Your guide to Charlotte’s diners, drive-ins and dives

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Photo by Jess Bentley

With so many reasons to treat yourself to some gluttonous diner fare, choosing from Charlotte’s extensive list of eateries can be a grueling decision. Here are a few insider-tips to help you navigate the menu at your restaurant of choice.

This is not a “catch-all” list, so if your preferred cheat meal is not listed below please mention it in the comments section.

Diners

Café South

7901 Forest Pine Dr.

The Ambiance: Cozy hometown feel with exceptional customer service and larger-sized entrée portions. If you think it looks similar to a Bob Evans… that’s because it used to be one before Café South took over.

What to Order: Two Eggs and Country Fried Steak with white gravy ($8.95).

Hours of Operation: Monday – Saturday: 6AM – 10PM; Sunday: 7AM – 3PM.

Dish

1220 Thomas Ave.

The Ambiance: Down-home cookin’ served in an old-school café that’s complete with Grandma’s plates on the wall.

What to Order: Their Salmon Patties ($10.29) are the talk of the town and they come with a homemade biscuit and deviled egg. Dish also has a good selection of burgers that are all under $8 (Pimento Veggie Burger, anyone?).  

Hours of Operation: Monday – Thursday: 11AM – 10PM; Friday: 11AM – 10:30PM; Saturday: 10AM – 10:30PM; Sunday: Closed

Metro Diner

Various Locations

The Ambiance: This is a chain of diners, so ambiance will vary slightly from location to location. Expect classic checkered floors, a large bar with stools to sit at and wait staff with smiles on their faces.

What to Order: Go for the AM specialties (and bring your appetite because portions are gigantic). You can’t go wrong with The Bissell Breakfast ($9.99), which comes with two eggs any style, bacon, toast, hashbrowns or grits, and a short stack of pancakes. My husband and I usually share that with a Spicy Honey Chicken Biscuit ($3.99).

Hours of Operation: Varies by location.

The Mad Greek

5011 South Blvd.

The Ambiance: I consider this a Greek diner, complete with authentic cuisine and a picture of the Mediterranean Sea.  

What to Order: The Gyro Pita ($8.95) is a must try and it comes with a side of fries (sub rice, hummus or hashbrowns for no additional cost).

Hours of Operation: Sunday – Thursday: 10AM – 9PM; Friday – Saturday: 10AM – 9:30PM

Midnight Diner

115 E. Carson Blvd.

The Ambiance: Grab your poodle skirt ladies… slick back your hair gentlemen… and get ready to sing Grease Lightening. This joint is a flashback to a retro 1950s diner.

What to Order: Brunch-type entrees (surprise-surprise); Chicken and Waffles (2 Wings $8.99, 3 Wings $9.99 or sub French Toast for $1 more).

Hours of Operation: They’re open 24 hours, 7 days a week.

Drive-Ins

Barbecue King

2900 Wilkinson Blvd.

The Ambiance: A step back in time to the age of curb service and double-fried delights.

What to Order: Bar-B-Q Fried Chicken (1/4th $6.95 or Half Chicken $9.75) served with Fries, Cole Slaw and Dinner Rolls.

Hours of OperationTuesday – Saturday: 10:30AM – 10PM, Sunday – Monday: Closed

Hinsons Drive-in

12420 E. Independence Blvd., Matthews

The Ambiance: This place can easily be categorized as a Drive-in or Dive (or both), but you don’t go for the ambiance. This spot is family-owned and operated, typically filled with locals.

What to Order: Hinson Burger with Cheese ($3.50) and Krinkle-Cut French Fries ($2.25 small, $4 large) and an ice-cold beer (price varies).

Hours of OperationTuesday – Thursday: 11AM – 11PM; Friday: 11AM – 1:30PM; Saturday: 11AM – 7PM; Sunday: 12PM – 7PM

Mr. K’s Soft Ice Cream

2107 South Blvd.

The Ambiance: Walk-up and order your food from the counter, then find a spot to eat. The interior is small (but cozy) and there’s additional seating on the picnic tables outside.  

What to Order: A handspun milkshake ($3) and cheeseburger (choice of white, honey wheat or onion bun for $3.50).

Hours of OperationMonday – Friday: 11AM – 9PM; Saturday: 11AM – 4PM

Shuffletown Drive-In

10220 Rozzelles Ferry Rd.

The Ambiance: Another time-warp back to the late 1950’s. Imagine checkered floors, bright red leather stools and retro-fitted booths.  

What to Order: F-150 Country Plate ($6.75): 2 eggs any style with country friend steak that’s smothered in gravy and your choice of grits or hashbrowns and a piece of toast or a biscuit).

Hours of OperationMonday – Saturday: 6AM – 2:30PM; Sunday: Closed

Dives

Chubz Famous Chiliburgers

200A W. Woodlawn Rd.

The Ambiance: Walk in and order what you fancy from the big chalkboard behind the cashier. Seating is simple with stools or four-top tables. Nothing fancy here, so don’t expect the bells and whistles.

What to Order: They have weekly specials, so make sure to check those out. Otherwise, try the Combo #1 ($9.95), which consists of a Double Chili Cheeseburger with fries and a drink. May I also suggest the Extreme Cheese Fries ($9.50) that come with chili, cheese, steak, onions, peppers, Chubz sauce, BBQ and jalapenos.

Hours of Operation: Monday – Saturday: 11AM – 10PM; Sunday: 11:30AM – 4PM

Chuck’s Grill

8001 Old Statesville Rd.

The Ambiance: Don’t let this hole-in-the-wall’s exterior steer you away; it’s snug and warm on the inside and the home-cooked food will take you back to your childhood. Oh, and the rock-bottom prices are unreal.

What to Order: French Toast Special ($5.50), and go ahead and order a side of the Home Fries to go with it ($1.75).

Hours of Operation: Monday – Friday: 5:30AM – 2PM; Saturday: 5:30AM – 1pm; Sunday: 7AM – 1PM.

Zack’s Hamburgers

4009 South Blvd.

The Ambiance: No frills burger shack that’s been around since 1970s. There’s minimal seating, but you can always play it old-school and eat in the front seat of your car with your date.

What to Order: The Zack’s Special (which is basically a double-patty burger with the usual toppings and special sauce for $5.95). It comes with fries but the onion rings are something to talk about ($2.99).  

Hours of Operation:

Monday – Thursday: 11AM – 8:30PM; Friday: 11AM – 9PM; Saturday & Sunday: Closed

Honorable Mentions:

Our list could keep going with all of these 20 establishments featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” Check out the list and see what else strikes your fancy.

Plus, click on the restaurant name below to see a previous feature from C5!  

Bang Bang Burgers 

Brooks Sandwich House

Dixie Grill & Grocery

JJ’s Red Hots

Featured photo: Jessica Bentley

6 COMMENTS

  1. Brooks Sandwich Shop Honorable Mention?!
    Brooks would a list before the list started.

    Lived in Clt all my life, a few on the list I’ve not been to. Thanks for the DDD Map.

    BP

  2. What about Green’s Lunch in Uptown, the oldest restaurant in Charlotte. It’s crazy that Brooks and Green’s Lunch didn’t make the list. Please have someone who has lived in Charlotte before the 90s do these old school list. That way the list will include both the old school list and the new hipster list. It’s a great way to include places before all the new shiny growth.

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