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South 21 Charlotte NC Drive In Restaurant since 1955 Charlotte, NC

Posted on: October 19, 2009

If you’re like me, a sign like the one at South 21 in Charlotte NC  will make you change all sorts of plans when you see it- even if you’re speeding down the highway towards another destination:


We were en route from one side of Charlotte NC to the other when I saw this sign coming up on the side of the road. We couldn’t pull to the right in time to get into the parking lot on the first try, but it was worth it to do the cloverleaf move so we could check out the South 21 Drive In on E. Independence Blvd. As you can see it’s been luring drivers off the busy road since 1955, and you can add us to  the list.

South 21 Curb Service

Even though we had just eaten our fill (and then some) at Price’s Chicken Coop not a few hours earlier, we knew we had to pull into a parking space stall and order something from the squawk box attached to the menu.

Following the suggestion of the big sign near the road – and the sign above the stalls – and the big ad in the middle of the menu – we got a famous Super Boy burger (to split) – two beef patties, mustard, onions, lettuce, tomatoes and french fries. Ketchup, as you can see- is by request. Delivered by  a friendly gent in a red shirt and black hat, we somehow managed to polish off our tasty burger with little complaint.


Super Boy (trademark #72,797) and the famous “Charlotte toothpickle” (I am applying for the TM on that!)

If we had read the menu a bit closer we would’ve known to order their famous onion rings, that have inspired more than one fan to sing their praises of golden crunchety goodness. I give you this passage from the South 21 website:

Sweet, crunchy, golden brown, circle-shaped slices of bliss. Oh, South 21’s onion rings.They are my love, my life, my soul. For God so loved the South 21’s onion rings that he gave his only begotten South 21’s onion rings, so that whosoever believes in them shall not perish, but have eternal South 21’s onion rings. Ketchup, if it had a voice, would thank you for dipping South 21’s onion rings into it – Travis Oates, Matthews Union Power

Family owned and operated since 1955, there are a couple of other South 21’s in the area, but this is the only one with the car hop / curb service and great vintage signage. Fried chicken seems to be a special on Fridays.

South 21 Billboards

And if we were to go there again (which we will when we’re back in the area, for sure) I definitely want to try the trout. Kitschily named the “Fish-O-Burger” it is another local fave.

South 21 Speckled Trout

John W. Lennon so aptly noticed that “life is what happens when you make other plans” and while we didn’t plan on stopping at the South 21, it is a welcomed addition to the North Carolina Retro Roadmap!

(wacky hours- be warned!)

South 21 Drive In on Urbanspoon