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Beacon Drive-In

255 John B. White Sr. Boulevard, Spartanburg, SC - (864) 585-9387
Posted By Michael Stern on 8/31/2007 9:13:00 PM
Fast, loud, and big, The Beacon is the most intense restaurant you will ever visit. The moment you enter and approach the serving line, you are virtually accosted by an order-taker – J.C. Strobel, the senior man, if you’re lucky – who will demand, “CALL IT OUT!” (If you don’t arrive knowing what you want, sheaves of printed menus are available for study or as souvenirs near the door.) Say what you want to eat and say it quickly, or else JC will tell you to stand back and allow other, swifter customers to say their piece. On a good weekend day, The Beacon will serve five thousand people.

Once you manage to convey your order, J.C. or a comrade will shout it back to the huge open kitchen, then ask you in no uncertain terms to “MOVE ON DOWN THE LINE!” Grab a tray and by the time you have moved twenty paces forward, there your order will be – miraculously, exactly as you ordered it, with or without extra barbecue sauce, double bacon on the burger. A bit farther down the line, you get your tea, lemonade, or milk shake and pay the cashier, then find a seat. Total time from entering to digging in – maybe two minutes.

The best meal is Chili Cheese A-Plenty, which is a chili cheeseburger on a bun buried on a plate underneath piles of sweet and oily onion rings and French fried potatoes. Second choice: Outside Pork A-Plenty, which is hacked-up shreds and chunks of hot, hickory-cooked pork on a bun with cool slaw, given the same delicious burial under o-rings and fries. The Beacon’s menu is huge, ranging from succulent catfish (tail-on, bone-in) to banana-mayo sandwiches on white bread that Elvis might have loved; and nearly all the specialties are available as A-Plenty plates.

Malt A-Plenty, on the other hand, refers to a malted milk shake so thick that one literally can eat it with a fork! Delicious as the malt may be, however, it’s nearly nuts to come to The Beacon and drink anything other than tea. Here is the great drive-in tea of the South – generously sweetened, laced with a touch of lemon, served over a pack of shaved ice that somehow is colder and more refreshing than ice anywhere else. No surprise: The Beacon sells more tea than any other single restaurant in the U.S.A.

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
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The outside pork-a-plenty features a fine chopped pork sandwich with just a small amount of sauce.  Extra sauce is available on request.
"The outside pork-a-plenty features a fine chopped pork sandwich with just a small amount of sauce. Extra sauce is available on request."
Cliff Strutz





A-plenty, as in this chili cheese-a-plenty, means that it comes with onion rings and fries, doled out in generous portions.
"A-plenty, as in this chili cheese-a-plenty, means that it comes with onion rings and fries, doled out in generous portions."
Cliff Strutz


The Beacon's tea is lemony, very sweet and just might be the best in the entire South!  They sell the regular and peach tea in gallons and half-gallons to go.
"The Beacon's tea is lemony, very sweet and just might be the best in the entire South! They sell the regular and peach tea in gallons and half-gallons to go."
Cliff Strutz


A syrup-and-whipped-cream topped banana split that is big enough for at least four pigs!
"A syrup-and-whipped-cream topped banana split that is big enough for at least four pigs!"
Michael Stern


Notice there are two buns on the bottom!  A great design to keep the sandwich from getting soggy.  I was surprised there was cole slaw on the meat but what a great complement.  I loved it!
"Notice there are two buns on the bottom! A great design to keep the sandwich from getting soggy. I was surprised there was cole slaw on the meat but what a great complement. I loved it!"
Brian Piper


Great side dishes!  Hush puppies, baked beans and cole slaw.  Even the baked beans had a little cole slaw in it and it tasted great!
"Great side dishes! Hush puppies, baked beans and cole slaw. Even the baked beans had a little cole slaw in it and it tasted great!"
Brian Piper


For a true taste of the South, try the pimento cheese-a-plenty.
"For a true taste of the South, try the pimento cheese-a-plenty."
Cliff Strutz


Uhhh... A-Plenty!  One of the things they are most known for.  A HUGE stack of homemade onions rings and french fries.  I had to dig my way down to get to my Outside Pork sandwich!  WOW!
"Uhhh... A-Plenty! One of the things they are most known for. A HUGE stack of homemade onions rings and french fries. I had to dig my way down to get to my Outside Pork sandwich! WOW!"
Brian Piper


Fried nearly instantly when ordered, this hot catfish is whole and soulful (although headless), the way true catfish devotees like it.
"Fried nearly instantly when ordered, this hot catfish is whole and soulful (although headless), the way true catfish devotees like it."
Michael Stern


This newer sign, located at the front of the ordering line, is there to help newcomers with the Beacon's distinctive lingo.
"This newer sign, located at the front of the ordering line, is there to help newcomers with the Beacon's distinctive lingo. "
Cliff Strutz


One of the many signs above the order counter, where patrons are encouraged to CHOOSE FAST and WALK THE LINE
"One of the many signs above the order counter, where patrons are encouraged to CHOOSE FAST and WALK THE LINE"
Michael Stern


Local legend JC Strobel has been 'calling out' customer's orders for over 50 years!
"Local legend JC Strobel has been 'calling out' customer's orders for over 50 years!"
Cliff Strutz


Found in the small middle dining room, this nostalgic mural shows the Beacon Drive-In from olden days.
"Found in the small middle dining room, this nostalgic mural shows the Beacon Drive-In from olden days."
Cliff Strutz


This evocative print of the Beacon in 1946 is available for sale at the restaurant and at the Beacon's web site.
"This evocative print of the Beacon in 1946 is available for sale at the restaurant and at the Beacon's web site."
Michael Stern


This lighthouse stands at the far corner of the Beacon's immense parking lot.  A helicopter pad for airborne approach is across the street.
"This lighthouse stands at the far corner of the Beacon's immense parking lot. A helicopter pad for airborne approach is across the street."
Michael Stern


Souvenir of excellent pork and sweet tea
"Souvenir of excellent pork and sweet tea"
Michael Stern



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