the holistic approach to wellness.
C. Grace is a fantastic jazz and cocktail lounge reminiscent of a 1920s speakeasy. The atmosphere, drinks and jazz are all top-shelf. It's the hippest jazz joint outside of New York City!
Chapel Hill Comics is one of my favorite places in the whole Triangle. So much goodness packed into a modest space—you can't go in there and not feel better. Even if you don't buy anything. It's a wonderful, special place.
Childcare Matters has been a wonderful place for our son to learn and thrive. The staff has years of experience caring for and nurturing children, and there's a tight-knit community feel that's friendly and secure.
Chuck's burgers are amazing! That with a milkshake will change your world.
Clockwork is an up-and-coming bombshell bar, with creative cocktails and local, fresh eats.
Clyde Cooper's BBQ has been around for 75 years of service. True Eastern Carolina-style pork barbecue; good clean, lean barbecue; the fried chicken is better than mama's; and the ribs are the best!
Color Salon rocks! I've been going there for two years now (since moving to the area) and I love it. The staff are so awesome and friendly, and they provide free childcare next door! What more could you want?
Conspiracy Ink Tattoo is all-female staffed and do quality tattoos—plus they regularly do charity for the community. They are the nicest artists in the county.
Coquette on a spring afternoon, sitting by the open windows, takes me to France —a nice escape.
CrossFit Local has helped me to become healthier, mind and body, with their supportive community.
Crowemag Toys has the coolest vintage comic books and figures on the planet!
The Crunkleton provides me my home away from home, where I can always find someone to talk to (usually Gary!).
Cuban Revolution is in a wonderful location in Durham's American Tobacco District. It's beautiful inside and out. The artwork is unique, colorful and engaging. The menu is wonderful, and there is something for everyone on it.
Curtis Brown is always pushing the envelope, and his vision always results in amazing photos of your special events, headshots or provocative art shoots. HE IS AMAZING.
We love DaisyCakes! They make the best dessert, and now we get a chance to try all their savory foods—YUM!
I love DJ Triple B! Any time I listen to his music I am guaranteed a good time! He is fun and energetic and a blast to be around!
Dr. Jeffrey Kennedy is an artist! He's gentle, careful, doesn't jump immediately to solutions but is an artist at what he does.
With great shows and life-changing classes, DSI Comedy Theater is the best place to see AND perform comedy in the Triangle.
Fiftieth anniversary year of the Durham Savoyards!
Love the Eno! Best place to chill out, relax, camp, take in music at the Festival for the Eno on July 4th, and more!
Explore Raleigh is the most amazing local Meetup.com group. Fun, friendly and always exploring!
Favor Desserts! I've been to lots of cupcake bars in many cities—Keijuane Hester's cupcakes are the best on the East Coast! He just needs Oprah's endorsements.
Vickie Vonn of Fido Can Fetch—a canine behaviorist who does house calls and has reasonable prices. She really speaks dog.
Flyleaf Books is an amazing place to shop! The used book selection is great, and the staff is very knowledgeable and engaged.
Foster's Market does wonderfully with everything that they do, from candy selection to bakery items to making sure that their burgers on Friday nights are fresh and cooked to perfection!
Frisky Business has the best selection, the best thought-out and stylish "classy" layout of the store, and above all else, has the friendliest, most knowledgeable staff of any of the adult stores in the area.
The host at Geeks Who Drink trivia at Natty Greene's is hilarious. You get trivia and a comedy show in one!
Geer Street Garden is where I would live if they would let me.
Getting Hammered with Thor & Heather Trivia at Ruckus Mission Valley is our group's favorite weekly trivia. Hilarious every week!
Grand Asia Market: Fresh-baked Asian dessert, oh ... it just can't be gotten anywhere else in the Triangle!
Guasaca is a new restaurant, but it's got some of the best food in the Triangle after being open only three months.
I could live in Guglhupf in Durham—the outdoor seating is fantastic, the staff are terrific, the food never disappoints!
Guru Guitars is a new Raleigh small business and one of the reasons Raleigh is so great: personal service, cool gear, locally owned and run.
Stephanie from Hand & Stone Massage in Cary is amazing! It's like she's a mind reader!
