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Penguin Drive-In CLOSED

1921 Commonwealth Avenue Charlotte, NC 28205
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Reviews (28)

  • Posted by Misty July 2013

    Attention, people! The chefs that ran the Penguin no longer are at that restaurant. It might explain how the restaurant has gone to crap in recent times. Please visit their restaurant, the Diamond, located around the block from the Penguin. Still the same AWESOME burgers, still the same AWESOME fried pickles, and the AWESOME chefs! I say this as a long-time fan of the food and the people there, and I don't want their reputation to be ruined because of the unscrupulous actions of the Penguin management.

  • Posted by June 2013

    We were on our way to Myrtle Beach and went out of our way to eat at one of the restaurants featured on 3D. Unfortunately, we were driving through on a Sunday so most of the restaurants were closed on Sundays. The Penguin Drive In was open so we thought we would try it. My first clue to get up and leave was when I went into the bathroom. It was dirty and the soap bottle was a ketchup bottle with dish soap in it. My second clue was watching the cook working in the back without a hat on and handling food without gloves. I work in the foodservice industry so I know what the regulations are. Our waitress acted like she had just walked in from the bar after one too many. The clencher was the food. After praying that I wouldn't get food poisoning I took a chance and ate the food. I don't know what Guy Fieri saw in this restaurant because no one in my family was impressed. It took forever to get our food and then our waitress never came over to see how our food was and then we had to wait forever for our check. It isn't worth your time or money.

  • Posted by kackster_ June 2013

    Went there with my friends because we were on that side of town. The food took forever almost 45 mins. It was a mcdonalds size hamburger and a dry bbq sandwich. Overpriced and boring. So we left and decided not to go back. Not really big complainers. However i saw this on tripple d one day and almost spit up my drink. i had to warn the public as it is my duty to make sure no more injustices happen to anyone else. foodies beware

  • Posted by foodnuts55 April 2013

    We were there today & it was HORRIBLE!!!!! We waited only 15 min for table but 45 min for our food & never got the fried pickles we ordered. After 45 min we weren't about to wait any long so never tried them. I ordered the pimento grilled cheese & it came soaked in grease hardly grilled & the pimento cheese was not only not melted, it was ice cold. YUCK!! The fries were pretty nasty too. My husband liked his burger tho but not worth the trip for us. We'll try The Diamond where the good cooks apparently went to.

  • Posted by jrm March 2013

    made a special trip because heard it was good but it was bad. we waited for an hour for our food to be served. the fries were not cooked all the way,they were soft. was told the African dog was great and the burgers. when we got them surprise,it was a regular hot dog and the burgers were smaller than a donut. was not happy with this place .

  • Posted by ngorm December 2012

    This place was horrible, the fried pickles were bland, and onion rings had no flavor. Some of them were the skin, so of the 5 rings got 2 were not edible. The burgers were nothing special and didnt even have the correct ingredients on them
    But the worst was the service, we had to ask another waitress to take our order, and the table that came in10 min after us got their food before us. We had finished eating and waited 15 minutes for our check which we never got, nor did we get refills on our your time and money and go to mcdonalds

  • Posted by Frances Richter August 2012

    The place is fantastic. Love going there. I take all my family, friends and out of town visitors. It is a great place to visit, eat and hang out.

  • Posted by Lowvoltguy May 2012

    Had dinner there last night.  Everyone really enjoyed their food!  Will be back.

  • Posted by Anonymous April 2012

    Penguin has changed owners. Old owners now have Pinky's Westside Grill.

  • Posted by Anonymous March 2012

    To reiterate, the penguin does exist but is a shadow of its former self. Right next door is the diamond diner which is where the cooks went. The diamond has fantastic food and staff :)

  • Posted by Anonymous January 2012

    As another guest pointed out, The Penguin Guy visited is no more. The atmosphere and food moved to The Diamond. (We got lucky and a friend in Charlotte stopped us from going to The Penguin and clued us in on The Diamond.)

  • Posted by October 2011

    The place was filthy. Could have sworn we saw mouse droppings.

  • Posted by Anonymous October 2011

    My wife and I took an English friend - who was passing through Charlotte - there about 18 months ago and we loved it! Just as it was on DDD... the burgers were huge and had great flavor and the fried pickles were great. We had occasion to be in Charlotte last week and decided to detour a bit and hit the Penguin for a late lunch... To my immense disappointment, the place had lost all of its character and dive-ness - the menu had been completely changed to cash in on the DDD visit and the quality/taste had gone away. I think this place has changed hands to people that just want to cash in on Guy's visit. AVOID!

