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.
617 Hicks St., Durham
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.