Jessica Silverman at Hands on Health is fantastic! Not only do I feel so much better when I see her, she also explains what she is doing in such an easy-to-understand way. I feel like my body and I are on good terms again!
I can't say enough good things about the Hillsborough Yarn Shop. The products they stock reflect their commitment to quality fibers and small producers. Top-notch staff are always helpful and encouraging. Inspiring place to be!
I love Janet Resnik's pottery. It is art on everyday plates. She really captures the countryside of N.C.!
Jewelsmith's creations are just what the customer orders!
I voted for Oscar Diaz as best chef, first of all because he's hot as balls. Secondly, because no one ever puts Mexican chefs in the standing for best chefs, especially not in North Carolina. But Jibarra and Oscar Diaz are making a splash in the Latin food scene here!
Nicole Dutram at Joe Van Gogh can make latte art that resembles the cover of a The Used album—hearts dripping off trees!
Jubala has the most magical lattes in the world. I don't know if they have little fairies that mix the things up or what, but they're great!
I have seen the results of dog training from K9 Composure. They worked a miracle for friends of mine and their Rottweiler puppy!
Koka Booth Amphitheatre is one of the most enthralling, liberating places to view a concert. I absolutely love enjoying live music amongst the pine trees.
Krav Maga Raleigh is a one-of-a-kind place with a one-of-a-kind following. Ken Richstad is a talented and enthusiastic teacher, the classes are challenging but fun, and you'll never find a better bunch to train with.
I love La Farm Bakery! They provide consistently wonderful food. They pay close attention to their customers and adjust the menu accordingly. Furthermore, they are trying to incorporate organic, locally grown grains in their menu. Simply wonderful!
Li Ming's variety can be intimidating, but it has the freshest fish anywhere—still swimming!
Loaf—amazing bread, amazing crust, love that I can check Facebook to see what's available that day.
L'Uva Enoteca makes the best fresh pasta, and their use of simple, fresh ingredients allows that pasta to shine!
Mad Hatter by far has the best sandwiches. I feel like it was a secret that they have anything other than bakery items and breakfast, but once I discovered the sandwiches I knew I had to tell everyone I know about it.
I love that Magpie Boutique has clothes for the professional that can easily transition from day to night.
I've been really impressed with Mahoney's Pub. They have stuck around in what seemed like a cursed building longer than any business I can remember. I love their extensive selection of beers, and the servers are fun to be around.
Emily Alexander of Massage Wallah is amazing and helps to melt my stress away!
I love, love, love Durham (especially as a native!) and I love all the new places we have, but my favorite has to be Mateo. What a treat!
McCormick & Moore Photography is a new business that takes wonderful pictures of your family (including your four-legged members)!
Mediterranean Deli has become my family's favorite restaurant. The consistency in the food is almost impossible to mimic—it's a must-have!
Milk & Honey Bakery has the best cheesecakes in town and has a unique mobile setup!
I thought there would be a section for Best Local Talent! Which would be the Mint Julep Jazz Band, incidentally.
Have you ever had the Nana's tasting menu? Enough said.
I love Ninth Street Dance! I'm 60 and still taking ballet and modern. Dance really is for everyone here, and the teachers are great!
For the hands-down best dining in the area, head to Oakleaf in Pittsboro. My husband and I left raving about each course, from the remarkably fresh salad to the delicious dessert.
I love Durham! And The Palace International!
I really admire what Piedmont Biofuels is doing for the community and the environment!
Posh is top-notch when it comes to pampering myself. They start me off with a complementary glass of wine and treat me like royalty until I leave.
Buster Wall at Public Hardware is my hero!
I always feel like family at Queen of Sheba in Chapel Hill. Friesh's food is truly made with love. It has been inspiring to watch their business grow!
Quick Moves was our most pleasant moving experience. And they run on biodiesel!
The people in a city are what makes the city. Raleigh has come a long ways and I have no doubt will continue to kick ass. There are so many motivated and capable individuals working to do great things. Thanks for being so awesome!
Director Haskell Fitz-Simons of the Raleigh Little Theater never ceases to amaze. His shows are brilliant. [Editor's note: Fitz-Simons passed away May 12.]
Raleigh's Village Idiots is the BEST improv comedy group in the Triangle. They do family-friendly comedy as well as the no-holds-barred kind. A laugh a second. Great group.
