Food and Drink

Take a trip to Flavortown: 5 ways to eat like Guy Fieri in Charlotte

Photo by Jennings Cool
Cabo Fish Taco
Photo by Jennings Cool Cabo Fish Taco

Guy Fieri, host of Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, has taken many trips to “Flavortown” in our very backyard. His spiked, bleach-blonde tips have been spotted several times chowing down on some good-eats within Charlotte’s city limits. 

For those who have never seen his show, Fieri would pack up his Camaro and travel across the country to find the best-of-the-best when it comes to greasy-spoon eateries. His goal? Find the diners, drive-ins and dives that have been doing it “right” for years and shine a spotlight on these key players. 

Several of Charlotte’s local restaurants have been featured on Fieri’s show and have gained national recognition for their dishes, overall atmosphere and historical imprint. Like Fieri, you too can meander through the streets of Flavortown without traveling far. 

Below are just five examples of where to visit if you want to dine like the triple-D master himself. (To see all featured Charlotte restaurants, visit the Food Network’s site).

[Related: Your guide to Charlotte’s diners, drive-ins and dives]

(1) Cabo Fish Taco

3201 N. Davidson St.

Photo by Jennings Cool<br>Mango Barbecue Mahi Mahi Tacos at Cabo Fish Taco

What to order: Mango Barbecue Mahi-Mahi Tacos

Cost: $12.75

Episode: Bringing It Home

Cabo Fish Taco brings the best of the West coast to the East coast. It is known for serving unique seafood dishes with Mexican ties and a Baja California feel.

Fieri checked out the flagship store in NoDa, where he tried the Mango Barbecue Mahi-Mahi Tacos. These flavor-packed tacos are filled with grilled mahi-mahi tossed in house-made mango barbeque sauce, layered with Cabo’s spin on coleslaw, tomato, avocado, mixed cheeses and topped with the house-made cilantro white sauce. 

[Related: Cabo Fish Taco opens second Charlotte location]

(2) Dish

1220 Thomas Ave.

What to order: Chicken and Dumplings

Cost: $9.29

Episode: Comfort Food Classics

Fieri couldn’t come to Charlotte without experiencing a little southern hospitality. Dish, a neighborhood-favorite located in the heart of Plaza Midwood, is a Southern comfort restaurant that feels a little like grandma’s house.

Fieri tried a bowl of Dish’s signature Chicken and Dumplings, which is prepared using a homemade recipe (including homemade chicken stock) and is paired with a classic side, flaky biscuit and a deviled egg. 

[Related: 13 of the best comfort foods in Charlotte, from Shepherd’s pie to chicken and dumplings]

(3) JJ’s Red Hots

1514 East Blvd.

What to Order: The Kasekreiner

Cost: $6.49

Episode: Swiss, Sandwiches and Hotdogs

Fieri paid a visit to Jonathon Luther, owner of JJ’s Red Hots, to see what the hype over his hot dog and sausage shack was all about.

Fieri stuffed his face with the Kasekreiner: an Austrian beef and pork sausage made from scratch and stuffed with emmentaler cheese (a type of Swiss cheese), placed between a potato roll, smothered with sauerkraut and pickled onion and drizzled with a homemade horseradish mustard.  A heaping pile of JJ’s onion rings also made the cut.

[Related: Guy Fieri and ‘Diners, Drive-ins and Dives’ came to JJ’s Red Hots this week]

(4) Mert’s Heart and Soul

214 N. College St.

What to order: Soul Roll

Cost: $7.25

Episode: A Bowlful of Soul 

Back in 2015, Fieri stopped by Mert’s Heart and Soul, a local favorite that brings home-cooking, southern-style entrees and a little kick of soul all under one roof.

Owner James Bazzelle introduced Fieri to one of Mert’s most popular menu items: the Soul Roll. The Soul Roll puts a unique and soulful spin on the classic egg roll — it is filled with black-eyed peas, abodo-flavored collard greens, seasoned rice and fried chicken. Here’s a pro-tip: No matter what you order at Mert’s, make sure to ask for a side of its famous cornbread. You will not regret it. 

[Related: 5 restaurants to explore for Black History Month]

(5) Pinky’s Westside Grill

1600 W. Morehead St.  

Photo by Jennings Cool<br>The Asian Pork Burger

What to order: Asian Pork Burger

Cost: $6.75 for a single and $9.25 for a double

Episode: Racing Through Charlotte 

Volkswagen auto shop-turned-burger shop Pinky’s Westside Grill has been flipping burgers and dropping food into the fryer since 2010. Chef Greg Auten, the previous chef at The Penguin Drive-In before it closed its doors, transformed the old car garage into a novel burger joint.

Fieri and NASCAR driver Clint Bowyer’s visit to Pinky’s consisted of eating the infamous Triple G-Westside Burger, three 5-ounce patties piled high with mustard, chili, slaw, onion and cheese; the Corn Dog Shrimp, shrimp dipped in corn dog batter and deep fried; and the Asian Pork Burger, a ground pork patty topped with Korean barbeque sauce and cilantro-honey coleslaw. If you are searching for the full Fieri dining experience, order the menu items marked with a tiny pink star on Pinky’s menu. 

[Related: The (almost) definitive list of 18 places to get fried pickles in Charlotte]