Greensboro’s Ten Best late-night eats
2411 Battleground Ave., 336.288.8643
The hellish-looking neon flames and industrial-age smokestacks that embellish the four Cook Out boxes around town make this restaurant hard to miss. The devilish and industrial themes may help explain YES! Weekly graphic designer Lisa Ellisor’s love for the place. She strongly recommends the ‘Cook Out Tray,’ a meal for $3.99 that includes a sandwich, two sides and a drink, which can be upgraded to a milkshake for an additional 90 cents. The menu favors self-indulgent comfort food, including char-grilled burgers, hot dogs, grilled chicken, barbecue, onion rings, chicken nuggets, corndogs, chili and coleslaw. The restaurants are open until 4 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, and until 3 a.m. the rest of the week, but the restaurants plan to expand to 24-hour service soon, says Norman Freeman, manager of the Battleground Avenue store.
Mrs. Winner’s Chicken & Biscuits
814 Summit Ave., 336.272-3900
Starchy biscuits are a dining staple in the Carolinas for budget-conscious working stiffs. Mrs. Winner’s is a brand owned by the Atlanta-based RTM Restaurant Group, operator of 895 restaurants across the country. Following a path trod by the global Kentucky Fried Chicken, the eatery offers baked beans, French fries, Cajun rice, and mashed potatoes and gravy, not to mention the greasy combination that is its namesake. Their $1.99 special of two pieces of dark meat, two sides and a biscuit is available around the clock.
Corner of Holden and High Point roads, 336.292-8088
Inspired by the 1968 movie about a cute VW bug with a mind of its own, this new Greensboro restaurant showcases a couple of nearly full-sized models of the bug that are implanted in the outside walls ‘— probably a good thing considering the resourcefulness of teenagers who like to heist such things. Open 24 hours, Herbie’s caters to retail and small manufacturing employees getting off work, along with barflies and cops, who descend on the place from parts around High Point Road. Herbie’s is ‘“a clean, well-lighted place’” ‘— a fine thing as anyone who reads Hemingway knows. The waitresses are brisk, the grill hums with activity behind the counter and all the rest of the seating is in plump booths. The big seller is the daily breakfast special of eggs, bacon, hotcakes and grits for $3.29 on weekdays and a dollar extra on weekends and holidays.
Various Greensboro, High Point and Archdale locations
Phyllis, a waitress at the restaurant’s High Point Road location, doesn’t hesitate to enumerate the charms of Carolina’s Diner: ‘“Good looking waitresses like me’…’”
‘“And me!’” her coworker chimes in.
‘“’…A pretty cool menu and beautiful customers.’”
Excepting nine hours between 9 p.m. on Sunday and 6 a.m. on Monday, Carolina’s Diner feeds the bartenders and bar patrons of the Triad as they wind down the night. The High Point Road location in Greensboro is not too far from Ace’s Basement and no doubt helps some of the skinny rockers fend off starvation. ‘“Nothin’ could be finer’” is their motto, and with a menu of country-fried steak, barbecue pork and sides of fried okra, turnip greens, black eyed peas and fried apples we’d be hard pressed to disagree.
Your House Restaurant
2306 Battleground Avenue, 336.288.6895
Your House serves breakfast 24 hours a day, the specialty of the ubiquitous meal being the strawberry cream waffle, says shift manager Jennifer Weeks. Many customers favor the baby-back ribs that are served on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. During every other part of the week there are a wide range of offerings from steak and eggs to the grilled chicken chef salad. The restaurant’s clientele represents the whole wash of humanity. ‘“Everybody from everyday working people to multimillionaires,’” Weeks says. ‘“We have ’em in from concerts and the clubs. Some of them work for the city and the county. We have one lady who comes in from Virginia every two weeks.’”
411 Tate St., 336.370.9997
Yes, we at YES! Weekly have a thing for Jimmy John’s sub sandwiches. And in the interest of full disclosure, we’ll acknowledge that ad money and baseball tickets have changed hands, and confirm the fact that a 6-foot sandwich once arrived on our doorstep unsolicited. But the proof is in the fixings: the rank-and-file don’t buy lunch just to help management close business deals around here. Jimmy John’s bread is almost elastic with gluten, their sliced meats piled on thick, the vegetables fresh and the olive oil and vinegar tangy, so we imagine the sleep-deprived students at UNCG eat it up. The Tate Street location is open until 3 a.m.
3932-B W. Market St., 336.855.9808
Drag queens and milk truck drivers agree about the satiating qualities of the homemade chicken vegetable soup they make at Jan’s House, says Tracy Mason, who manages the second and third shifts. And all are welcome to ‘“sit around for years’” after their dishes are cleared. The after-hours crowd streams in from the Coliseum, the bars and various workplaces to ingest Jan’s House’s hefty burgers, chef salads, steaks and waffles. A meal will cost you between five and ten bucks.
4220 W. Wendover Ave., 336.297.4141
Jake’s Diner ‘— so named for the owners’ 9-year-old son ‘— slings tried-and-true burgers, steaks and grilled chicken. They do breakfast 24 hours a day, and bring in a good bar crowd after midnight, says waitress Vanna Bishop. They also no doubt pull in some business from the road since Jake’s sits a hundred feet or so from the on-ramp that funnels traffic from West Wendover onto Interstate 40. Too bad probably for their corporate cousin, the Waffle House, whose real estate is in back of the family-owned Jake’s. Hands down the most popular plate is the ‘Fat Cat Special,’ Bishop says. For $7.95, patrons can scarf down a waffle, three eggs, a choice of bacon or sausage, and a choice of hash browns and grits, and toast. Full yet?
3900 S. Holden Road, 336.632.1021
Like a slightly more polished Waffle House, the 24-hour Denny’s, a South Carolina-based chain, seems to have perfected Americana breakfast cuisine. When I was a kid I thought of Denny’s as the mecca of hipsters on the American road trip. Later when I attended college in the middle of an Ohio cornfield, my friends and I would drive 20 miles in the middle of the night to eat at Denny’s. We can’t imagine that either demographic can long resist the lures of the chain’s Greensboro location down in 1-85 land. Chocolate peanut butter pie, anyone? Carrot cake? It’s nothing too original, but the glutton in us likes the sound of hash browns soaked with broken egg yolks, potatoes and various meat and vegetable ingredients scrambled into eggs, and pancakes and whipped cream stuffed with various fruits.
Various Greensboro locations
The Waffle House is an old standby for 24-hour dining, less notable perhaps for its local luster than as a beacon on the lonely highway. We want to give props to the WH for maintaining an old-fashioned A-side/B-side jukebox,
although lately they’ve added the new-fangled CD-play option as well. And where else can you find a diner whose jukebox plays venue-customized songs such as Blue Miller’s ‘“Special Lady at the Waffle House’” and Bill Kahler’s ‘“Grill Operator,’” not to mention Elvis’ ‘“American Trilogy’” and Fantasia’s ‘“Baby Mama’”? The pecan waffles, chop steaks and omelets are always satisfying, and the multitude of hash brown toppings are extravagant and kooky.
This honor goes to Fincastle’s Diner.
215 Elm St., 336.272.8968. (See story page 24)