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

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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.

Menu
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

Recommends
5.0
over a year ago

-The Real Story- Part 2 – So the suited lawyers got involved and everyone got their panties in a twist. At first the Ballentine family was open to involving Jimmy and Brian and their staff in the expansion of The Penguin since they always had a great relationship and trusted these men with their family business. But several months of dead end negotiations and turmoil ensued until the two managers branched off completely to a new restaurant across the street- The Diamond.

Jim had passed before the split and his elderly wife did not have the strength to deal with all of the commotion and nearly gave up the business. If is wasn't for Lisa, the youngest of the 5 Ballentine daughters who took on the responsibilities of running a restaurant along with her current career, the family business would have been lost. now co-owns it with Martin (the man who originally set out to franchise) and will be opening more Penguin's within the next year.

Some people love The Penguin and always will. Others prefer to scoff at all the differences between the "New" and "Old" Penguin because they like gossip and debate. But if these people bothered to look around, they'd notice that all the black and whites on the walls are photographs of the Original owners, staff, and customers. News articles from when they first opened. Essentially a tribute that Lisa and her family have to their late father for the epic footprint he and his wife Jean made on Charlotte and all its locals.

Lisa is the sweetest person I have ever worked for. She listens to her staff and writes down our feedback constantly improving in every way she can. This woman is in the restaurant almost every day because it is important to her that The Penguin lives on. That her staff knows she is here for us and that her customers are happy.

She is so resilient but far to classy to try and battle the media's ridiculous accusations. She knows who she is, what her cause is, and is ready to get back to basics and focus on what is important. Not to get swept up in a he said/ she said game. If people want to be hateful, they can go somewhere else... But really guys - Its a burger, just put it in your mouth and eat it.

That’s my piece-- I wrote this because I have a strong fondness for this restaurant and being a server here. If you have any questions feel free to ask your server but please be kind and have an open mind.

A special thanks to the people who support us and also those who give constructive criticism. It's a pleasure serving you guys!

Long live The Penguin!

Doesn't Recommend
1.0
over a year ago

Not good – Just another lame franchise; Good thing they placed on a trademark on those fried pickles to prevent anyone from trying to replicate a horrible product. Ask Guy to do a follow up Food Network piece to help people stay away. Apologies, can not rate with zero stars.

Doesn't Recommend
1.0
over a year ago

Bad Food, Franchise Atmosphere, Small portions – This was sad. I broke down and tried it.

The service was slow. The pickles were crunchy on the inside. They're not supposed to be crunchy on the inside.

The burger bun tasted stale.

The pickle portion was small. The burger looked smaller too. The other patrons looked like they had been pulled out of TGI Friday's or some low-rent country club.

My friend could not eat her fries. How do you mess up fries?

I never used to be able to get in and get a table. Now I don't want to.

What people said would happen to the Penguin did happen, only worse.

Doesn't Recommend
2.0
over a year ago

Lackluster service and okay food – I went last week with a friend to check out The Penguin and see how it compared to the old Penguin with the new changes... I have to say that it looks the same for the most part, but the energy of the place was definitely not the same at all.

I was extremely disappointed with the service. The place was about 30% full, and we waited 15 minutes before the waiter came took our drink order. Also, they kept the back door open and that created a draft that made our friend and I shiver, even though we were wearing our coats... Not fun!!

The beers are more expensive, and the burgers are alright. The fried pickles were up to par but we didn't get very much for a half order, and since we did not order any other sides, it didn't last very long between two people.

IN SUMMARY: It does have a franchise vibe to it which makes it lose it's old Penguin charm. The food is alright and the service has a LOT of room to improve. As of now I will definitely not consider this restaurant as a top choice place to go like I used to.

Recommends
5.0
over a year ago

Back and better than ever – My wife and I went to the Penguin last week and the food was amazing.The Staff was great and went out of thier way to make sure everything was perfect.I'm not really sure what this new/old Penquin thing is about nor do I really care.The food and service was great and I most certainly will be back.

Doesn't Recommend
1.0
over a year ago

don't bother - hit the Diamond instead – The 'New' Penguin that re-opened Jan, 2010 is NOT the Penguin mentioned in previous reviews. The owners who turned the place from a derelict bar/shooting gallery into a hip, successful neighborhood cornerstone were forced out, and the building's owner has joined with a franchiser to create a chain from the brand they didn't create. The menu, staff, jukebox, and over-all ambiance (which is what ultimately made it successful) have all been changed. Yes, 'Charlotte Chick,' the neighborhood could use your money - take it to The Diamond down the street. That's where the previous penguin owners have set up shop. It has Penguin favorites from old menu (and more), plus the old Penguin jukebox.

Doesn't Recommend
2.0
over a year ago

Had so nice food – Yeah the burgers were good and the fried pickles were the bomb. But the snobby attitude from the waitstaff when waiting on the tables are not going to be missed by me! Yep said it. I've gone there several times with friend, We got the same old smug "what ya want" .... ain't got the time for you attitude from those guys...won't be missed. The people who made the food, made the place.

Recommends
5.0
over a year ago

The Penguin Lives On...No matter what you read! – So TIRED of these people that DON'T live in our neighborhood trying to hurt our local business people. Greg Auten is the chef that created the Penguin menu that we love, and he is coming BACK to run the place. Jimmy and Brian are opening the Diamond up the street, and we need that place to do well also. We are trying to improve Plaza Midwood, you phony activists aren't helping us, stay away if you can't make the area better.

Recommends
5.0
over a year ago

October 24th is the LAST day of the REAL Penguin – For many years, the Penguin has served as one of Charlotte's few 'legends' in the restaurant business. Great burgers, fried pickles are a must, and without compare the best falafel I've ever eaten. Wash it all down with ice cold $2 PBR 24 oz cans and you cannot go wrong! The world's most eclectic jukebox and the incredible mix of sub-cultures (Goths, Bikers, Yuppies, Students, Professionals, Punks, Soccer Moms....) and there are few places ANYWHERE like it. Too bad they're getting run out but soulless greedy corporate blood-sucking vampires.

(Google 'Penguin Drive In Charlotte closing for more scoop on this)

I'm sure the food will be great at the new location, and hopefully they'll be able to recreate the fantastic atmosphere as well. I suggest that anyone who cares about this Charlotte landmark boycott the Penguin after Oct 24. It won't be 'THE' Penguin anyway.

Doesn't Recommend
1.0
over a year ago

Penguin - was great – Too bad they're going out of business. We'll miss you guys.. 10 years of work - owners Brian Rowe and Jimmy King had done a great job of building the best burger joint.. Sorry to see you guys go..

We'll see ya'll at your new place..

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