  • Posted by Anonymous April 2011

    PS-- if you want to experince the Penguin as shown on DDD, the owners who were essentially ousted from the building/business have opened a similar place about 1/2 block away-- The Diamond. 

  • Posted by Anonymous April 2011

    They are reopened but with a different owner.  The building has been "The Penguin" for well over 50 years, but the neighborhood had gotten somewhat seedy and the business was all but defunct with the original owner. The owner of the building (the son of the original Penguin owner) leased it to the previous business owners of approximately 10 years, but kept the rights to the name.  When it came time to renew the lease, the building owner wanted to increase their rent which the business owners couldn't justify paying.  So the building owner found a restaurant conglomerate with multiple chain-style restaurants to rent to, and they reopened as "The Penguin" and are reportedly going to try to franchise the business that the last Penguin owners built from essentially nothing. 

  • Posted by Guest March 2011

    The Penquin Drive-In in Charlotte North Carolina is open again. We were there Saturday and Sunday via James Christian.

  • Posted by Phillip January 2011

    Penguin just re-opened on January 15, 2011. They are back and re-modeled.

  • Posted by Anonymous January 2011

    Rumor is that this place is now "CLOSED", let know if you get there and it is.

  • Posted by Barry in MI August 2010

    Best banana pudding I ever had. I had the big block burger with bacon and was very good. Could have eaten the triple. Not a big fan of fried pickles but everyone else liked them....very salty. Prepare for a wait. Definitely would go back.

  • Posted by Chris Doering August 2010

    On the third stop of our Triple-D family vacation we finally found Flavor Town USA.  We arrived at 7:30 on a Thursday evening and the 20-25 minute wait was worth every moment. The fried pickles were a must according to Guy’s visit.  I have never eaten a fried pickle and this version was outstanding.  They came out extremely hot but were appetizing once I was able to start inhaling them.  I ordered the Big Block Burger Southern Style, topped with chili, mustard, onions, and cole slaw.   WOW!!!  I believe this is the best burger that I have ever had the pleasure of eating.  The flavor never stopped and I couldn’t stop eating this juicy and incredibly tasty burger.  We ordered two Small Block Burgers and my daughter finished hers before me, that was a first.  She also could not stop eating after her first bite.  The crinkle cut fries and thin sliced onion rings were perfectly cooked and first-rate.  The prices were very, very reasonable and the service was quick and efficient.  To top it off, the beers were cold and priced right.  Just wish we lived closer to this top notch DDD stop.

  • Posted by SDO April 2010

    Great burgers.  Long lines.  Went at 2:30 on a Tuesday afternoon, line out the door.

  • Posted by Chapter 11 Dubs February 2010

    Best fried pickles and Banana pudding in the country, hands down.

  • Posted by John and Kierston February 2010

    This was the first place my girlfriend and I hit up on our new quest to visit all the triple D places Guy has ever been to.  If the rest of them are as great as the penguin was it will be a perfect life!  They were crazy busy on a wet, cold Friday night in January, and even though we had to find a place to stand and wait, it was fun to get a glass of beer and enjoy the ambiance.  Definitely a mix of young and old, with a real artsy type crowd that night.  Had a laugh overhearing an obvious regular talk about his favorite aspect of Adam Lambert.  Once we sat down the waitress was cool and nice and even remembered what type of beer we had ordered at the bar/counter earlier.  We had the fried pickles, which were the best I have ever had, and the asian style wings, that I loved so much I was sopping up the sauce with the last couple wings.  We then Had the double and triple cheeseburger - called a full blown hemi.  Biggest thing I have ever tried to eat and got it Carolina Style: chili and slaw. Incredibly well priced and a really great meal at a fun fun place.  By the way, no more smoking in NC restaurants and bars so you don't have to worry about that anymore.

  • Posted by C Dikmen January 2010

    Fried pickles were very good and the burger and rings were good too. Only complaint was that it was very smokey in there (cigarettes).

  • Posted by Strykur October 2009

    Awesome fried pickles and banana pudding!

  • Posted by Rhonda Pate McKenna September 2009

    Fried Pickles alone are worth the 2 hour trip for me!!! Burgers are to die for.  Service can be hit or miss. 

  • Posted by Steve "Big Poppa" Herbert July 2009

    Stopped in twice so far. Very cool vibe. As an owner/operator of a similar restaurant in Mooresville, NC, we really enjoyed the burgers. The service was great and there is always a line to get in, especially on sundays. We will be going back with friends on our harleys soon.

  • Posted by Birdie & Teresa April 2009

    Friendly staff & good food. We got there after the noon hour, and it was still crowded! My wife liked the fried pickles-I am still not a fan though. My burger was good, and my wife liked the grilled cheese, but if we ever make it back there, she would like to try something else.

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