Welcome to the New South, where you can find a Starbucks, Wal-Mart, HQ, Taco Bell, Subway, Dunkin’ Donuts, Barnes & Noble, Gap or any other chain store you’re looking for right in your neighborhood mall. Anyone who has lived in the Triangle these last 15 years or so can attest to the enormous changes wrought by our runaway growth. The homogenization of our cities and town centers that has come with that growth has, unfortunately, made it increasingly easy to overlook the things that make our region special.

With that in mind, once a year the writers and editors at The Independent put together “The Real Best of the Triangle,” an issue highlighting the people, places and things that give our area its personality. Naturally, that means that “The Real Best” is not your father’s awards issue. We’re not conducting a popularity contest: You won’t find here a simple list of the obvious restaurants, clubs and movie theaters. Instead, we’ll offer you a tip on the best place to get free condoms; we’ll tell you where you can see the world’s greatest talking farmer mannequin; and we’ll let you know who makes the tastiest tomato sandwich.

Are ya picking up what we’re layin’ down? Plain and simple, we write about the stuff we like, and the stuff we think you should know about. We don’t pretend “The Real Best of the Triangle” is anything but a highly subjective look at the colorful place we all call home. We hope you’ll be a little surprised by some of what you find in the following pages. And if you’re not surprisedwe’re scared of you. THE EDITORS

Best according to whom?
The ideas for “Real Best” come from Independent readers, staff members and contributing writers, including Angie Carlson, Ristin Cooks, Jon Elliston, Bob Geary, Laura Hatmaker, Damien Jackson, Tonie Lilley, Don Miller, Julia Ridley, Chris Schmidt, Kristy Shumaker, Barbara Solow and John Valentine. Darren Stanhouse, Laura Hatmaker and Mark W. Hornburg edited the package. Alex Maness, Darren Stanhouse and Lissa Gotwals took the photographs. Liz Holm designed the issue.

  • Local Color
  • Getting and Spending
  • Politics and Personalities
  • Kids’ Stuff
  • Out and About