Appalachia Appalachia Through My Eyes

Appalachia Through My Eyes – Best Cheeseburger In Western NC

My life in appalachia best cheeseburgers in western nc

Do you like hamburgers? If so…do you prefer cheese or no cheese? Me I’m a cheeseburger kinda girl. If the burger doesn’t have cheese I’d just as soon not eat it. Crazy I know.

Na-Bers is a drive in hamburger joint in Bryson City NC. They have the best cheeseburgers e-v-e-r. Their vanilla milkshakes aren’t bad either.

The first time I ever ate at Na-Bers was with Granny and Pap. Back when there wasn’t a McDonalds, Wendys, or Burger King every 20 miles there were places like Na-Bers. Pap knew where all the little eating places were from his days of truck driving.

If we were headed to Canton to see family we would stop off in Bryson City to eat. I completely forgot about Na-Bers until I was a young adult. I was riding home with some folks after visiting a singing event and someone mentioned they were hungry and a short time later we pulled up to the speaker at Na-Bers. I immediately felt like I was 10 years old with Steve and Paul sitting beside me in the back of Pap’s big Impala-all of us thinking the restaurant was just like the one on Happy Days…well at least that’s what I was thinking I’m not really sure what Steve and Paul were thinking.

Parker’s Drugstore in Murphy NC has good cheeseburgers too. How about where you live-what’s the best burger joint?

Tipper

Appalachia Through My Eyes – A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.

You Might Also Like

30 Comments

  • Reply
    Bobby C
    March 4, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    Tipper,
    I’m getting in on this one a little late, but after readying this post, I will have to make a special road trip to Bryson City to try Na-Bers or catch it on my way to Pigeon Forge.
    When I was a kid, we had a place at home called Grace’s. The burgers were delicious. Next came a place called The Burger Queen. Cheeseburgers were delicious and you got tater tots instead of fries. And if you asked for your burger “all the way”, that meant ketchup, mustard, pickles, onions and slaw. I love my cheeseburgers with slaw. Don’t know if that is just a local thing here in N Georgia, but it’s pretty much the standard.
    And we still have the Dawsonville Pool Room where you can get a “Bully Buger”…named after the chef who could never remember how you ordered it, so they all came the same.
    Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

  • Reply
    TimMc
    February 27, 2014 at 5:35 am

    Well,if you head west of here in Moulton, Nesmith Hamburgers and if you head east Penn’s Hamburgers in Decatur, both are closely related on the taste, they are fried..Both establishments have been in business every since I can remember and I’m 51 years old. We called them easy greasies about one round a week is all you can stand but they are good… If your looking for a grilled Burger across the road from where I live, a placed called the Wagon Wheel Restaurant makes a pretty mean Cheese Burger…

  • Reply
    Susie Swanson
    February 26, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    Oh my goodness, I’m glad you posted this. I love Nabers. They have the best cheeseburger and any other stuff I’ve ever eat. We’ve stopped by that place so many times. Me and my husband used to stop by there when we first got married. We were traveling back to Fort Bragg most of the time and we just had have a burger before we left the mountains..lol. That’s been almost 44 years ago. Thanks so much.

  • Reply
    Tipper
    February 26, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    Glenda I bet you could find it! Na-bers isn’t too far off the beaten path and you could always gps it : )
    Tipper
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia
    http://www.blindpigandtheacorn.com

  • Reply
    Kathy
    February 26, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    Good Lord!! I hadn’t thought about that place in years and years. You are right. Their food was out of this world! I used to stop there with my first husband – us being from across the line in Monroe County (TN) and gas being like a quarter a gallon, riding the mountains was our way of having fun. Later on, after he & I had gone our separate ways and I had married again – this time to a guy to whom the mountains were a foreign experience, when we would visit the folks back in TN (and before all the super-highways linking east TN & the Piedmont of NC) I took him to Na-bers when we were out that way. Thanks for refreshing the memories.

