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, and the original location still looks the same as it did when it opened in 1959.
Established in 1959, the sign out front at El’s boasts of their signature Superburgers, which are served “all the way” with chili, slaw, and onions, of course! And don’t worry — if you’re resisting the pull of the Superburger and craving a taste of the coast, El’s serves up a Super Shrimpburger, too.
From the Pizza Burger to the Five Points Burger — a patty piled high with barbecue sauce, mushrooms, Cheddar cheese, and bacon — Five Points Restaurant has been serving up comforting classics in Asheville for nearly 50 years.
We know: John’s Drive-In is known for its Dolphin Boat Sandwich — and we don’t mean to distract you from the menu item that’s been their signature for more than 43 years! We just want you to know that John’s also makes a pretty mean burger. Want to try it for yourself? Take a trip to Kitty Hawk and order the triple cheeseburger (yes, we said triple!).
At Johnson’s Drive-In, customers can go all the way and enjoy burgers topped with Velveeta, slaw, mustard, onions, and chili. Or they can keep it simple, with just lettuce and tomato. Like the buns and meat, all of it is bought fresh that morning. photograph by Taylor Mathis
Everybody knows a cheeseburger without the cheese is, well, just a burger. But in Mocksville, where a former truck stop has evolved into arguably Davie County’s best-known culinary institution, it’s not the slice of cheese that makes the burger special — it’s the slather. More specifically, a slather of pimento cheese. More than 60 years ago in Davie County, hamburger met pimento cheese … and the rest is history.
The Shake Shop has been serving its signature Lottaburgers for more than 50 years. What’s a Lottaburger, you ask? “Lotta” means a style unique to the Shake Shop, and to Cherryville: slaw, tomato, and pickle. The origins of the Lottaburger name are in some dispute, but there’s no question about what it is: two burgers cooked on a flattop grill and served inside a hoagie-type bun.
Interpreting the menu at a North Carolina What-A-Burger sometimes takes help from a local: The What-A-Cheeseburger is larger than the regular cheeseburger, and comes with pickles, lettuce, tomato, onion, and mustard. photograph by Joshua Vasko
The 1960s architecture, croaking call boxes, and carhops toting plastic trays stacked with steaming burgers, fries, and frosty shakes: What-A-Burger — the beloved North Carolina chain, not the popular Texas franchise — is a living remnant from a time when cars were king. (Not all locations are owned by the same family, so there may be variations in the curb-service style and the menus.)
One of the last old-school fish houses in Onslow County stands sentry on the White Oak River. Clyde Phillips Seafood Market has served up seafood and stories since 1954 — an icon of the coast, persevering in pink.