Here at NC Eat & Play, we are all about supporting local, delicious restaurants. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate a good drive through fast food meal every now and then. And it’s even better if its a fast food restaurant that was started in North Carolina. Luckily, we have some good options to choose from!
These are our highlights for North Carolina fast food chains that locals love! From buttery biscuits to world-famous doughnuts, North Carolina is a fast food haven.
I will always remember the first time I tried a Bojangles biscuit, and my life was changed forever. Bojangles started in Charlotte back in 1977 but has spread today to 14 states. It even has locations on the island of Roatan in Honduras.
Bojangles’ received fame in 1989 after Hurricane Hugo struck the coast. Bojangles restaurants continued serving cajun seasoned chicken and warm buttermilk biscuits when most other fast-food restaurants had closed.
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Bojangles seasoned fries are a delicacy in North Carolina. Their signature dessert, the BoBerry Biscuit, is a warm blueberry biscuit topped with icing and it will rock your world.
Hardees is an international brand that started in Rocky Mount, NC. In 1960, Wilber Hardee opened his personal restaurant in Greenville, NC. After seeing success, he expanded and opened the first company store in Rocky Mount.
While the Rocky Mount location was demolished in 2007, it is now a veteran’s park dedicated to a former Hardee’s chairman and veteran. I found it interesting to see the original 1964 menu. It includes a hamburger for 15 cents, cheeseburgers for 20 cents, french fries for 10 cents, apple turnovers for 15 cents, milk for 12 cents, coffee for 10 cents, soft drinks for 10 cents, and milkshakes for 20 cents.
Today, hardees is best known for their burgers and breakfast biscuits.
Krispy Kreme will always be my number one doughnuts brand. I think if I wasn’t careful, I could sit down and eat a whole dozen of the original glazed by myself.
The first Krispy Kreme opened back in 1937 in the historic Old Salem district of Winston-Salem. The owner began by selling to local grocery stores, but allowed customers to purchase hot doughnuts between midnight and 4 AM if they came into the shop. I definitely would have been one of those people buying donuts at 2 AM.
I can’t discuss North Carolina fast food without mentioning the iconic Cook Out. The trays are one of the best deals in fast food history, allowing you to make almost any menu item a side, including chicken nuggets and corndogs! My order is a double cheeseburger, chicken quesadilla, white cheddar cheese bites, and a Cheerwine. I get an Oreo milkshake if I’m feeling crazy.
The first location opened in Greensboro in 1989, with 50 additional locations added in North Carolina shortly thereafter. There are now over 290 restaurants in 10 states in the southeast. Cook Out is known for their inexpensive value trays, and over 40 flavors of milkshakes.
Smithfield’s Chicken ‘N Bar-B-Q
While there are many places you can get better barbecue, Smithfield’s is a convenient location that comes in handy when I need a fix.
The first location opened in downtown Smithfield in 1977, followed by a second location in Clayton. A third location came to Salter Path in 1979, and then Smithfield’s quickly spread across the eastern portion of the state in the 80’s.
By the 90’s Smithfield’s had reached the Triangle, which is where a young Harrison tried their barbecue sandwiches for the first time. While the franchise still remains solely in North Carolina, it is impressive how it has quickly spanned across the state.
Biscuitville was my Grandma’s favorite place to go for breakfast. Whenever I see their iconic rolling pin logo, I think of her.
While the first Biscuitville branded restaurant was in Virginia, we still like to claim it as our own. That is because the company started out as Mountainbrook Fresh Bread and Milk in Burlington, NC back in 1966. The store specialized in pizza, but started making biscuits for morning customers. The biscuits became so popular that they dropped the pizza, and Biscuitville was born.
The headquarters relocated to Greensboro in 2007, which is where it remains today. Biscuitville’s claim to fame is that their biscuits are made from scratch every 15 minutes.
Hopefully this article gives a little insight into the history and growth of some of your favorite fast food chains. Next time you head through a drive through, maybe it will be one of these North Carolina icons!