A Year-Round Guide to Franklin and Nantahala

Blackwood’s Drive-In There are no speakers under the covered parking area, but an energetic carhop will come by quickly. While Blackwood’s has a good burger, don’t forget the homemade Cherry

Rosemary and Goat Cheese Strata

Blackwood’s Drive-In There are no speakers under the covered parking area, but an energetic carhop will come by quickly. While Blackwood’s has a good burger, don’t forget the homemade Cherry

Blackwood’s Drive-In

There are no speakers under the covered parking area, but an energetic carhop will come by quickly. While Blackwood’s has a good burger, don’t forget the homemade Cherry Lemon Sun Drop with added maraschino cherries (ours had 16 in a single cup).

201 York Road, Kings Mountain


Cardinal Drive-In

You can order from your car or go inside and order on a telephone from your booth. Either way, Cardinal is a family-style classic for burgers and shakes.

344 South Broad Street, Brevard


Char-Grill

Part of a chain with about a dozen locations, mostly around Raleigh, this spot specializes in charcoal-grilled burgers made to order. You have to walk up to the window to place your order, but the original location still looks the same as it did when it opened in 1959.

618 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh


Dairy Center

With exclusively curbside service now, you don’t even have to order from the take-out window to be rewarded with Mount Airy’s classic: the ground-steak sandwich, a sort of Sloppy Joe that apparently dates back to the 1930s. The ice cream is awfully good, too.

407 West Lebanon Street, Mount Airy


South 21 Drive In

The 1955 original on South Boulevard is gone, but the second location, built in 1959, has survived all the changes on Independence Boulevard (U.S. Highway 74).

3101 East Independence Boulevard, Charlotte


The Witch Doctor may have been named for the 1958 novelty song by David Seville, but no one knows for sure. You can still order a Double What-A-Burger with crinkle-cut pickle slices. photographs by Joshua Vasko

What-a-Burger

No, we didn’t forget What-a-Burger. Not all of them are owned by the same family, so there may be variations in the curb-service style and the menus.

1252 Old Charlotte Road Southwest, Concord
34 Church Street South, Concord
1510 North Cannon Boulevard, Kannapolis
926 South Main Street, Kannapolis
210 South Main Street, Mooresville
8330 West Franklin Street, Mount Pleasant
917 South Madison Street, Whiteville
101 North Central Avenue, Locust

[Related: Read more about the history of What-a-Burger]

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This story was published on Aug 28, 2020

Kathleen Purvis

Purvis is the food editor for The Charlotte Observer. She is the author of two Savor the South Cookbooks: Pecans and Bourbon. Purvis has been cookbook awards chair for the James Beard Awards since 2000.