Beacon Drive-In

Review by: Michael Stern

The Beacon is fast, loud, and big. The moment you enter and approach the serving line, you are virtually accosted by an order-taker 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 you will be told to stand back and allow other, better-prepared customers to call it out. On a good weekend day, The Beacon will serve five thousand people.

Once you manage to convey your order, it is shouted back to the open kitchen and you will be told 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 meal we like best 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 ranges from 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. Good as the malt may be, however, it’s nuts to come to The Beacon and drink anything other than tea. Here is the definitive 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.

Directions & Hours

7am - 9pm
  • Monday: 7:00 AM – 9:00 PM
  • Tuesday: 7:00 AM – 9:00 PM
  • Wednesday: 7:00 AM – 9:00 PM
  • Thursday: 7:00 AM – 9:00 PM
  • Friday: 7:00 AM – 10:00 PM
  • Saturday: 7:00 AM – 10:00 PM
  • Sunday: 7:00 AM – 8:00 PM

What To Eat

Chili Cheese-a-Plenty

Outside Pork-a-Plenty

Ice Tea

Pimento Cheese-A-Plenty

Perch a Plenty

Beacon Burger-a-Plenty

Peach Cobbler

Apple Pie


Beacon Drive-In Recipes


What do you think of Beacon Drive-In?

6 Responses to “Beacon Drive-In”

Gayle David Bradshaw

October 4th, 2011

My wife left town to attend a wedding (I didn’t have to go) so with the weather being perfect I thought a motorcycle lunch ride would be in order. Remembering the Beacon from a DDD episode I decided to head up to Spartanburg for a Chili Cheese-A-Plenty. Left home at 6:30 am and after 420 miles rolled in just after their lunch rush.

This may have been my mistake as the food was disappointing and I was not sure if it was because it had been sitting there for a while or if it is just not good. I won’t be making a special trip for this food again, although if I am just happening to be passing through I might stop just to make sure I didn’t catch them on a bad day. Would not recommend.


Scott Wilson

July 15th, 2011

Let me start out by saying I’ve grown up with The Beacon Drive-In. We, local high school students in the 70s, would cruise and eat at The Beacon Drive-In every Friday and Saturday night. We’d load up our hot rods and head outta Inman around 8 PM, drive to Spartanburg, and park on the bottom side (carhop side) of The Beacon Drive-In. The carhops would come to your vehicle and take your order.

Most would invest in a Chili-Cheese A-Plenty to fulfill their appetites. The best part of the plate were the onion rings. They were greasy but extremely super-flavorful and overly plentiful on the tray that the carhop hung from your window!

After we polished off as much as we could, we’d start cruisin’ up the parking lot to drop off our trash and trays, then circle out on Reidville Road to make another pass. This was a weekly ritual with the greatest food around.

But tonight, now living 60 miles away, I began a journey to commemorate those days and dispel all the negative comments listed here with a meal for my wife and myself. We got there around 8 O’clock and my wife ordered a Cheeseburger A-Plenty. I ordered something that most won’t eat, a half-and-half order of livers and gizzards without trimmings. I figured there would be more than enough fries and onion rings on her plate for us both so I ordered my plate plain.

We went outside, ready for an awesome meal. To my surprise there was only about half of what use to be on a plate so I walked back in to get an order of onion rings. I returned to our table only to have my bubble burst. The onions were WAY too greasy and the breading had no taste. I had to drown the onions and the “parts” I ordered in ketchup to give them flavor.

With my feelings shattered I could do nothing shy of apologizing to my wife for wasting her time, $40 in gas, and giving her indigestion. To my disappointment, the other reviewers hit the nail on the head. This was the worst meal I’ve had in quite some time! I’m sorry to agree but The Beacon Drive-In was a Drive-Out for me, forever.

I have never posted a review of a restaurant in my life but I feel so strongly about my latest experience that I have to let everyone know what’s what. Not only was the food tasteless, I paid $4.00 for a grilled cheese sandwich for a two-year-old: two slices of plain white bread and a couple of pieces of sliced wrapped cheese! Let talk about adding insult to injury. All I can say is, “Beacon, you can turn off your light, cause I’ll not follow it to Spartanburg ever again.” Mr. White, I thank you for all those weekends in the 70s and may The Beacon Drive-In rest in peace.


Nancy Castro

March 12th, 2011

Disgusting! The place was dirty and the food was worse. The Beacon burger with coleslaw on it: I thought the coleslaw and burger would be homemade. It was the worst frozen burger, with a lot of junk on it to try and cover the taste.

We were on a road trip and stopped in this town to eat here just because of the recommendation in the book. I don’t know what the author of the review was thinking. What a waste of space in the book!



October 25th, 2010

What a major disappointment…this will never be confused with the wonderful and great Varsity in Atlanta. This place was disgustingly dirty and greasy. We almost didn’t order, as there was grease and food all over the floor in the “kitchen”. Onion rings were soggy, greasy, stringy, limp, cold pieces of onion. Fries were typical freezer variety, sopping up the grease from the onion rings on top of them. Underneath were our cardboard tasting burgers, with buns drenched in the onion ring grease. For half the cost, we could have gotten much better food at a fast food restaurant! Do NOT waste your time or money here. None of us ate all the food, not because there was so much, but because it was terrible! If you like the taste of grease, with your food presented in a pile on a plate, go for it!

Don’t know how they stay in business!


William Evans

January 12th, 2009

The entertainment factor is high with the order taking: the “AAA-Plen-Tee” call out was killer. However, this is the single worst meal I’ve ever been served.

I had the fish platter: two kinds of fried fish, fries, onion rings, and hush puppies. I tried a bite of everything. I wanted it to be good; I was rooting for these people. Then it went straight into the trash. I tried half of my mom’s burger, which was cold, and then decided to stick with my lemonade (corn syrup, yellow food dye, your basic concentrate from a jug; you can forget fresh anything here).

Listen, the primary reviewer was either outed or lucky. My parents had seen this on Guy F’s show on the Food Network, which is how we ended up here. Maybe they can at least serve a meal hot and fresh for the cameras. But the food was shameful, and the dining area and kitchen were a cesspool. This tastes like low-grade frozen foodservice truck drek that’s not even being deep-fried correctly. This is beneath the standards of your basic fast-food chains by a long shot. I love good Roadfood. This is not it. The low price point does not excuse the shoddy standards in the kitchen.


Oscar Sester

April 21st, 2007

I went to the Beacon on 4/7/07. Th first thing I noticed was that it was filthy. The whole ceiling in the food prep area was flaking; some areas were several feet in size. There was a good chance that you would get plaster-a-plenty with your meal. Second thing I noticed: the floor in the food prep area was also filthy, food and liquid everwhere.

I ordered just the chili burger and lemonade. The chili tasted like salted potted meat, with no resemblance to chili, and the burger had a pink center. I could not taste the cheese. Tossed it after three bites.

The Beacon has a strong local following and history, but it is amazing that the health department has not made them repair that ceiling.


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