• Charlie Leonard

23 Cult Favorite Restaurants in Gaston County Worth Showing Up Early For

Gaston County is no stranger to new businesses. With spots like The Wandering Cup opening in A Little Bit of Art Studio and Sammy’s Pub opening a second location in Dallas, businesses gain a dedicated following — and fast. It’s no secret that growth and expansion is on the horizon. And in the midst of these openings, many current breakfast and lunch spots have already become county mainstays — with a cult following.

Will's Doggn' It Deli and Dogs - Chris Rodarte, Gaston Outside

You can see it now; whether it's been open for generations or just adding to the mix. It can be the talk of the town and still feel like a well-kept secret, a committed crowd singing their praises at every turn. You’re comforted not only by the too-good-to-be-true dishes but in knowing, thanks to the support of its followers, that it’s here to stay.

From burgers and fries to classic North Carolina style BBQ, fried fish and chicken, even to breakfast, Gaston County’s cult classics are more than just an occasional treat; they’re your required insider eating.

Black's Grill

Burger and Fries at Black's Grill - Photo Courtesy of Matthew Tessnear

1915 Lincolnton Hwy., Cherryville

Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Friday 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Saturday 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

Gaston County has a multitude of quality burger spots, and one of the originals is Black’s Grill, just outside of Cherryville off NC-150. Open since 1947 — making them one of the oldest restaurants in Gaston County — this tiny roadside restaurant has had plenty of practice serving burgers, fries, and fried bologna sandwiches to their grateful customers. When you go to Black’s, don’t forget to bring cash and get there early.

Insider Eats: Order a Lotta Burger Basket — slaw, tomato, and pickles — and experience a Cherryville staple that’s become essential- $4.60

Blackwood’s Drive-In

Burger with chili, cheese, slaw and tomato - Photo Courtesy of Arthur Warlick

201 York Rd., Kings Mountain

Monday-Saturday 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sunday 12 noon-8 p.m.

The drive-in is one of the most iconic cult classics and that’s exactly the case for Blackwood’s Drive-In. They’re a well-renowned Kings Mountain staple, serving up drive-in favorites like hot dogs and hamburgers (they've got their own Lottaburger style, too), but also cheesesteaks, country-style breakfast sandwiches (all day long), and Cherry-Lemon Sundrop — a Gaston County necessity. Drive on up to an open space, they’ll take it from there.

Insider Eats: Lottaburger basket with chili, slaw, onions, pickles and tomato- $6.75

BrightStar Grill

Bright Star Grill Burger - Chris Rodarte, Gaston Outside

205 Madora St., Mount Holly

Monday-Saturday 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

Another drive-in style classic is Mount Holly’s BrightStar Grill, an homage to retro eats. Since opening in 1998, BrightStar has risen to gain the acclaim of the locals, winning Best-Of burger awards and everyone’s hearts in the process. Take a seat and enjoy the classic rock hits playing on the restaurant speakers.

Insider Eats: Essential menu items are anything “Lotta'' style like the Lottaburger, which includes cheese, slaw, tomato and ketchup. While you’re there, get a side of cowboy pickles- $9.99 (burger), $3.99 (pickles)

Cherub’s Cafe

Cherub's Cafe Chicken Salad - Chris Rodarte, Gaston Outside

23 N. Main St., Belmont

Monday-Saturday 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m.

In conjunction with Holy Angels, Cherub's Cafe in Belmont offers meaningful employment to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Since opening in the late ‘90s, their mission has been widely adored by the community of Belmont, with their food (serving both breakfast and lunch) becoming part of that sentiment. It’s good food that serves a greater purpose; what more can you ask for?

Insider Eats: A popular item, the pecan chicken salad, can be found on the menu in a multitude of formats. We recommend the croissant- $7.29

Doffer’s Canteen

Doffer's Canteen Tacos - Chris Rodarte, Gaston Outside

119 Center St., Cramerton

Tuesday-Saturday 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Originally opened by a former manager at Pinky’s Westside Grill in Charlotte, Doffer’s Canteen is a rising star just on the corner in downtown Cramerton. The menu revolves around a trinity of classics: Tex-Mex (tacos, burritos, quesadillas), sandwiches and local craft beer. Grab a seat on their patio/beer garden adorned with a colorful train mural and beer tap fountains.

Insider Eats: A good place to start in the Tex-Mex world is the Mojo Chicken Taco or Panini. Looking for a sandwich? The Cuban or a Philly will do the trick- $7.90 (taco), $9.70 (panini), $9.40 (Cuban), $9.90 (Philly)

Pita Wheel