What $500 Buys in Raleigh

Bruce Hutchison

Our spending guide to Raleigh, North Carolina.

High culture and down-home hospitality collide in Raleigh, North Carolina, which Bloomberg Businessweek recently named America’s best city. The sleepy Southern belle has come into its own, with world-class exhibitions at the North Carolina Museum of Art and chef Sean Fowler’s take on the new Southern cuisine at Mandolin Raleigh, a former drugstore where he once bought ice cream as a kid.

Four rounds of absinthe served fountain-style and poured over sugar and ice (hand-carved by bartenders every night) for ten people at the recently opened Fox Liquor Bar, the dark, boozy speakeasy from Iron Chef contender Ashley Christensen. ac-restaurants.com.

A 60-minute “Ultimate Firming 24k Facial,” featuring a 24-karat-gold mask and light exfoliation, plus a deluxe manicure/pedicure for two at Synergy Spa. The spa, which underwent renovation in January, will double in size this summer. feelsynergy.com.

Two pairs of hand-sewn selvage jeans from Raleigh Denim’s new store, The Curatory. The brand was started by Victor and Sarah Lytvinenko, who went from sewing jeans in their living room to showing at New York Fashion Week this past February. thecuratory.com.

A meal of beef tartar with wasabi-deviled quail eggs, wild mushroom gnocchi and Bosc-pear pop tarts, plus two rounds of cocktails, for eight at the six-month-old Mandolin Raleigh, which specializes in chef-owner Sean Fowler’s new Southern cuisine, a refined take on comfort foods featuring fresh local ingredients. mandolinraleigh.com.

Tickets for ten to “Dining After Dark,” an intimate museum tour, complete with dinner and wine, at the North Carolina Museum of Art (June 1), featuring large installations by Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui. ncartmuseum.org.

Compiled by Erin Schumaker and Jamie Wiebe