A good meal is one of life’s greatest pleasures, and Cleveland County offers diners options from all corners of the county.
Although these restaurants will take food aficionados outside of Shelby’s city limits, they are worth the drive for anyone seeking comfort food, a family-friendly atmosphere or something a little out of the ordinary.
Choices range from authentic Thai food, home style country cooking and post-hiking coffee flights with fresh donuts to calabash chicken and Philly cheesesteak smothered in gravy and queso.
Bring your appetite when you pick one of these five small-town options:
Thai Hut Restaurant & Oriental Market
202 W. Mountain St., Kings Mountain
Craving something a little more exotic than the typical American dinner? Kings Mountain delivers with some excellent Thai food. Thai Hut was purchased by the Virapanya family in 2019 from its previous owners. The business, which features popular dishes such as cashew chicken stir fry and pad Thai, began around 15 years ago as an oriental market, and the restaurant was added eight years ago.
The market is located in half of the building, and the restaurant the other half. The cook, who is also the owner, loves cooking for people and purchased the restaurant from the former owners to create dishes for people who want to try new Thai foods.
Alexis Virapanya, with Thai Hut, said a few of their most popular dishes are Thai Hut House Special, cashew chicken stir fry, pad Thai, pepper steak, beef pho soup, spring rolls, crab rangoons, and dumplings.
“What makes Thai Hut different from other restaurants is we have an oriental market, and all of our ingredients we make in the restaurant we use from our market so our customers can make the dish at home if they want,” Virapanya said.
The Depot in Lattimore
202 Price St., Lattimore
The Depot, which sits across the street from still active train tracks and a historic caboose parked nearby, offers hearty meals that pack in the people.
Jason Walker, owner, said the restaurant has been serving the town for 12 years, and he bought it less than three years ago.
“We specialize in home-cooked country food. Our chicken pie is very popular, and I’ve morphed that into an individual pot pie,” he said. “Our roast beef is pretty famous. We’ve got people talking about that all the time. We try to make everything from scratch.”
The chicken and waffles is another hit as well as the Hill Philly, a Philly cheese steak smothered in queso and gravy.
Walker said there are several things that make the restaurant unique.
“The history of the building, the tight knit community that we’re in, the kind of walk down memory if you will,” he said. They attract many regular customers, including some who come in to eat twice a day.
The building itself lends flavor to The Depot. Over 120 years old, it was built before the turn of the century and has been home to a Masonic temple, post office, bank, hardware store and mill store front.
The restaurant serves breakfast and lunch only and is closed Saturday.
Snack Shop Family Restaurant
103 S. Main St., Boiling Springs
Sofia Tsambounieris, who is the owner’s daughter and works at the restaurant, said the Snack Shop has been a Boiling Springs staple since 1926.
She said they have a loyal customer base that comes in and eats every day, including many Gardner-Webb University students and staff.
“Also the fact it’s been here so long,” Tsambounieris said. “It’s literally considered historical.”
She said the Snack Shop serves a variety of homestyle meals, from salads and meatloaf to fried chicken and burgers.
There are some top offerings that are fan favorites – including a chicken bacon mozzarella sandwich, calabash chicken and the burgers.
“Janet comes in every morning around 5 in the morning and makes all the daily vegetables,” Tsambounieris said. “And every day it’s something different. Monday is meatloaf, Tuesday is chicken pie, today is stew beef, Friday is fried chicken. She makes those on a daily basis.”
Tsambounieris said the cook’s mom used to make the meals before her.
“Her mom used to do it before her so it’s generations here,” she said.
The food brings people in, but the atmosphere keeps them coming back.
“I could probably name every single customer here on the daily,” Tsambounieris said. “It feels like home, like family here. The first thing my dad says is, ‘Make yourself at home.’”
Big Red’s Cafe
830 E. King St., Kings Mountain
Kelly Lawrence, manager of Big Red’s Café, said the business has been open for four years and under the current ownership for two.
“It’s a family-owned business,” she said. “I think what makes it unique is we are a Christian business. We like to partner with local churches and help with outreach and giving back to the community.”
They offer breakfast and lunch all day with sandwiches, quiche and hand dipped ice cream on the menu.
Then there are the beverages, including coffee and a variety of hot and cold lattes
“Our flights are a little different,” Lawrence said. “Not everyone does coffee flights.”
She said the iced coffee flights come on a sample board and offer four different seasonal flavors.
She said fall flavors include maple, pumpkin and apple.
“It’s great for people who want to experiment with flavors but don’t quite know what to get,” she said.
Big Red’s also has homemade donuts.
“We make fresh to order mini donuts,” she said.
They have specialty flavors each week and set flavors. This week is caramel apple. Last week it was maple bacon.
“We switch up with the seasons,” Lawrence said.
She said they get a lot of customers coming in from the casino and also people in town to hike Crowders Mountain.
“We like to be happy and upbeat, it sets the tone for everybody’s day. We like to be a bright spot in people’s day,” Lawrence said.
4902 Fallston Road, Fallston
The little restaurant tucked away in the small town of Fallston has been serving customers since 1979.
Amanda McLeymore, the current owner, said she started working for Jan Greene 15 years ago and bought the business after Jan passed away in 2020.
“People come all over for the fried chicken and potato wedges,” she said. “That’s what we’re known for. We’ve got really good breakfast, really good burgers. And the club sandwich, oh my goodness. Everybody has their favourites.”
McLeymore said some loyal customers have been coming in to dine for 15 years and get the same thing every time.
“That was one of my things when I bought it, I didn’t want to change anything. The food, nothing. I had seen it was successful, and I didn’t want to change it.”
She said the food is good and consistent as is the service.
“We really care about our customers. We remember what they like and what they don’t like,” she said.