Yep. Like a “Real Housewives” reunion, this is the third and final installment of my long Labor Day Weekend in Raleigh, North Carolina. A truly liberating weekend of togetherness with like-minded people, who happen to be my colleagues and now friends, that I will not soon forget.

Last I left you, our group spent a day in Greensboro eating, drinking and vintage shopping. Victoria and I returned to Raleigh and joined my friend Dawn in Cary to dine at Academy Street Bistro for the best shrimp and grits I have ever eaten.

The Crew Credit: Kysha Harris photos

And now, without any further ado, our final night in Raleigh…

Kristin and Lauryn returned to Raleigh in need of a remedy, a cure in the form of grease and carbohydrates after their raucous wedding celebration in Greensboro. Enter Cook Out, a fast food chain, mostly in the south. Burgers, fries, onion rings, hush puppies and some wicked good custard shakes were consumed at 10 a.m. No judgments. 

We digested our “breakfast” by the pool and journeyed on a failed run to get tattoos before the turn up for our final night began. I made an amuse bouche of our Brewery Bhavana leftovers to go with cocktails before we jumped in an Uber to downtown Raleigh.

First stop, The Ark Royal, a tiki bar, for some banging drinks, an impromptu photo sesh (at least for me it was) and a “who wore it better” moment with someone wearing Kristin’s dress. Clearly, Kristin. We stayed for one round only because an epic meal was awaiting us.

We sauntered up to Cortez, a seafood restaurant that looks like it should be in South Beach with its open-air space and modern design. While we did not have a reservation, it was the beginning of dinner service and the bar was open seating. Done!

After some smart, unique, stupid-good craft cocktails like my CBD infused watermelon cooler…WE…WENT…IN! From the bread + weed (herb-nori-anchovy) butter and dozens of North Carolina oysters, through almost all of their small plates like hog snapper ceviche and charred octopus, and ending with some pretty ridiculous fried churros with caramel sauce and cinnamon sugar, we were not there to play.

Cortez bread and weed butter Credit: Kysha Harris photo

We walked our Cortez meal off in route to an arcade and bar where I got reacquainted with Space Invaders and Centipede. Then another saunter to Watts & Ward for a nightcap. 

And with that, Raleigh was a wrap! Thank you, Victoria. See you again soon.

Happy eating and thanks for reading.

Kysha Harris is a food writer and editor, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service in NYC for over 18 years. She is the new Food Editor at Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, @SCHOPnyc, on Facebook, /SCHOPnyc.

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