A Year-Round Guide to Franklin and Nantahala

The Our State Great Debate: smashburger or thick burger? Char-Grill Part of a chain with about a dozen locations mostly around Raleigh, this spot specializes in charcoal-grilled burgers made to

Madison County Championship Rodeo

The Our State Great Debate: smashburger or thick burger? Char-Grill Part of a chain with about a dozen locations mostly around Raleigh, this spot specializes in charcoal-grilled burgers made to

Rosemary and Goat Cheese Strata

The Our State Great Debate: smashburger or thick burger? Char-Grill Part of a chain with about a dozen locations mostly around Raleigh, this spot specializes in charcoal-grilled burgers made to

8 Landmark Spots Serving Up Classic Burgers

The Our State Great Debate: smashburger or thick burger?


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, and the original location still looks the same as it did when it opened in 1959.

618 Hillsborough Street
Raleigh, NC 27603
(919) 821-7636


El’s Drive-In

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.

3706 Arendell Street
Morehead City, NC 28557
(252) 726-3002


Five Points Restaurant

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.

258 Broadway Street
Asheville, NC 28801
(828) 252-8030


John’s Drive-In

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!).

3716 North Virginia Dare Trail
Kitty Hawk, NC 27949
(252) 261-6227


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

Johnson’s Drive-In

For over 75 years, this Siler City mainstay has been topping burgers with thick slices of Velveeta, and every other topping you can think of. It’s not fancy or complicated, but it sure is delicious.

1520 East 11th Street
Siler City, NC 27344


Miller’s Restaurant no longer has the only pimento cheese burger around, but the faithful will tell you it’s still the best. photograph by Revival Creatives

Miller’s Restaurant

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.

710 Wilkesboro Street
Mocksville, NC 27028
(336) 751-2621


The Shake Shop’s signature meal, a Lottaburger, is stacked with slaw, tomato, and pickle. photograph by Tim Robison

Shake Shop

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.

505 West Church Street
Cherryville, NC 28021
(704) 435-5778


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

What-A-Burger

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.)

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

This story was published on Apr 28, 2022

Our State Staff

Since 1933, Our State has shared stories about North Carolina with readers both in state and around the world. We celebrate the people and places that make this state great. From the mountains to the coast, we feature North Carolina travel, history, food, and beautiful scenic photography.