Name: Cook Out
Address: 10645 Park Rd, Charlotte, NC 28210
Order: Cookout tray with barbecue sandwich, tray pups, tray nus, and sweet tea (link to menu)
Monk: I was first introduce to Cook Out, a Greensboro-based fast food burgers and milkshakes chain, way back in 1993 when our family moved from Fayetteville, NC to High Point. Those milkshakes were legendary and any time I had them it was a big, big deal.
Then, I was introduced to Cook Out in a whole new light back in my college days in the early 2000’s, where the Western Blvd location was a favorite post-bar, late night destination. Not only did it stay open way past the bars (until 5am on the weekends) but the food was ridiculously cheap ($3.99 for a Cook Out Tray at the time). To say that it did the trick on many a late night my last couple of semesters would be an understatement, and I have the photos to prove it.
I mentioned the price – while it was $3.99 for a Cook Out Tray in the early 2000s, it will now run you $5.25. With it, you pick from about 10 main items including burgers, chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, and even a barbecue sandwich. Then, you got to pick two sides – and in addition to the usual fries or onion rings, things like corn dogs, chicken nuggets, and quesadillas are considered sides. Top it off with a huge 32 oz sweet tea (or sub it out for one of their 40+awesome milk shakes) and you felt like you were stealing for the amount of food you were getting for around $5. To read more on the wonders of the Cook Out Tray, check out this Drew Magary piece in Deadspin from his visit to one in Durham in 2012. He does more justice to it than I ever could.
The Cook Out in Raleigh had a few picnic tables but is really more of a drive through or takeout place. While that is the predominant layout of most Cook Outs I’ve encountered, you will occasionally find those with an actual sit down restaurant with an order counter inside such as this one in south Charlotte near Pineville.
I knew what I was getting when I opted to review the barbecue sandwich here. It was not going to blow my socks off, but it did end up being a serviceable version of an eastern NC barbecue sandwich. It comes already topped with a mayo slaw and hot sauce and is surprisingly spicy. You don’t get really any smoke in the pork but it will definitely satisfy in a pinch.
I got my usual side order – hush puppies and chicken nuggets (or “tray pups and tray nugs” in Cook Out employee parlance) – and though they are clearly from frozen, again they will do in a pinch.
Which brings us to the point of Cook Out. It’s fast and cheap food that you shouldn’t think (or perhaps write in my case) too much about. Though when it comes to their barbecue, get it if you must but my recommendation would be instead of that, get one of their crazy good burgers (my recommendation would be Cheddar Style) and a shake. You’ll thank me later.
(For more thoughts on Cook Out, check out one of the chapters at Marie, Let’s Eat! here or here)
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 2 hogs
Pork – 2.5 hogs
Sides – 2.5 hogs
Overall – 2.5 hogs