The Penguin Drive-In

(704) 375-6959

1921 Commonwealth Ave, Charlotte, NC | Directions   28205

35.218899 -80.812371

Open Hours

Mon-Sat 11am - 2am

Sunday Noon - 2am

Food til 1am

Bar til 2am

Restaurants, Bars & Pubs, Cheap Eats  more

More Tags: Dine At The Bar, Bar Scene, People Watching, Lunch Spot, Local Favorite, Late Night Dining

Cuisine: Traditional American, Vegetarian, Hamburgers, Hot Dogs

Payment Methods: MasterCard, Discover, Visa, American Express

Neighborhoods: Commonwealth

Owner verified business
The Penguin Drive-In
The Penguin Drive-In
The Penguin Drive-In
The Penguin Drive-In

From The Owners of The Penguin Drive-In

Charlotte's Restaurant voted #1 Hamburger in the nation by Gourmet Magazine! Please call for to go orders.

Famous Penguin Fried Pickles, Lucky 7 Chicken Wings, Chili Cheese Fries, Onion Rings, Chicken Tenders Basket, Mac N Cheese Bites, Grilled Chicken Salad, Warm Bacon and Spinach Salad w/chicken, Greek Salad, House Salad... more

Special Offers

  1. Print Offer

    Live Music On Weekends!

    Provided by CityGrid

    Come on down to The Penguin for Live Music every Weekend!

Reviews for The Penguin Drive-In

Doesn't Recommend
over a year ago

Penguin 1st Impression...Not So Good! – I was excited to try The Penguin Drive-In with my 4 year old son yesterday, although after our visit I was totally dissatisfied with our food and service. My son had chicken tenders that had no type of seasoning what-so-ever, I'm surprised he even ate them. I ordered a hotdog and the chili and slaw were both bland as well. My money was definitely wasted. Honestly, I expected something totally different especially from what I've heard and of course the reputation from the Food Network show. Our server was not in tune with us at all. Maybe we just visited on an off day, however there is no such thing when running a restuarant. After discussin our visit with others, I learned The Diamond is the place to go! They'll be next on our list.

Doesn't Recommend
over a year ago

Not worth the price and RUDE TAKEOUT service – Warning for take-out!

You do not get a drink at all with the combo.

Over 17 dollars for a grilled cheese and some salsa and a chicken sandwich with reg fries. No salt, no pepper and not Ketchup was available. The grilled cheese was unique but I only ordered the combo for a drink.

We won't be going back and if you do, pay extra for your drink.

Maybe a new owner can keep people happy. I'd have fought for these guys but don't take it out own your customers.

I could have made the food at home and had drinks that were better. For the amount of money at least give a person a small sip of water.

Doesn't Recommend
over a year ago

new mgt. – The people who used to manage and run The Penguin no longer run it. In October they opened a new restaurant called The Diamond a block away from The Penguin, along with the former staff. They are a lot friendlier and they're the ones that were on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. Well worth it to go there- the "new" Penguin doesn't compare!

over a year ago

enjoyed – I liked it

Doesn't Recommend
over a year ago

Disappointing Experince. Okay Food. – Well, I wrote a long detailed review but it didn't go through due to HTML error so I'm just going to list the pro's and cons.

My boyfriend and I are visiting Charlotte, NC from Panama City, FL.


-Famous Fried Pickles were delicious

-Sweet Potato fries good

-FREE pickles received for joining text club off website

-20% entire bill for military

-Cool ideas and decorations


-Burgers are just burgers, nothing special. (I work at Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, so I sort of know what's good.)

-Servers attitude suck

-Didn't receive a souvenir cup with our meal (which is the only reason we got the meal since we were drinking water anyways.)

-Manager didn't seem to want to give us the military discount

Overall, we were disappointed. The restaurant seemed really cool and the website is what sold us.

Doesn't Recommend
over a year ago

Not so good food,not so good service – Have been there before and the food and service were excellent and it was crazy busy.Went in today maybe ten people in the place we order the fried pickles,another couple came in after us and they got there fried pickles before we did, so we say to each other I think those were our pickles..(a girl waited on all the tables but a guy brought out the food) and of course he brought them our lunch also, the woman tried to tell him that is was not what they ordered but he was gone,needless to say the waitress goes to there table picks up the food and proceeds to bring it to our table!! NO NO NO,I told her I wouldn't be eating that so she said she would put our order in again and said she was sorry, I think they took the food back to the kitchen and put it under the warmer for a few mins. and brought it back to us, the berger wasn't very warm and my husbands onion rings were cold. Too bad we thought we had a special place to eat and were recommending it after our first eat,now I'll let everyone know NOT TO BOTHER!!!

Doesn't Recommend
over a year ago

Good Food, lousy service – Well, a co-worker of mine and myself had to try the famous Penguin Drive In. We waited for about 10 mins when we got there @ lunch ( they were not busy @ all ). A guy finally came over and apologized for the wait and got our food order out rather quickly.

While the food was ok, the overall atmosphere and attituted that you come away with will not warrant any follow-up visits. I think that you must be dressed and act in a certain way to get the waitress' attention or for them to give a damn.

A father and son came in there and was treated the same way. Took about 10 mins or so before the waitress even came to their table.

I will not be going back and I am letting everyone else know the same thing.

Doesn't Recommend
over a year ago

Don't Bother! Waste of time and money. – I should have know something was wrong. A Saturday night and the Penguin was empty!

If you had experienced the Old Penguin then you will know what I'm talking about. Great food, cool menu, great atmosphere, and big, BIG, burgers!

Now, save your money and go to McDonald's. Better food, prices and portions. How can you take a completely fantastic place and COMPLETELY screw it up? Don't know but they did it.

So long old friend! I'm looking for a new burger home in Charlotte.

over a year ago

Give the Penguin and all the chatter a break. – Ok enough already. The Penguin is not the same, just like when Jimmy and Brian took it over from the Ballentine family in 99. Its a burger joint. It cant possibly live up to the hype that some people set for it. Jimmy and Brian took a successful joint and made it a star. When I came to Charlotte, It was the first place I went to, and fell in love, like so many others. The Penguin has been around since 1954, and through the years has many different incarnations. And now, another is upon us. Let the folks there have some room, to find a groove and get on track. It won't be the same, just like the Diamond is not like the "old" Penguin. Salmon? So we all have to grow up sometime, and looks like by the menu at the Penguin and the new Diamond, the respective owners are doing just that. Now will the rest of you? It's just great the Plaza Midwood has some of the coolest places in town, so support all of them, and love em for what they are.

Doesn't Recommend
over a year ago

one star because i couldn't pick ZERO – Don't waste your time here. These people are money hungry. The Diamond is where it's at!

The Penguin died.

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Cheap Eats (2007)
Cheap Eats (2006)
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