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Jul 26, 2014 09:43 AM

Charcoal Pit - Wilmington, DE

my good chow radar must have been broken yesterday as I somehow pulled off route 202 and into this place for lunch. Never been before and have to say it was the worst burger and fries I've ever had.

Cool vintage sign and building along with a full parking lot lured me in. A stoic, grey bearded host/cashier looked at me with disdain and mumbled "on the right". OK, guess I'll find a booth on the right.

Ordered the 8oz special burger medium with fries and a root beer.

5 mins later a dry, well done hockey puck on a bun arrived with some flash fried, previously frozen fries. No sign of life in that dense, flavorless burger. It was all I could do to choke down the mystery meat. No care by the grill guy as to what's being served.

This place lost it's greatness a long time ago. It's clear not a penny has been invested in upkeep or quality provisions. The POS system is vintage 1986 with green on green CRT's. Sad.

I was going to share my thoughts on the burger with the host/cashier but with his silence, it was obvious he was only interested in taking my cash.

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  1. Sorry to hear this, as I enjoyed it back in 1989 when I was there on business. Still, as I may have more reason to be back in that area later this year for pleasure, it's good to know to avoid it.

    2 Replies
    1. re: mcsheridan

      That burger was really, really bad.

      Are you familiar with Johnnies Dog House? I was going to try, but it was on the other side of the busy 202. Will make the U-turn next time I'm passing thru.

      1. re: Foody4life

        No, I have no experience with Johnnies.

    2. I haven't had a burger there for years, and they were never that great, but I go to Charcoal Pit for the milkshakes anyway.

      The lack of modernization is viewed by some as period charm :-)

      1 Reply
      1. re: travelmad478

        The milkshakes are what I remember most. They came with the metal container for refills.

      2. I'm not too surprised. I lived a stone's throw from there for 27 years and gave up on it long ago. Johnnies' prices seemed too high for what you get and so never felt compelled to go back there either. I'll just go to Five Guys for a burger and Lucky's or Hollywood Grill for any other diner type eats in that area.

        1. Maybe you were subliminally influenced by the recent visit by POTUS?

          Did the Charcoal Pit ever serve up good burgers? Johnnies is just dishing up fast food hot dogs.

          Lucky's on 202 is your best burger bet, with Hollywood Grill a distant two.

          1. after giving it some thought, I may have pissed off the host/cashier?!?

            When I entered, the empty lobby was chained off. Thinking I used the wrong door, I stepped thru the coat rack to approach the host/cashier.

            My bad, but that still doesn't make up for the tasteless freezer burned patty they're trying to pass off as "cooked to order" with "Beef, ground fresh daily, never frozen, is the basis of our business to ensure a quality hamburger for our customers".

            6 Replies
            1. re: Foody4life

              It's not like you were trying to dodge a metal detector. There is no excuse for a host to have an attitude with a customer but, I guess it is indicative of their attitude toward customers.

              1. re: Foody4life

                Never liked their food or their 'tude.

                And for a long time they didn't take credit cards at one of their sit-down places (now gone). Both annoying and a bit suspicious.

                1. re: Foody4life

                  That business with chaining off the entrance is not new and has always been aggravating and off-putting. I have never understood it. I got the same attitude from the hostess the first time I encountered it.

                  Still, the milkshakes are by far the best around. You can get them at the takeout window if you want to bypass the bad burgers and "we've always done it this way" service nonsense.

                  1. re: Foody4life

                    If it's a burger you are in the mood for when in the area, Lucky's Coffee Shop serves a pretty good one. For diner type food, fast service, and decent prices, Hollywood Grill is reliable. Both are on the northbound side of 202 in Wilmington. I would avoid Charcoal Pit.

                    1. re: Foody4life

                      We almost went through that coat rack, too, when we were there last Saturday! That cashier is miserable, plain and simple. To be honest, we hadn't eaten there since this time of year in 2009. I reviewed it elsewhere, and we pretty much vowed never to go back. That was based on the service. We weren't sure about Casapullo's North across the street having eat-in, so we pulled into this place anyway. On Saturday, I did ask for my plain hamburger medium, and it really was medium. We split the fries (which never seem as well done as they should be to me). This place is just alright for what it is. Really, that's all I can say, but it wasn't a bad experience.