Absolutely love the variety of The Refectory Cafe! Durham's new best-kept secret (hopefully not for long)!
The Remedy offers the best gluten-free options in the Triangle with DELICIOUS gluten-free bread!
Revolution in Durham is the best fancy restaurant I've ever been to. It is consistently stupendous: a modest menu with intricate, incredible flavors.
Ridgewood Wine & Beer stocks phenomenal wine at every price point, and their draft selection is as good as anywhere in town, which is saying something in Raleigh. I've never been disappointed with their recommendations.
Rock It Learning is a great hands-on science camp option for any child ages 9-14. The kids have a great time and don't even realize they're learning.
Rosati's Pizza in Morrisville is one of the very few CHICAGO-style pizzas, for those who are tired of the skinny NY style!
The S&T Soda Shoppe in Pittsboro has great ambiance, an old pharmacy counter and great malts, shakes, banana splits and tuna melts.
Lars (the barista) at Saladelia Cafe in Perkins Library at Duke always has such an unbelievable attitude. He is so positive and polite; it really brightens my day every time I go in.
Slingshot Coffee Company: best of the best. Delicious, refreshing, all from one hell of a gal.
Spotted Dog is my all-around favorite place to eat. Tons of delish vegan options, good prices, great service, animal-friendly, outdoor seating, ample nearby parking—it's the best all around.
Stay & Play Snack Cafe is a great place for the kids to get out their energy while their parents re-energize with yummy snacks and delicious coffee.
I mean, seriously ... have you been to Straw Valley Cafe?
A special shout-out to Suite Paws Pet Resort! They love my animal dearly, and I wouldn't take her any other place.
Sutton's for everything. If they make it, I'm sure it's the best.
Swift's Fine Jewelry in Knightdale has the nicest, most knowledgeable, professional staff in Wake County.
The sweet & spicy wings at The Tavern are so good! I want them to bottle that sauce for me to buy.
The Thai Palace has the best Thai food in the state of N.C.! I have tried them all and know what great Thai food should taste like because I was married to the angriest Thai lady in North America!
Third Place is the best coffeehouse, hands down. The staff is amazing, and the owner is such a character. LOVE IT!
Triangle Krav Maga in Cary—Bare-bones, no-frills studio with entertaining and energetic instructors. It's a great place to learn real-life self-defense for the modern world and get a great workout at the same time.
Triangle Pharmacy & Ace Hardware is a great local resource for hardware items you can't find elsewhere and my favorite neighborhood pharmacy. It's nice to see people I recognize and be treated like a neighbor.
I love Triangle Raw Foods and hope more and more people introduce themselves to the delicious and healthy offerings they sell! I'm so glad they're here to provide easy options for good eating for folks who care about their health. THANK YOU!
Two Chicks Farm (selling at the South Durham, Eno River and Western Wake farmers markets) has a beautiful selection of naturally grown veggies (a huge variety of peppers, sweet and hot!) and yummy fermented foods like kimchi. They're fun ladies!
Upper Crust Pie & Bakery has yummy homemade pies! Better than your grandmother's.
Cannot beat the service and attention of Urban Durham Realty. Courtney James is nothing less than fantastic!
Doug the bartender at the Venable plays obscure Joe Strummer tunes and shares trivia about music that matters.
Wake Forest Dairy Depot serves the best soft-serve ice cream treats. Their portions are generous and a better value for the money than anywhere else in town.
Washington Duke Inn's Fairview Restaurant is our favorite spot for brunch and afternoon tea.
Weaver Street Market—epitomizes everything that is great about the Triangle.
There is no doubt that WKNC is the best college radio station in the Triangle. Even though I am a student at UNC, I am always streaming the N.C. State radio station on my computer or through my radio when I can get reception.
Every time I think of Woody's wings I have the Pavlov dog reaction.
Yoga Garden is an amazing studio! It has a very welcoming feel to it, and the instructors there are truly masters of their craft. Each instructor offers something different.
Zola—I'm always able to find interesting, unique gifts there. And fun stuff for myself.
I lived in Charlotte for most of my life and always thought it was the best place in the world. I moved to the Triangle last year and realized I was wrong. This area is so authentic and original. I love the people, culture and scenery.