Casual Dining reviews

Church Street Cafe is home of the What-A-Burger, a tried-and-true tradition of fast casual dining in Greensboro. The menu is small and mighty, just like the building that houses the restaurant today.

It was formerly called Church Street Drive-Inn, and a few times too many, people took the “drive in” part too literal and crashed into the building on the corner of Church and Denny Road. After a couple of vehicular mishaps caused it to close to business for a year and a half, the cafe has come back and is better than it ever was.

Family owned and operated, this diminutive outfit has folks flocking here all afternoon and into early evening for casual food and conversation. Several generations of family members will take your order, start cooking it and offer up friendly conversation while you wait. The quaint space looks and feels like a neighborhood diner should: welcoming and congenial.

While the parking situation is a little tight, there’s plenty of room inside to reap all of the benefits of the good hospitality you are about to receive. The low-sitting bar stools at the front counter won’t prevent your knees from getting bruised as you attempt to spin around to face the dining room. A collection of tables and chairs are spread out in an orderly fashion. They all seem to face the lone television screen on the wall, which always has the local news or soap operas on display.

The What-A-Burger has been the signature sandwich of Church Street for 60 years. While it’s best held with two hands, it comes with lettuce, onion, tomato, pickle chips and mayonnaise, but it can be customized to satisfy your taste buds. Double patties, cheese, bacon, chili or coleslaw can be added to french fries, onion rings or hush puppies. While the french fries are crinkle-cut and the onion rings are more onion-flavored than real rings of onion, neither of those things detract from the friendly service and quality of food served. The burger patty itself is wide and thin and cooks up easily on the hot griddle right before your eyes. Hot dogs, bologna, bacon for the BLTs and grilled chicken all get the same treatment. The Chuck Wagon sandwich, a deep-fried breaded beef patty, topped with lettuce is a dark-horse favorite.

The fryer gets a workout when the lunch crowd hits. The tiny parking lot fills up quickly, and friendly customers wait patiently and know exactly what they want as they sit to dine or take it all to go.

All of the sandwiches are served a la carte, with a few exceptions. The sandwich plates and dinner plates come with fries and a side salad. The What-A-Burger, bacon cheeseburger and chicken tender plates are options. The hot dogs come “all the way” with mustard, chili, slaw and onions. There’s also a tuna salad and grilled chicken for those seeking light fare.

Even if you’ve never been to Church Street, you’ll feel like you’ve been here before because of the warm welcome and great service you receive.

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Casual Dining features local restaurants for diners on a budget. It appears the second and fourth Thursday of the month. Contact Nikki Miller-Ka at nicolettemiller.ka@gmail.com.

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