  • Reply
    Quinn
    February 26, 2014 at 9:27 am

    There’s a little packie and grill about 12 miles from me, where I sometimes treat myself to a burger and fries. Call ahead, pick it up, park alongside the road where it overlooks a little pond, and have a picnic.
    By the way, have you heard the term “packie”? In MA, it’s short for “package store,” which is a liquor store. Don’t ask me why or when that got started, but I grew up thinking packie=liquor store. Quite a surprise when I first moved to the Southwest! Same as when I asked where I could find a good cobbler. (Someone recommended the local diner, but I asked because my boots needed resoling!)

  • Reply
    Charline
    February 25, 2014 at 10:42 pm

    Gosh, I think I’m ready for a burger road trip!

  • Reply
    Glenda Beall
    February 25, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    Tipper, you have made me want to go to Na-Bers in Bryson City. That town is off my beaten path, but I have to go and try that cheeseburger.
    Think I can find it?

  • Reply
    RB
    February 25, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    The best burger I ever had was long long ago at a diner/drive thru in Grandview, MO outside of KC named Arnold’s (yes it was, and long before Happy Days came along). What was so good about the burger was that the patty was fried up crispy on the outside before anything was ever even added to it, and that caramelization made it so rich and yummy. I liked it with or without cheese, with ketchup and a tiny bit of onion. And Arnold’s shakes and sundaes weren’t bad either.
    God bless.
    RB
    <><

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    February 25, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    The best hamburger or cheesburger we have ever eaten are made here at our house. We have tried a lot of different places, but they don’t measure up. Here in Brevard, we have Rocky’s and I have not tried one of their burgers, because I keep ordering their onion-chili hot dogs. The hot dogs are so good, that I can’t get past them to try a cheeseburger when I go there. The neat thing at Rocky’s is that when you finish eating and you need to settle up, you through a connecting doorway to the gift shop next door to pay for your food. The place next door? D. D. Bullwinkel’s! So for the folks with a few more hours on their clock, the name Rocky and Bullwinkle will sound very familiar. The younger folks may not know what I am talking about.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    February 25, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    Tipper,
    I’ve been to the Na-bors Drive in many times, both places. The newest one has the big parking lot, but I just love their Sliced Pork Barbeques with slaw and tomato. And I use to get a Small bottled Coke to go with mine. (you can’t get those little bity dopes just anywhere.) A black headed waitress girl, Betty Green use to sit with me and my girls if she wasn’t too busy. I’m already cravin’ another barbeque…Ken

  • Reply
    dolores
    February 25, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    It seems as if people look at the size of the hamburger before determining if it is good. We have a place near us in FL called Jim’s Place. The burger is juicy, good size and cooked perfectly. Cheese is an option. Years ago when I lived in NJ, White Castle was the thing to eat. Golly, I wonder how bad the cholesterol was?

  • Reply
    Tamela
    February 25, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    If you’re heading south into Texas on either IH 35 or Hwy 281 I have 3 great suggestions for you:
    From I 35 take exit 268 to Walburg and stop at Dale’s Essenhaus. Folks travel from all around for his hamburgers (especially “the Walburger”), onion rings, and fried dill pickles. Dale’s is also a great venue for country music on the weekends (sometimes there’s a charge to listen in the bier garten) – also a good chance you’ll hear some fine local musicians while you enjoy their juicy hamburgers.
    Another option in Walburg is the Walburg restaurant for good German and American food including hamburgers and a corned beef sandwich my N.J. Lithuanian heritage daughter-in-law proclaims to be one of the best. Their bier garten mostly features The Walburg boys who used to do mostly old German music but they now mix it up with Country and a variety of other music and guest bands. We used to enjoy watching some of the long time patrons in their lederhosen and old country dress as they danced to the music – such a treat.
    Although it boasts two restaurants and two Lutheran churches you do have to be alert – if you blink you might miss Walburg – only a few houses “in town”.
    On Hwy 281, look for Storm’s when you get into Burnet. They offer curb-side and dine-in in the 50’s style drive-in and in the last few years have opened one in Marble Falls (on FM 1431 just west of Hwy 281). Here you can find a mouthwatering hamburger and top it off with onion rings and malts that will send you back in time.

