Cheap Eats

Cheap Eats: A local ‘Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives’ tour

May 25, 2012 

Thanks to enthusiastic suggestions from several readers, this month’s itinerary takes us on a tour inspired by the Food Network series “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”

Gypsy’s Shiny Diner

1550 Buck Jones Road, Raleigh


Specialty: classic diner fare

In a nutshell: A retro chrome-clad building and a jukebox spinning tunes from the ‘50s and ‘60s set the mood at this blast-from-the-past diner. True to tradition, you can even satisfy a 3 a.m. Saturday morning craving for waffles. Allow plenty of time, because service can be variable.

Try: Corned beef hash, chicken-fried steak open-faced sandwich, homemade potato chips (also available as a breakfast side), old-fashioned milkshakes.

Joyce & Family

129 N. Main St., Fuquay-Varina


Specialty: Southern home cooking

In a nutshell: A recent relocation to roomier quarters allowed this former buffet eatery to grow into a full-service restaurant. The offering has expanded, too, but Joyce Staton still cooks everything from scratch. Bring family or friends and order family style: your choice of two all-you-can-eat main courses and three sides for a set price.

Try: Fried chicken is a must; other winners include chicken and pastry, green beans, yams, mac and cheese, banana pudding and house-baked cakes.

Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen

1305 E. Franklin St., Chapel Hill


Specialty: biscuit sandwiches

In a nutshell: This Chapel Hill landmark with a drive-through window is as close as you’ll get to a drive-in restaurant nowadays in these parts. There’s no seating, so plan on a picnic – most likely in your car, as you’ll no doubt quickly surrender to the tempting aroma of buttermilk biscuit.

Try: The fried-chicken biscuit is deservedly famous, though the BLT and country ham and egg biscuits are also worth the wait in the drive-through line.

Wimpy’s Grill

617 Hicks St., Durham


Specialty: burgers

In a nutshell: Grab plenty of napkins, because the house-ground, hand-formed burgers are juicy at this tiny takeout joint. The place is only open weekdays from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. (they do a solid breakfast biscuit business in the mornings, too), and it’s cash only. Rest assured, your flexibility will be rewarded.

Try: The Garbage Burger (two quarter-pound patties, homemade chili, bacon, slaw, pickles, onions and cheese) if you dare. I’m partial to the classic double cheeseburger.

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