Drive away from “Uncle Fatty’s Drive-In”

I’m a sucker for a good burger. It’s been our mission since we’ve moved to Raleigh to find the best burger in town and we’ve made some pretty good discoveries (Char-Grill, Mojoe’s) and still have a lot to try (the burger at Porter’s is supposed to be legendary). So, imagine my happiness when we heard that a new burger joint, Uncle Fatty’s Drive-in (Woodburn Road, Cameron Village). Cameron Village has always been a little boring when it comes to food for me, how many “upscale” bar and grills can one place have? I think they’re trying to revitalize its culinary side, a few new restaurants have popped up. But it was Uncle Fatty’s that really picqued my interest. I mean, with a name like that, who could resist…right?

Walking in, I didn’t quite get what was going on. They’re obviously trying to go for a retro soda shoppe vibe, but its comes off very antiseptic-feeling. Everything was pristine, white and grey, and glossy, a little too glossy. I was scared to smudge the counter Tony and I sat at.  I’m not a big authenticity proponent, but it felt like sitting at someone’s modern, calculated idea of a diner, not a real place you’d want to hang out.

At least there’s burgers, although the menu was pretty unimaginative. Just your basic classics; hamburger, cheeseburger, bacon burger. It was a little disappointing, especially at the prices, which are very Cameron Village-ish considering that you’re just getting a burger and fries. What did catch my eye was “The Billy Goat;” a half-pound patty, bacon, onions, cheese, slaw, and chili. How could I say no? The special was The Billy Goat, fries, and an Orangeade, which is also something I can’t walk away from. It’s not an exaggeration to say that my hopes were high.

Sadly, I was going to be walking away disappointed. The food came out quickly, which was nice, but I noticed it came out a little too quick, like maybe it wasn’t as fresh as I’d hope. Oh well, as long as it’s tasty, right? Nope. Not at all. I was shocked, I was hoping there’d be some smokiness from the bacon, spiciness from the chili, and maybe a little crisp bite from the slaw. Instead, there wasn’t any distinct flavor, the different ingredients just mushed together into a sloppy and bland mouthful. Not a single topping stood out; the chili overpowered everything, the burger was cooked to death, and it was hard to make out the taste of slaw.

I switched to fries, but faced another disappointment; shoestring fries that tasted like they came out of the freezer. I tried to find some comfort in my orangeade, but since they don’t mix the orangeade fresh for you, I got a big swig of sugar water with an afterthought of orange. Tony’s orangeade had a better mix of fresh orange taste when the waitress poured it for him, but we agreed that making orangeade fresh then letting it sit made it a crapshoot when it came to ordering. Who knows who will get the good glass?

I know I’m coming off a little harsh, but I think what was most off-putting was that Uncle Fatty’s doesn’t know what it wants to be; it wants to be a classic diner, but its veneer is a little too slick. You can charge higher prices for burgers, but make sure they’re actually tasty. Judging from the empty seating, I don’t think people in Cameron Village know what to think about Uncle Fatty’s either.


12 responses to “Drive away from “Uncle Fatty’s Drive-In”

  1. You wouldn’t think it would be hard to get a good burger but I’m tellin’ ya it really is. To me if you’re going to bother then make it the best. It doesn’t have to be gourmet but how hard can it be to make an amazing bacon cheeseburger? Apparently quite difficult.

    • rdugonnaeatthat

      I think burgers are underestimated, so many people think of greasy patties, but some of the best meals I eaten have been a simple burger and fries.

  2. Raligh Times won some sort of an award for their burger, but I haven’t tried it yet. I’ve seen so many mixed reviews on Uncle Fatty’s on Urbanspoon it’s good to hear the real deal from a fellow blogger I trust. 🙂 It’s a shame it was not great, as I do like Flying Biscuit which has the same owners I hear as Uncle Fatty’s. Have you been to Fat Daddy’s farther north on Glenwood? It’s another I want to try.

    • rdugonnaeatthat

      I haven’t really been disappointed yet by Raleigh Times, so I don’t doubt that they’d have an awesome burger. They do have a Flying Biscuit cafe next door to the Uncle Fattie’s, but it had the Sunday brunch crowd storming it. We trust your picks too, so we’ll have to try that out 🙂

  3. I am a huge fan for a good burger and fries…Thanks for the info.

  4. This place has the worst food i ever attemped to eat. I ordered a simple BLT and fries which took way to long to get and the fries were cold hard and nasty. The bacon less sandwich , I kid you not, had one piece of bacon and again was not worth eating. I would not ever recomend you ever go there. When they asked me how the food was and i told them it sucked you he looked at me like i was crazy, but its the truth. Then he wanted to give me a free gift card LOL why would i ever eat there again i told him.

  5. Player’s Retreat has great burgers- they grind the meat in-house, and you can actually taste it. They also make homemade potato chips that are always crispy- I dip them in their homemade blue cheese dressing. It’s simple, but cheap and delicious.

    • rdugonnaeatthat

      We go by Player’s retreat a lot, so I don’t know why we haven’t been there yet. Tony and I will have to grab a burger there some time.


  6. if you’re looking a good burger in the raleigh area: try char-grill, barry’s cafe off tryon in cary, bin54 in chapel hill, & 18 seaboard in raleigh has a nice smokey burger

  7. I went to Uncle Fatty’s and thought it was wonderful. I go there whenever I am given the opportunity. You are being way to harsh in my opinion. I have recomended this place to many people and they went and loved it too. Maybe you just need to give it another chance. By the way, they made my orangeade fresh.

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