  • Reply
    Julie Hughes
    February 25, 2014 at 11:57 am

    Hinkles in Bloomington Indiana used to have a great cheese burger, hand smashed and tons of grilled onions!! They were great. I think they are still there.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    February 25, 2014 at 11:25 am

    Tipper,
    Don’t know exactly about a local
    hamburger joint, but one with a great burger, ’cause I haven’t eaten there in years.
    ….but I can tell you where the best B-O-L-O-N-G-A (cut frash, right there from the roll), a thick slice of Hoop Cheese (frash cut, right in front of you), Lettuce, Onion, Tomato, with Mayo, Mustard, salt and pepper on White Pullman Loaf Bread. I cap this “samwich” for emphasis on how good it is! It is still today, only $1.84, countin’ the tax.
    Come to think of it, I don’t think I will tell you where it is, for fear they will get flooded with folks, have to hire more than the local gal and go up on their prices! LOL
    I’ll give you a hint! It’s on Hwy 127 North between Crossville and York Institute, Muddy Pond turn off, and Jamestown!…Yep, York, the infamous American soldier! Muddy Pond, the infamous Mennonite sorgham makers, and Jamestown, home of the originated infamous 127 500 mile Yard Sale.
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS…Bob’s Burgers, would be the best local owned burger joint that has great burgers…
    I can’t count “McD’s”, “Sonic City”, “Har-dee Har Har’s”, “Showhonies” etc. LOL
    I still remember Charlies in Canton had a great burger! I guess it is long gone by now!

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    February 25, 2014 at 11:05 am

    It’s a far piece from Appalachia, but if you ever pass
    through Roswell, New Mexico, the supreme green chile cheeseburger is at Julie’s Place, 1704 S. Union. Julie isn’t as big as a minute, but she is a giant when it comes to grilling burgers!

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    February 25, 2014 at 10:50 am

    There is a place in Blue Ridge, Ga called Sue’s that has a good burger and one in Chatsworth, Ga called The Big V that has a good one too.
    It’s hard to find a really good burger around here. As far as chain stores I have always liked Steak & Shake with those little shoestring fries and a big vanilla shake. I am a cheeseburger kind of guy too.

  • Reply
    James Smithson
    February 25, 2014 at 10:04 am

    The best burger around in Burlington NC is at McCray’s store on Hyway 62N. It’s a mouthful to say the least!

  • Reply
    Annette Casada Hensley
    February 25, 2014 at 10:00 am

    Ah, the original Neighbors and the “new” Na-Bers have wonderful food and atmosphere. Miss the peacocks. Once I heard the peacocks, I knew where the jungle sounds used in the old Tarzan movies came from! Brother Don can do a really good imitation of their sound. One has to know that their food is great for them to have survived all these years competing with all the newer fast food chains! My favorite is their double cheeseburger but also love their chuckwagon steak sandwich!

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, PhD
    February 25, 2014 at 9:40 am

    Now remarks from JIM WIKE!
    Back when I played basketball for Cullowhee High School and making ‘road’ trips through the mountains competing with other ‘small’ schools we occasionally passed through Waynesville late at night. We were always hungry – as usual after a ball game. Our favorite stopping place was a drive-in resturant called Charlie’s Place out in the edge of town. Charlie’s had great hamburgers and especially hot dogs!
    When the owner, Charlie Woodard, would come outside to take our order – with a car of SIX starving players – he NEVER took any notes and delivered the food just like we had ordered! It was the most popular place for fast food as we knew it then IN HAYWOOD COUNTY! But that was a long time ago (44 to 48!)
    Jim Wike

  • Reply
    Charles Fletcher
    February 25, 2014 at 9:32 am

    Tipper,
    Every time we traveled back and forth on old i9-23
    We had to stop at that place. But not for a hamburger
    But for the best hotdog in the world. There was no passing by coming or going. Don’t know if it is still there because-we By –pass it on the new roads.
    Charles Fletcher

  • Reply
    Pamela Moore
    February 25, 2014 at 9:26 am

    Ted Peter’s Smoked Fish in South Pasadena, Florida has the best hamburgers (and fish). With a side of their German potato salad…Heaven!

