Lupie’s Cafe

lupies-ext-1

Location: 2718 Monroe Rd  28205

Lupie’s is a restaurant that was suggested to us a while ago by Derek, one of our readers. He told us we had to try this place, which has been open in the same location since 1987. He did give me a “warning,” though. They don’t have specialty burgers. But that was fine, because I’ve been there before and I knew there was a burger I could get there that I couldn’t find anywhere else in Charlotte.

Lupie’s is a great chili restaurant. In fact, I would venture to say that it’s the chili restaurant in Charlotte. What’s great about it is that they have four styles of chili, and according to everyone, they’re all good. They have Southern Chili, Texas Chili, Vegetarian Chili, and, the one I was most excited about, the Cincinnati Chili.

My friend Matt is a Cincinnati Reds fan, and a couple of summers ago we drove up there to see a series. While there, I fell in love with Cincinnati chili. If you haven’t had it, it’s not the same as other chili’s. It’s a little sweeter than others, and I believe it has chocolate in it. It’s served over noodles, and topped with, usually, a ridiculous amount of shredded cheese. It’s the signature dish of the city.

As far as I know, Lupie’s is the only place in Charlotte 1 that you can get Cincinnati chili, so I wanted to try a Cincinnati Chili Burger.

Of course, that isn’t exactly on the menu. I had to order the Lupie’s Chili Slaw Burger, request the Cincinnati chili, decline the slaw, and ask specifically for shredded cheese. The shredded cheese is key. It wouldn’t be the same with a slice. The chili and the cheese have to interact.

lupies-menu

As I was explaining to our server exactly how I wanted the burger, she gave me “the look.” I usually only get the look when I’m out with Angus, and it’s usually him who gets the look. It’s that look the server gives you when they begin to realize that you’re not a normal customer, and that you’re maybe going to be a problem for them. Sometimes it’s justified, sometimes it’s not. 2

But, despite her possible reservations, she took my order and very quickly it was out to the table. Here’s the tale of the tape:

EXHIBIT A:  CINCINNATI CHILI BURGER
(Hereford’s design, with only Cincinnati Chili,Shredded Cheese, and a Kaiser Roll)

lupies-burger

Official Weight:  8.4 ounces

Official Diameter: 5 inches

Official Height:  2.5 inches

Cost: $8.15 (includes chips or coleslaw)

Cooked to order: No

When the burger came out, it was missing a key ingredient. They forgot to put the chili on it. So I alerted the server, and she very kindly fixed it. (I’m sure she was thinking when I flagged her down, “I knew it… Problem Guy.”)

Considering this burger only has four things in it, I’ll discuss them separately. You get a choice when you order between a Kaiser roll and an Onion roll. I picked the Kaiser, and it was great. Obviously it was quality stuff, and probably locally made. It did make the burger itself seem kind of small, though. I’ve already said a lot of kind things about the chili, so I’m not sure I need to say more. It’s fantastic. And you have to get it with the shredded cheese.

The burger itself was just…okay. It seemed small, and it was a little overcooked and a little dry. But the overall combination was still interesting. I liked it.

lupies-meat

Burger Rating: 3

Other Food

They don’t have french fries at Lupie’s, so the sides choices are chips and coleslaw. I was actually happy they were store-bought chips, as opposed to house chips, which I usually don’t like. 3

Still, I didn’t really touch them and I think next time I’ll get the coleslaw.

Beer

Lupie’s doesn’t have much in regards to beer. They have no taps, in fact they have no beer menu. Our server said the bottles on the wall were their beer menu. Looking at those, they had Budweiser, Miller Light, Coors, Guinness, Rolling Rock, Newcastle, Yuengling, etc.

Beer Rating: 1.5

Atmosphere

Lupie’s Cafe has been in this same location since 1987, and although that wasn’t that long ago, it’s just as much of a time capsule of a restaurant as South 21 or Bar-B-Q King. I don’t think Lupie’s has changed much of their decorations since then. In fact, and I loved this, they still have a cassette shelf on the wall behind the bar. (Sorry I didn’t get a better picture of it.)

lupies-tape-deck

You know, I needed another copy of R.E.M.’s Document. I wonder if they’d notice if I took it.

Another thing I loved about Lupie’s is that they have two dining rooms, and one of them is lowered compared to the others. I’m not sure what it is about levels that I’ve always liked, but I feel it makes a space and a restaurant somehow dynamic.

Atmosphere Rating: 3.5

lupies-int

If you look carefully you can see where Elliott crashed that bike he and E.T. were riding on.

Conclusion

What was your favorite thing (non-food) about Lupie’s?

Maybe this.

lupies-chicken

This reminds me of something Julianne Moore said in some movie, but I’m having a hard time remembering exactly what it was……

In the first dining room they also have a bunch of other cool stuff up, including some Elvis stuff I liked. Everything that’s on the wall was loved by somebody who put it there, which gives the place a nice, organic atmosphere.

What was your least favorite thing?

I know I’m in the minority on this one, and this didn’t even matter because I ordered a Diet Coke, but the sweet tea from here comes in Mason Jars. I’m sure most people find those charming, but I’ve always hated drinking out of Mason Jars. I don’t like putting my mouth on the threading. It’s good thing I prefer beer to moonshine.

Would you eat here again?

Yes.

Next time you come by, what will you order?

Actually, I need to try the Texas Chili because I haven’t had that one yet and I hear it’s just as good as the others .

Does Lupie’s earn the Charlotte Burger Blog Seal of Approval?

Not quite. The burger itself would need to be a little better, but certainly this restaurant is a must-visit for people who live in Charlotte.

Signed,

signage-hereford

Lupie's Cafe on Urbanspoon

Notes:

  1. If there is some other place that serves it, please let me know
  2. With Angus it’s always justified
  3. They’re usually too greasy, and they remind me that the place is frying stuff anyway, so they should just go ahead and make some fries while they’re at it.