HUNTERSVILLE – It is not often that a restaurant is a study in contradictions.

The second Pinky’s Westside Grill just opened in Huntersville, and it feels like an original. There is a dive-bar attitude with a tattoo-parlor vibe featuring inked waitstaff and eclectic wall art.

But it doesn’t take long to comprehend that this is no average burger joint. The owners and menu work hard to lure customers in and keep them coming back for more. It’s only been open two weeks but the fact that there are already regulars speaks to the magnetic nature of this amazing restaurant.

Dave Rhames comes from the kitchen with a huge sandwich in his hand.

“I have to eat this quickly before the lunch rush begins,” Rhames said.

All of the partners are completely hands-on. They can run the kitchen and the front of house, work the bar or wash the dishes.

“Heck, half the time, I’m taking out the trash,” Rhames said, grinning.

The partners know how to get it done so operations run smoothly. They also own the original Pinky’s Westside Grill on Morehead Street in Charlotte, and the original three owners cut their proverbial restaurant teeth at the Penguin Diner in Charlotte.

The original Pinky’s opened in November 2010. The partners wanted a place that served great diner food but offered more options.

“Listen, I don’t want to eat unhealthy food every day,” Rhames said. “We did some of it for ourselves, but then realized this is what customers want.”

So there are salads with grilled chicken, tuna or shrimp. There is the Kinda Fried Turkey, which is wrapped in foil and then put in the deep fryer so the meat gets cooked and juicy but doesn’t absorb all the grease. Plus the menu boasts: a grilled chicken breast sandwich, honey-cilantro slaw and Thai-inspired dishes.

However, the grill stays true to is diner roots.

The White Trash Burger features a 5-ounce burger with provolone, fried pickles and onion rings topped with spicy ranch sauce. The thing is juicy, messy and totally delicious. The waffle fries topped with homemade pimento cheese need to be shared, otherwise the customer will end up eating the entire basket. The corndogs are hand-dipped and there is also corndog shrimp on the menu. The falafel is homemade. The burgers area hand-pattied and every fried item is made to order so it comes out crisp, hot and fresh.

“I’ve got to hand it to Chef Greg Auten,” Rhames said. “The menu is surprising, but always delicious.”

Todd Sullivan, of Charlotte, has eaten at the restaurant seven times since it opened Dec. 4 of this year.

“Everything is always 100 percent amazing every time we eat here,” Sullivan said. “The management is good, the waitstaff is good and the food? The food is just amazing.”

Sullivan came one time on a Saturday and said there were customers everywhere.

“You couldn’t stir ‘em with a stick, it was so crowded in here,” he said.

The restaurant seats about 120 people and has an nice patio for outdoor seating, as well. There are booths and tables for seating choice, as well as a full bar.

Rhames attributes the popularity of the Pinky’s brand to being the place for any type of customer but especially families whose parents still like to have a good time when they go out to eat.

“It’s a little edgy here,” he said. “But real people like to go out, grab some amazing food and maybe have a drink. We happily cater to those people and their families.”

And clearly, they cater to everyone else as well with a diverse and delicious menu, fun vibe and friendly waitstaff. Pinky’s Westside Grill is a welcome addition to the growing Huntersville restaurant scene.


Want to go? Pinky’s Westside Grill, 9818 Gilead Road, Huntersville, 704-727-0142.