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, PhD
    February 25, 2014 at 8:58 am

    Well Tipper, being from Clay County must have left me shy on hamburger experiences! But I will just have to vote on the VARSITY down in Atlanta. That is where Jim and I went on our very first date. AND THE HAMBURGER WAS MY CHOICE AND IT WAS GOOD!
    All your posts makes me want to ‘do’ Sylva, Waynesville, Bryson City, etc in search of the best hamburger!
    Regards,
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    February 25, 2014 at 8:14 am

    Tipper–I bet you didn’t know that the Na-Bers you have patronized is the “new” Na-Bers. The burger joint was originally located just below the bridge which is on up old Highway 19 a mile or mile and a half. There’s a little tourist pull out and (I think) picnic table there now. Not only did you have the drive-in, next door Roy Beard had a little six or eight unit motel. Both the motel and the drive-in almost literally hung out over the Tuckasegee. Every time I drive by there I wonder who there was room for either one of them, but in my high school days that’s where Na-Bers was located. Then, as now, they had wonderful burgers.
    Jim Casada
    http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    February 25, 2014 at 7:43 am

    Myra’s in Valdese is a retro, Happy Days style burger joint, complete with a life sized Marilyn Monroe. They make burgers that rival Na-Bers. They make the best onion rings I ever ate. and Hot Fudge Cake! On Friday nights during warm weather they have their Friday Nite Drive In. Their parking lot, Rock Drug’s next door and the back lot of 1st Citizens Bank fill up with old cars and old people showing them off. The whole west end of town becomes a party. There is music blaring, cars cruising with mufflers rumbling and you can get carried back to happier days.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    February 25, 2014 at 7:39 am

    Of course Na-bers is the best. Back before you were in the incubator, it was located about a mile further up the river just before the US19 bridge. If you drove from Brasstown to Canton back in those days, you’d not have gotten off the 4-lane to go there – you’d have driven right by it (after driving through downtown Andrews and downtown Bryson City).
    Maybe some of your other readers with Swain County roots will remember, but I don’t think it was Na-bers back then – I think it was Neighbors. It was perched almost out over the water. There wasn’t enough room between it and the road to park vehicles perpendicular to the road – you had to park sigogglin or slantwise.
    There was also a Sinclair gas station right next to it and a little gift shop. Ginger Black’s folks ran it and lived there for awhile. It burned down sometime in the early 60s and was relocated to its current location by Jim Sneed, who also owned Sneed’s Restaurant in downtown Bryson City.
    Somewhere, I’ve got a photo or two of the old place. I’d bet Pap would remember it.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    February 25, 2014 at 7:37 am

    I remember Na-Bers. When the Deer Hunter was a little fella and we used to go to the lake, Fontana Lake. Passing through Bryson City we often stopped at Na-Bers for one of those great hamburgers. That was quite a while ago. Is it still there?

  • Reply
    Lonnie Baker
    February 25, 2014 at 7:36 am

    B & Al’s Grill in Sylva makes an excellent old fashioned cheeseburger.

  • Reply
    Judy Mincey
    February 25, 2014 at 7:13 am

    New to Calhoun, an outpost of the barbecue kings of Trenton, GA, Thatcher’s, has the best burger around here right now. I miss the old Chow Line and the A&W. I love burgers with pimento cheese! Try the 1880 Grill on St. Elmo Avenue, Chattanooga. Wicked pimento cheese burger.
    Of course, there’s always the Varsity! They used to make all cheeseburgers with pimento cheese. Now you have to specify.

  • Reply
    Stephen Ammons
    February 25, 2014 at 4:26 am

    Hi Tipper. Thanks for the memories of the late night trips to Na-Bers drive in. We would go on friday night after football games and other times to eat and hang out with friends. Do you remember the peacocks they had and would it make you jump when one of them would scream? The only thing I can think of that was better than their burger was a burger that you could buy at Partons gas and grocery just west of Bryson City. It was before microwaves and if I am not mistaken they ware called Stewart sandwiches and you heated them in a toaster oven. They had one that was plain except for butter and chopped onion and I think I think I could have eaten my own weight in them. The only thing that even comes close are those artery clogging White Castle mini cheese burgers. Thanks again for the memories.

  • Leave a Reply