Downtown Raleigh is rather disappointing, although, I should have known what to expect. The similarities with Lexington (KY) are rather striking.
At 7pm on Monday, the downtown is dead. The only people around are the
WWW'2010 attendees, who stick like sore thumbs in the otherwise empty place.
Essentially, it's a typical southern affair - office towers with little retail underneath, block-consuming posh hotels and a monstrous convention center, interspersed by parking garages and lots. All surrounded by blocks of light industrial zoning. Nobody lives here.
After a bit of wandering around, two convention center hosts pointed me in the general direction of "The Pit", which appears to be a local Caroline-style barbeque joint. It was very easy to pass by on the side street, nestled among a bunch of one-story somewhat run-down buildings and across the street from some no-name watering hole (the no-name part probably means that it is totally awesome and a local favorite). The dinner was excellent, but the walk back to the hotel along empty streets. The closest to urban life I saw was a condo complex across the street and a parking lot from the hotel, which had a corner bar built into it with people actually sitting outside... (the complex is pictured above).