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Today’s Taste of Carolina post is about Cook Out and the delicious summertime favorites you can get when visiting or driving through the Tar Heel State.
As the years go by I find that I’m drawn to fast-food restaurants less and less. Of course, that’s a good thing since it really isn’t good for you at all. It’s not just the nutritional values that keep me away, though. The food quality isn’t consistent or really the same as it was and doesn’t taste all that good. If it doesn’t taste good then what’s the point of the splurge?
I do have a shortlist of fast food joints that I’ll hit up every now and then especially if I’ve got a hankering for burgers and fries. At the top of the list is an establishment that is Carolina-born and takes pride in serving up fresh, made-from-scratch, cooked-outdoors-style food and its name is Cook Out.
The first time I ever had Cook Out was almost nine years ago in Raleigh. We were making our big move from South Florida to North Carolina and Derek was job hunting. They contacted him for an interview and Derek came back quite impressed with the company especially the emphasis they put on the quality of their food. After that, we had to give it a try and it definitely puts the old golden arches to shame.
It quickly became one of our favorite places to grab a burger. My parents have also become fans of Cook Out ever since we introduced them to it several years ago and they have to have a meal there at least once during every North Carolina visit. You’ll know why soon but first let me give you a little history about this Carolina-born restaurant.
The first Cook Out opened just over thirty years ago in 1989 in nearby Greensboro. Focusing on cooked-outdoors-style food, patrons are able to enjoy their summertime favorites year-round from burgers and hot dogs to grilled chicken and barbecue sandwiches. Over the years, Cook Out has gradually grown by adding locations all over the Tar Heel State. It has just been within the last ten years that they’ve expanded into out-of-state markets with the first in South Carolina in 2010. Since then they’ve added locations in Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Maryland, West Virginia, Alabama, and Mississippi. They have certainly been busy this past decade!
Now let’s talk about their delicious menu! The burgers, hot dogs, and chicken sandwiches are made-to-order. It’s your decision and you can build-your-own or go with one of their suggested “styles”. Choose “Cook Out Style” when you want your sandwich topped with chili, slaw, onions, and mustard. This is really Carolina-Style and I love it on my hot dogs! There are other styles, too, like “Steak Style” where you get your burger topped with A-1 Sauce, grilled onions, lettuce, tomato, and mayo.
If you’re a fan of chicken tenders they have those, too! Just make sure to get a side of Cook Out sauce to go with them! Cook Out also offers a large variety of sides. You can go with a standard like French fries or onion rings or try something different like a corn dog or bacon wrap (Derek’s favorite).
If you really want to splurge then make sure to save room for one of their incredible shakes! They offer over forty flavors of shakes that are all prepared by hand. Some flavors are seasonal like egg nog in December and watermelon in the summer. If you love fruit-flavored shakes then you will be happy to know that they use fresh fruit, too. Chocolate Cherry is quite good even though I typically lean towards double chocolate or peanut butter fudge when I’m in a milkshake mood.
As if the quality and taste of the food aren’t enough of a reason to head to Cook Out, the prices are also very reasonable! You’ll be amazed at how much food you can get at a low price. They do charge extra for toppings like bacon and cheese but it’s not much. The real bargain is their trays. For five dollars and change, you can get a sandwich, two sides, and a soda, tea, or float. For an additional dollar, you can upgrade your drink to a shake.
I had a delicious Carolina meal during our last visit, Cook Out Style hot dogs and a Cheerwine float, so yummy! I also enjoyed my usual sides of French fries and slaw. Their trays are customizable to suit any food mood you’re in!
So, you may be wondering that if we love Cook Out so much, why didn’t my husband take a job with them? It’s actually quite simple. He received multiple offers and took the best one and it wasn’t Cook Out which is actually a good thing. I do not like the idea of having regular access to one of my favorite burger spots. I’d be too tempted to have Derek bring dinner home from there way too often! I prefer it when he works at a place with some healthier options on their menu and includes salads at the very least.
So the next time you’re traveling through the south, North Carolina in particular, keep your eyes peeled for Cook Out. You’ll have a quick, delicious and a bit indulgent meal at a great price plus you’ll be enjoying a Taste of Carolina!
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