And the winner is Keith Mason of Coats.
Mason won a pair of tickets to see Food Network host Guy Fieri’s traveling roadshow Saturday at Memorial Auditorium in Raleigh.
N&O readers had so many excellent recommendations for their favorite diners, drive-ins and dives (like the show that Fieri hosts) that I had to narrow the entries and choose the winner at random. Mason’s recommendations were Sadlack’s in Raleigh, Backyard Barbecue Pit, which has two locations in Durham, and Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill.
(Although I would quibble with the readers, like Mason, who suggested fine dining establishments like Crook's, Mo's Diner and Poole's Downtown Diner, are diners in the truest sense of the word. When entrees cost more than $20, that eatery is NOT a diner. I'm sure some of you also will quibble with your peers' recommendations below.)
Thanks to all who wrote in with their suggestions. The Gateway Restaurant and the Diner in Smithfield were the most recommended.
Here's a list of the most intriguing diners, drive-ins and dives suggested by readers:
(Please leave your comments, suggestions below.)
- Gateway Restaurant, 2411 Crabtree Blvd., Raleigh. Recommended: Barbecue chicken
- The Diner, 314 E. Market St., Smithfield.
- Owens 501 Diner, 1500 N. Fordham Blvd, Chapel Hill.
- Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen, 1305 E. Franklin St., Chapel Hill. Recommended: Anything on a biscuit. Cinnamon rolls. Even offer "doggie" biscuits for canines.
- Elmo's Diner, two locations: 776 Ninth St., Durham and 200 N. Greensboro St., Carrboro. Recommended: Gingerbread pancakes. Apple-stuffed french toast.
- Pan-Pan Hardtimes Diner, 1810 Hillandale Rd, Durham. Inside Northgate Mall. Recommended: Fried chicken and Waffles
- Bullock's Bar B Cue, 3330 Quebec Dr, Durham. Recommended: Obvious choices.
- Jamaica, Jamaica, 4857 NC Hwy 55, Durham. Recommended: Jerk Chicken
- Bavarian Brathaus, 6464 Tryon Rd, Cary. Recommended: Bratwursts.
- Pulcinella's Italian Restaurant, 4711 Hope Valley Rd., Durham.
- Fiesta Grill, 3307 Hwy. 54 W., in the White Cross area five miles west of Carrboro.
- Roast Grill, 7 S. West St., Raleigh. Recommended: Charred hot dogs with chili. Baklava. You are warned: Do NOT ask for ketchup.
- Cooper's Barbecue, 109 E. Davie St., Raleigh. Recommended: Obvious choices.
- Mama Dips Kitchen, 408 West Rosemary Street, Chapel Hill. Recommended: Chicken and dumplings. Chocolate pecan pie.
- Allen and Son's Pit Cooked BBQ, 6203 Millhouse Road, Chapel Hill. Recommended: Obvious choices.
- Cloos' Coney Island, 2233 Avent Ferry Rd, Ste 102,
Raleigh in Mission Valley shopping plaza. Recommended: Hot dogs.
- Gypsy's Shiny Diner, 1550 Buck Jones Rd., Raleigh
- Hayes Barton Cafe and Dessertery, 2000 Fairview Rd., Raleigh. Recommended: Anything in the dessert case.
- Lilly's Pizza, 1813 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh
- The Player's Retreat, 105 Oberlin Rd., Raleigh
- Finch's, 401 W. Peace St., Raleigh
- B's Barbecue, on no joke: 700 B's Barbecue Road, Greenville
- Kings BBQ restaurant, 405 E. New Bern Rd., Kinston. Recommended: Pig in a Puppy, a split hushpuppy topped with coleslaw and 'cue and eaten as a sandwich.
- Lovick's Cafe, 320 N. Herritage St., Kinston. Recommended: Dough burger
- Ken's Grill, 7645 Us Highway 70 W,
La Grange. Recommended: Friday night fish stew special.
- Joyce & Family Restaurant, 135 S. Main St., Fuquay Varina
- Don Don's Rockin Reggae, 1110 Navaho Dr Raleigh. Recommended: Jerk wings
- Stephenson’s Bar-B-Q, 11964 Hwy 50 N, Willow Spring
- Barry's Cafe, 2851 Jones Franklin Rd., Raleigh.
- Char-Grill, Six locations across Raleigh, check Web site. Recommended: Hamburgers. Milkshakes.
- Honey's Restaurant and Catering, 2700 Guess Rd., Durham.
- Sal’s Pizza & Italian, 2103 Allendown, Durham
- Shorty's Famous Hot Dogs, 214 S. White St., Wake Forest. Recommended: The hot dogs, of course.
- Dallas Famous Chicken n' Biscuits, 1101 E. Williams St., Apex. Recommended: Steak and gravy bisuit.
- The Mecca, 13 E. Martin St., Raleigh. Recommended: Fried chicken.
- The Cary Cafe, 904 N.E. Maynard Rd., Cary. Recommended: Chicken salad
- Em-R Wings, 518 E. Williams St., Apex
- NC Seafood Restaurant and Market, 1201 Agriculture St., Raleigh, at to the State Farmers Market.
- Campbell's Diner, 530 N. Main St., Fuquay Varina.
- Time Out, 133 W. Franklin St., Chapel Hill. Recommended: Chicken and cheese biscuit.
- Dick's Hot Dog Stand, 1500 Nash St. Wilson.
- Bill's Barbecue, 3007 Downing Street., Wilson.
- Stickland Dail Dining, 416 Kingold Blvd., Snow Hill. Recommended: The Buffet.
- Big Ed's City Market, 220 Wolfe St. Raleigh. Recommended: Breakfast sausage.
- Watkins Grill, 1625 Wake Forest Rd., Raleigh
- Yana's Restaurant, 119 Front Street, Swansboro
- Levy's Classic Chicken and Rib, 101 E Chapel Hill St., Durham
- Wilber's Barbecue, 4172 US Highway 70 E, Goldsboro
- Alfredo's Pizza Villa, 201 S Estes Dr. Chapel Hill
- Chubby's Tacos, two locations: 2444 Wycliff Road in Raleigh and 748 Ninth Street, Durham. Recommended: Carnitas with pineapple.
- Griffins Restaurant, 132 E Main St., Youngsville. Recommended: Biscuits.
- Lee's Kitchen, 4638 Capital Blvd, Raleigh. Recommended: Jerk wings.
- Merritt's Store & Grill, 1009 S Columbia St., Chapel Hill. Recommended: Single, double, or triple decker BLTs during tomato season.
- Taqueria La Vaquita, 2700 Chapel Hill Rd., Durham. Recommended: Guilotas Fritas, aka grilled quail. Pollo Enchipotlado.
- Cool Breeze, 740 E Chatham St., Cary. Recommended: Dahi Batata Puri.
- Tarts 50s Diner, 1038 George Perry Lee Rd Dunn.
- Mike's Farm Country Store & Restaurant,1600 Haw Branch Rd., Beulaville.
- Wimpy's Grill, 617 Hicks St., Durham
- Fonda y Birrieria Jalisco, 1600 Ronald Dr., Raleigh. Recommended: Tacos al pastor. Goat meat dishes.
- Ye Olde Country Kitchen, 327 Drama Rd., Snow Camp. Recommended: Fried squash.