You've got $10 in your pocket and you're starving, what to do? While you could hit the drive-though at McBurger Hut, why not spend your hard earned cash on something local and delicious? Look, I've been guilty of eating a chicken McNugget or White Castle sliders in my day but I always feel badly about not supporting my local businesses. Especially when you've got some great options here for cheap, meaty eats! Ranging from a double drive-thru, to a tiny, diner and even a place where you order on slips of paper pushed through a window slot. There are lots of options to keep you full and happy on a budget in the Raleigh area, read on my friends...
Let's start on Hillsborough Street in Raleigh where it meets up with Glenwood. You'll see smoke bellowing out of this classic Char-Grill and yes, it's hard not to get hungry if you're within a couple of blocks! Check out the old-school block letter signage up front and you know you're eating old-school. Grab a slip of paper, a #2 pencil and jot in your order. Slide it through the metal slot at the order window and hang out till your order's ready. You get to watch the Char-Grillers decked out in all white and paper hats, custom grill your order. Flames spurting around your food, Char-Grill definitely lives up to its name. Customers often wait in their cars since it'll be 10 minutes or so until you get your goodies.
You'll get your order in a white paper bag with a smile, very polite order-takers. And when they say Char-Grill they do mean it, the burgers here have a lot of smokiness in the flavor!
I typically get the regular burger as opposed to the 1/4 lb. steak-burger. I love their chili-cheeseburgers and southern red dogs (pink, pork dogs). Add in some apple turnovers and I'm going home happy. Char-Grill has been around for over 50 years so they must be doing something right!
A bit further down off of Hillsborough Street is the iconic Roast Grill. This tiny little diner keeps things simple, dishing out dogs with only a handful of options: mustard, slaw, chili and onions. The menu can't get simpler than this place: coke and one dog, coke and two dogs, coke and three dogs. Guess what comes next? Yep, coke and four dogs. However you can ask for your dog burnt and crispy which sort of gives you an option. The hot dogs here are good, skinless and the toppings make the difference. But the real reason to hit up Roast Grill is to see all the Raleigh locals enjoying a simple lunch at this classic hot dog joint. With only a handful of seats, you may have to get your dogs on the run. And don't even think about asking for ketchup, Roast Grill just says no to that tomatoey sauce...
Heading out west you'll find a small sandwich shop off of Tryon Road in Cary called Anvil's Cheesesteaks. While the menu is simple (12 sandwich options, chips and drinks), what Anvil's does to meat, cheese and bread is wonderfully special. They start off with a fresh Neomonde roll, fill it with plenty of grilled steak, add in some melty provolone and maybe some grilled onions and peppers for good measure. The melange of steak, cheese and veggies in your mouth makes for an awesomely delicious experience. And don't miss out on their roast pork sandwich with provolone and spinach, which is nearly as good as the steak.
So even if you need your food fast, you can support your local businesses by hitting up one of these old-school grills! I really don't mind doing a fast-food chain from time to time (and later paying a dear price for it) but it just feels better to eat local. There's nothing that hits my lunch spot better than unwrapping a good sandwich or dog, perfect when you're on the move. And it just tastes better when you're doing it on the cheap, bon appetit!
Cheap Eats for Meaty Fun