The Best of Raleigh

If you don’t live in or around Raleigh, this post might not have any meaning for you. But I feel like I can’t leave the town I called home for 17 years without paying homage to what consider some of the best of the best.

If you are ever passing through the area (or you never know, you may relocate here!), this is my go-to list of places and people that I already miss and know I will never truly find a suitable replacement for.

And this is especially for Melisa (@mommythisnthat) from Mommy This & That. We met once and couldn’t stop talking. She’s finally moving to Raleigh just as I left. But I’ll feel good leaving her this guide to help her find some of the best people and places in town.

For those of you that don’t know, when we talk about Raleigh, we’re really referring to the Triangle – an area that includes Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and other outlying areas like Cary (and beyond, in some cases).

The Best Chiropractor

If you’ve never tried chiropractic, now is the time to start. I’ve been seeing Dr. Brett Hightower at Midtown Chiropractic for longer than I can remember. 8 years maybe? He’s a genuine guy that truly has a miraculous touch. As I’ve been packing, I managed to completely annihilate my lower back and Dr. HT has almost restored me after just two sessions. He also does acupuncture if that’s your thing and doesn’t try to sell you with a ridiculous contract you don’t need.

If he can help you, he will. If he can’t, he’ll tell you and send you on his way.

The Best Veterinarian

I can’t tell you  how many people I’ve referred to Dr. Jon at Magnolia Animal Hospital. When I first got my cat Arnie in 1997, Dr. Jon was the young vet at an established vet clinic. He branched out on his own and opened a small office a distance away. But I followed him anyway. I’ve known him for 15 years and he’s seen me through some of the roughest times in my life. Not only is he a compassionate and caring vet, but he is also extremely affordable.


The Best Massage Therapists

For several years, I’ve been getting monthly massages from Massage Envy. But it wasn’t the clinic that kept me going. It was my therapist, Yolanda Parrish. She is an amazing person inside and out and is one of the best massage therapists I’ve even been to. She recently left to open her own business at Body Well Therapeutic Massage and I’d love it if you supported her.

I have to also give a shout out to my good friend Dagmar Stolp at Body in Sync Massage Therapy. Not only have I been more than willing to help her out when she needed a test subject for reflexology and hot stone massage certification, she gave me an absolutely fantastic pregnancy massage and my hips thank her for it.

The Best Preschool

Because our lives have been a bit uncertain for the past year, I didn’t enroll Evan in preschool until the last minute. Literally. I googled some preschools in the areas, found one that has some good testimonials online, called the director, met her in person, and attended orientation the next night. Evan started the following week. I can’t say enough wonderful things about St. Philip Lutheran Preschool. From Miss Susan, the director, to Miss Michelle and Miss Stephanie, Evan’s teachers, I couldn’t have asked for a more loving, caring, nurturing environment to help transition him and get him ready for kindergarten.

The Best Tae Kwon Do

I’ve stated for quite a while that I never wanted Evan to become a big deal in sports. Mainly because I didn’t want my weekends and evenings consumed with sports games and tournaments. But as he gets older, I realize he needs the physical activity and maybe just a bit of the discipline. So after attending a friend’s birthday party at Black Belt World in Wake Forest, both Evan and I thought it might be a great place to start a little extracurricular activity. We love Master Kim and Master Hyon, both black belts from Korea. They are so good with kids, create a very family friendly environment, and offer just the right amount of structure for the age.

The Best Dog Groomer

I’ve had enough dog grooming nightmares to last me a lifetime. My dogs always looked pretty but often seemed traumatized from those big box grooming stores. One day at the dog park (in the Millbrook Exchange Park off of Spring Forest Road), I met a woman who told me about Dogtopia. She took her dog there for doggy daycare and grooming and couldn’t say enough positive things. So I gave it a shot and while poor little Emma is still traumatized (through no fault of Dogtopia), I drop her off and pick her up about an hour later, much easier and less stressful than the 4 hour window at those other dog groomers.

The Best Mexican Restaurant

Eating Mexican food in North Carolina has always been one of my favorite things to do. And while the menu almost always looks the same wherever you go, I found two standouts in North Raleigh for service and food. We’re big fans of Fiesta Mexicana near Wakefield. Since they expanded the restaurant, it’s always easy to get in and get seated. The food is fresh and delicious and the staff are always great. But if you’re looking for something a little different, try San Jose near Triangle Town Center. It’s more like gourmet Mexican at regular Mexican prices. The margaritas are to die for and my personal menu favorites are the Spinach and Chicken Enchiladas and the Vegetarian Quesadillas.

The Best Cheeseburger

And finally, what I will miss most about North Carolina besides friends, family, temperate winters, fried pickles, and hushpuppies is the best cheeseburger I’ve ever had. I’ll miss it because unless I happen to be driving through the middle of North Carolina, I probably won’t be in Siler City anytime soon for Johnson’s Burgers. It’s so good that it actually earned it’s own post right here on my blog.

So, my fellow and future Raleighites and North Carolinians, or even those of you who happen to venture through the Triangle someday, I hope I’ve left you in good hands and feel free to add your own favorites in the comments below.

And if you’re in the Baltimore/DC area, please give me a new list of “bests” to try!


  • Carolinamama1

    Fadra! We miss you already!!

    • FadraN

      Miss you too but know I’ll see you soon SOMEWHERE!!!

  • Andrea B

    Love this. Thanks, Fadra. I am actually looking for an acupuncturist, so this is a great way for me to have hopefully found one. 😉 

    • FadraN

      I love Dr. HT! Tell him I sent you!

  • scargosun

    I never lived in Raleigh but did live in ILM and CLT.  I visited a good deal and really liked it.  Wish I could have visited the places you mentioned though.  An I am totally kicking myself for not having you spy on exboyfriends.  

    • FadraN

      Trust me, there’s a lot of recon you can do online 😉

  • Melisa

    Thank you for the shout out! But especially for this list! I am going to call the school to set up a meet and greet once we get settled. :) And the way to my heart is definitely through good food.

    I may steal this post idea and do one myself. Though I never meet anyone moving to my area!!

  • bethannchiles

    Found this post through a tweet from another blogger, BocaFrau, and am sending it on to our son who lives in Raleigh.  Though he most likely won’t need some of the listed places (like the school!) he can always file them away for when he does need them, right? Thanks for the great idea—I love Raleigh and had not heard of any of the eating places so those will be good places to try on our next vist there!   

  • April Dorris

    This is a great idea and wouldn’t be bad to keep up as a regular feature.