Diners, Drive-ins and Dives: The Charlotte Tour

To date, the Food Network show has visited 18 Charlotte restaurants.

Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives has been on the air for more than a decade, debuting its first episode in April 2007. In that time, host Guy Fieri—affectionately known as the "Mayor of Flavortown"—has visited countless local favorites, greasy spoons and off-the-beaten path eateries that offer gems of culinary delights. He's pulled a seat up to 18 Charlotte-area restaurants; discover his favorites on this culinary tour. 


Bar-B-Q King in Charlotte

Bar-B-Q King

(2007) Season 1, Episode 5

Guy Fieri chose this Charlotte dining staple to appear on the first season of his iconic show. Featured on an episode about America's best barbecue, Fieri found the chicken to be king here. In this classic drive-in's tried-and-true recipe—unchanged since 1959—the chicken is first fried, then dunked in barbecue sauce. 


South 21 Drive-in

(2010) Season 8, Episode 6

Fieri didn't return to the Queen City until three years later, but when he did, it was for a year-long sampling of great eats. First up was South 21 Drive-in, open since 1955, a classic stop for milkshakes, fries and the Super Boy, a double-decker burger. Fieri reveled in the signature burger, as well as the Fish-O-Burger, onion rings and Southern fried chicken. 


Dish restaurant Charlotte

Dish

(2010) Season 8, Episode 8

Dish appeared on DDD's "Comfort Food Classics" episode in 2010. Its warm and casual atmosphere, which Food Network describes as "like walking into someone's grandmother's house," stands out almost as much as its creative comforts; Fieri's favorites were the fried green tomatoes and the chicken and biscuits.  


Landmark Diner

(2010) Season 8, Episode 10

Fieri's last Season 8 episode in Charlotte focused on this Greek family restaurant and friendly diner. Calling it an oasis for East Coast travelers, Fieri said he could eat the "spanakopita" not once, but 36 times (the number of sections it's cut into when it comes out of the oven); he also honed in on the goodies from the dessert case the very moment he stepped into the restaurant.


Cabo Fish Taco in Charlotte

Cabo Fish Taco

(2010) Season 9, Episode 4

The prospect of dining on fish tacos in North Carolina reeled Fieri, a northern California native, into Cabo Fish Taco. Fieri was taken with the barbecue Mahi tacos, made with locally grown ingredients and spices—he proclaimed them as having a "ton of flavor." 


Jake's Good Eats

(2010) Season 9, Episode 6

An eclectic menu served up in a converted gas station drew Fieri into Jake's Good Eats. He found that the cuisine lived up to the name at this eatery run by two brothers; the maple-glazed pork chop, venison quesadilla and country ham grit cakes were among Fieri's favorites.


Tin Kitchen Charlotte

Pinky's Westside Grill, Pit Road Bar & Grill and Tin Kitchen 

(2015) Season 22, Episode 8

Fieri practically made himself at home in Charlotte in 2015—he visited seven restaurants, including a trifecta in this high-octane episode when he teamed up with NASCAR driver Clint Bowyer. Pinky's chef Greg Auten was the first to appear on DDD for two different restaurants (the first was the now-defunct Penguin Drive-in, featured in Season 1); Fieri favored Pinky's' triple "G" burger and corn-dog shrimp. Next, the host raced over to Pit Road Bar & Grill for the spicy Hot Lap sandwich and Moon Pie sliders. He was then driven to culinary nirvana when visiting one of Tin Kitchen's food trucks—at which he found the pork belly tacos and buffalo cauliflower sliders standouts.


Krazy Fish

(2015) Season 22, Episode 11

Szechuan-salmon tacos and seafood Creole were among the sensations that got Fieri's taste buds watering at Krazy Fish. The diverse menu is a delicious merge of Asian, Caribbean, Latin and Southern flavors. In addition to its 2015 appearance on DDD, in 2016 it was featured on "Guy's Grocery Games." 


300 East in Charlotte

300 East 

(2015) Season 22, Episode 11

This restaurant set in a historic house was the highlight of Fieri's "Indulgent Dishes" episode. The independent, family-owned restaurant is known for its creative, New American-style dishes such as Fieri's favorites: lamb ragout and the ice cream sandwich in rotating flavors. 


Intermezzo Cafe

(2015) Season 22, Episode 13

What happens when you combine a pizzeria with Serbian-style recipes? This stunner, the last of Fieri's visits to Charlotte in Season 22. Top selections at this "Intercontinental Flavorfest" are the European-style calzones, cabbage rolls and the Piroska, a Balkan-style stuffed pizza made with ham, mushrooms, mozzarella, ricotta and sour cream.


Mert's Heart & Soul 

(2015) Season 23, Episode 1

Discover soul food at its finest, as Fieri did, at Mert's Heart & Soul. Dig into Lowcountry favorites such as collard greens and shrimp and grits, or spring for the famous soul roll, an egg roll filled with blackeyed peas, rice, collared greens and chicken, served with a spicy honey mustard sauce. 


Papi Queso Food Truck Charlotte

Papi Queso Food Truck 

(2017) Season 26, Episode 4

Grilled cheese goes gourmet at Papi Queso, and Fieri couldn't resist. He raved about the sandwich locals go out of their way to seek the food truck for—the Pig Mac sandwich, which has cheddar cheese slices layered between bechamel mac & cheese, caramelized bourbon onions and pulled pork. 


JJ's Red Hots 

(2017) Season 26, Episode 4

Also in the episode named "Swiss, Sandwiches and Sausage," Fieri visited a hot-dog lovers' institution: JJ's Red Hots. The Austrian-style sausages are made from scratch using a 85/15 blend of pork butt and chuck—which Fieri exclaimed was "legit" after he launched into a chili-cheese Coney. 


The Improper Pig 

(2017) Season 26, Episode 5

Fieri loved the Asian influences that made The Improper Pig's barbecue stand out from the pack. He couldn't get enough of the Chow Bao taco, with your choice of meat (Fieri tried the pulled pork) tossed in spicy hoisin sauce and loaded up with Asian slaw before being stuffed in a steamed bao bun.  


Bang Bang Burgers Charlotte

Bang Bang Burgers 

(2017) Season 26, Episode 5

Fieri's love of the burger plays out deliciously in the high-quality cuts of Black Angus chuck and short rib at Bang Bang Burgers; all meat comes from the LaFrieda family, who have been producing dry-aged steaks and meats since 1922. A Charlotte favorite, the pimento burger—topped with the aforementioned cheese and fried pickles (the "kicker," according to Fieri)—was at the top of the host's list.  


Salud Beer Shop 

(2017) Season 27, Episode 7 

NoDa's Salud Beer Shop is home to some of Charlotte's best sandwiches, and Fieri was imbued in the way of the waffle-wich in this recent visit. He opted for a killer s'mores-inspired creation, made from a meringue-laced batter and graham cracker crumbs, chocolate sauce and a giant house-made marshmallow that's caramelized with a torch before serving. 


Heist Brewery Charlotte

Heist Brewery 

(2017) Season 26, Episode 8

Fieri turned his eye to Charlotte's thriving craft beer scene when visiting Heist Brewery. He found Heist full of good eats, such as the duck confit flatbread and the Burger Burger Burger slider trio—a trifecta of brisket, porterhouse and chuck patties topped with bacon jam, garlic-herb goat cheese, roasted tomatoes and barbecue sauce on a brioche bun. 

Jennifer McKee
About the author

Jennifer is the Managing Editor of Morris Visitor Publications, where she has worked since 2005. She is also the edit...