When Mattie’s Diner closed in 2015, Charlotte lost its spot for Drunken Onion Rings and Hot Ass Burgers. The chrome diner car sat across from The Music Factory, where concertgoers could satisfy their late-night pancake cravings and early risers could enjoy coffee at the counter and order something hot off the griddle. But the land was sold to make way for the AvidXchange office tower, and Mattie’s owner Matt King had to move the modular diner into storage.
King purchased the 1940s diner car in New Jersey in 2005 and transported it to Charlotte, where he and some buddies spent the next five years renovating it. He opened the diner in 2010, and the red leather booths, tabletop jukeboxes, and Mattie’s Mom’s Meatloaf made it a neighborhood favorite. King wanted to relocate, but zoning issues, construction delays, and COVID set him back.
In April, King finally reopened his namesake diner at The Plaza and Shamrock Drive, on the site of a closed Tire Depot. The new location includes the classic diner car with counter seating and booths, expanded seating in the old tire shop and garage, and a patio. King brought back most of the original menu and added vegan options. You’ll also find Summit Coffee and a rotation of local, homemade desserts. The days of staying open 24 hours are over, but you can still get your fix from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week.
The breakfast menu has all the essentials: omelets, grits, and stacks of pancakes. Highlights include the B-52 Omelet ($12), with ham, peppers, onions, and cheddar, and the Junkyard Breakfast Bowl ($13), with chili, sausage, two eggs, cheddar, onion, and salsa. New additions like the Vegan Breakfast Quesadilla ($11) and the Vegan Breakfast Sandwich ($10) come with vegan eggs, meat, and cheese. If you’re in the mood for something sweet, get the Hunka Hunka Burnin’ Toast ($12), a plate of challah French toast topped with peanut butter, grilled bananas, and powdered sugar.
When you’re in need of savory bar snacks, get the Fried Mozzarella ($8) or Gigantor’s Disco Fries ($9), topped with mozzarella and gravy. The Vegan Disco Fries ($9) are marginally lighter with vegan cheese and gravy. The fountain drinks lean healthier, too—now you can get Smart Soda infused with vitamins.
If you can’t decide which of the 13 burgers to order, just pick the one with your favorite name. The Hot Ass Burger ($13) is topped with bacon, cheddar, Mattie’s Mayhem Sauce, jalapeños, and grilled onions. The Beat Up Burger ($13) has bacon, blue cheese crumbles, and blackening seasoning. Each one comes with your choice of a side—and nobody would fault you for choosing the Green Beans or a Side Salad—but you might as well go all in and get the Mac and Cheese or Sweet Potato Fries. This isn’t the time to count calories.
Entrées include stick-to-your-ribs dishes like Rigatoni and Meatball ($14), a heap of rigatoni pasta, meatballs, marinara, and ricotta cheese. The vegan version comes with “meatlessballs” and vegan ricotta. Chicken Fried Chicken ($14) is as excessive as it sounds: double-battered fried chicken smothered in gravy and served with two sides. Mattie’s Mom’s Meatloaf ($13) is still a classic, stuffed with mozzarella and marinara and topped with grilled onions.
If you have little ones in tow, see the kiddos menu, which includes standbys like Mac and Cheese ($6), Chicken Tenders ($7), and a Hot Dog ($6). And if you save room for dessert—bravo if you do—milkshakes come in a variety of flavors like chocolate, strawberry, and cookies and cream. (Substitute vegan “nice cream” and oat milk for $1 more.) You might also be tempted by the daily rotation of cakes and pies displayed on the counter.
Tasting menus and creative cocktails will always have a place in Charlotte, but let’s be honest. Even the most cultivated palates cave to a greasy spoon at some point. Who among us hasn’t been hit with a craving for blueberry pancakes, steak and eggs, or a plate of loaded fries? The next time it happens, you know where to go.
TAYLOR BOWLER is the lifestyle editor.