With shiny new buildings popping up all over Charlotte, our last remaining dive bars are stirring up romanticized nostalgia of days gone by. And although they may look rough on the outside (and sometimes the inside), everyone knows a cold beer or a shot of whiskey don’t require much frill. Dive bars are unapologetically unfussy and that’s the appeal. But what about dive restaurants? Is the allure the same when they’re prepping your food on the other side of that run down exterior? We say absolutely yes.
Even as a chef who spends a lot of time perfecting plating aesthetics, I love a no nonsense comfort food spot where presentation doesn’t matter and I can leave my inhibitions at the door.
So I’ve compiled a list of dive restaurants that may look a little sketchy on the outside, but have delicious food on the inside.
In no particular order, here are Charlotte’s top dive restaurants. (As for dive ethnic cuisine, that’s another article in and of itself so stay tuned for that one.)
Let’s get to it, shall we?
2718 Monroe Road, Charlotte, NC
What to get: They’re known for their chili, including Texas, Cincinnati, Vegetarian and Southern varieties. Pro tip: get it over the nachos. There are great comfort food specials too. Monday: Meatloaf, Tuesday: Fettuccine Alfredo, Wednesday: Spaghetti, Thursday: Chicken n’ Dumplings.
1220 Thomas Avenue, Charlotte, NC
What to get: Straight up Southern classics. Meatloaf, chicken ‘n’ dumplings, deviled eggs, chicken livers, country fried steak, salmon patties, pot roast, etc. PIES. Yes, to all of the pies.
1600 W. Morehead Street, Charlotte, NC
What to get: Fried pickles, burgers (ask for it ‘ding dong style’ to add crunchy peanut butter, honey cilantro slaw and hot Sriracha sauce), hot dogs and anything with pimiento cheese.
4429 Central Avenue, Charlotte, NC 28205
What to get: Large menu with tons of options, reminiscent of a NY/NJ diner. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, they’ve got it all. Pancakes, French toast, waffles, omelets and hash browns. Greek owned so authentic specialties like souvlaki are available. Top notch dessert and bakery case.
It Lives Up To Its Name A photo posted by @calmearthmassage on
10403 Park Road, Charlotte, NC
What to get: All the wings! The hot gold sauce is money. Fried pickle spears with hot ranch dipping sauce.
1614 Camden Road Charlotte, NC
What to get: Fried chicken, duh… Cash only and takeout only. Everyone says to get the fried sweet potato pie for dessert, just sayin’.
New meets old. A photo posted by Charlotte Agenda (@charlotteagenda) on
617 S Sharon Amity Road, Charlotte, NC
What to get: Breakfast all day long! Omelets are good, as well as hash browns and biscuits. Word on the street is the She Crab soup is legit. Weekly specials are solid, as well.
1901 Commonwealth Avenue, Charlotte, NC
What to get: Small Block burger (all the way with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, mayo, pickles), fried pickles, black bean burger, Winky-Dinky Dog (with pimento cheese and chili). One of my favorite casual lunch spots.
12721 Albemarle Road, Charlotte, NC
What to get: Fried oysters, fried green tomatoes, po’ boy. I’ve also heard that their salmon and bacon-wrapped flounder is great.
A photo posted by Alex Cason (@zandercason) on
2710 N. Brevard Street, Charlotte, NC
What to get: Burgers. Be sure to get them “all the way” with their famous chili.
2121 Shamrock Drive Charlotte, NC
What to get: Hummachos (hummus, sauteed ground beef, veggies and feta cheese over pita) and pimiento cheese fritters to start. Follow that up with some honey pecan chicken or country fried pork with a side of fried okra.