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

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.


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.


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.


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


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


  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.



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