**Updated 1 July 12!** Look for the purple. :)
Before I moved to Fayetteville, I heard it all... Fayettenam... Fort Braggdad. I was warned repeatedly that I was moving to the most undesirable, unappealing, unattractive city to grace the fair state of North Carolina. Most North Carolinians who have been through here without living here remember the pawn stores and strip clubs that line Bragg Blvd, the violence and crime rate, and the generally downtrodden, factory-town atmosphere of a town built by and for the military.
A more hidden gem off Bragg Blvd is Lori's New and Used Books, which has thousands of books packed into a smaller, more intimate space. Lori is the owner and only employee, and she remembers you after a while. If you are looking for something, she'll know exactly where it is. She's also more inclined to take your trade-ins, if you're looking to cast off a few books (although why anyone would do that is beyond me.)
When I have visitors come to town, the first place we head is downtown. We start at Turner Lane, where Elaine has jars of different jams and jellies made locally, fresh breads, and ciders to try. During the summer, she also has muscadine slushies. As much of a wine fan as I am, I just can't enjoy muscadine wines. This slushie made the muscadine taste good!! I always keep some of her hot pepper jelly at my house, as well as whatever fruit jams tasted good on my last trip. She has tons of stuff to sample and her prices are really reasonable!
**UPDATE! ** There's a new intriguing wine shop and cafe now open on Hay Street! The Wine Cafe opened right after I got pregnant, so I have yet to partake of it. However, I plan to enjoy myself with a bottle of wine and some friends as soon as possible. They also have cheese plates and other munchies for you and friends to share as you share a bottle (or a few glasses) of wine. I've looked around, but have yet to sit and sample the wares.
4th Friday is another great way to experience downtown Fayetteville. All of the little boutiques, bistros, galleries, and shops stay open and it turns into a great block party! At different times of year they have different themes, including the Zombie Walk the 4th Friday of October.
Meals for a Foodie
I must admit, I'm PICKY when it comes to food. I can handle a chain restaurant, but if I'm not craving cheese biscuits at Red Lobster or French Onion soup at Red Robin, I'd much rather support a local restaurant. Luckily for me, Fayetteville has a few that knock it out of the park!
Luigi's is my one of my favorite Italian restaurants in Fayetteville. Remember Wine Tasting Thursdays? Yup, that's hosted here - a free wine tasting from four or five bottles, with nibbles to accompany. Of course, you're always welcome to stay for dinner.
For the other favorite, we have to head back downtown to Pierro's. Fabulous pastas and wines to fill you up any night of the week. Since it's right next to Cameo, it's definitely my default for dinner and a movie.
Unfortunately, it gets packed at Pierro's sometimes, so Circa 1800 is my other default for great upscale American dining. Although small, I can usually find a seat at the full-service bar. Reservations would probably be smart, but I just don't roll that way. Martini Monday can be found here!
Thai fans have two great choices here, Thai Pepper and Orchid Garden. Both have amazing lunch buffets and are pretty close to the southern gates of Fort Bragg. If I want cold coconut milk soup for dessert, I hit Orchid Garden. Both lunch buffets are great for the price. If you're on the northern end of Fayetteville, Sawaddee is a great place to pick up some Pad See Euw or Pad Thai.
My favorite lunch spot in all of Fayetteville is Roly Poly (yes, it's a chain, but it's not nationwide!). GREAT soups and sandwiches with very flexible fillings lead to one happy camper. They also have a Military Monday discount. **UPDATE - Roly Poly closed at this location after Christmas. I've heard rumors they would reopen during the summer, but have yet to see it happen. Sad day, OPEN AGAIN SOON!!!**
Need a great local beer? Both The Mash House and Huske Hardware are microbreweries with flights of great beer. We tend to hit Mash House more frequently, as the food is usually better. However, if you're making a night of it downtown, then Huske is the place to go.
**UPDATE - for some reason, the food at Mash House has gone downhill significantly in the last few months. The steak I had there a couple months ago was barely edible and far too overdone. In addition, the waitstaff has become very lackluster and the management really didn't seem to care when I mentioned the flaws piling up. It's off my rotation for now until they get their act together. I'll try them again later this summer or fall, maybe. I did hit Huske a few weeks ago for a going-away dinner and was impressed by their buffet. It was off-menu, but good quality. If the hubby needs a local beer fix, we'll probably go to Huske for the near future.**