The intersection of Walker and Elam Avenues in the heart of the Lindley Park neighborhood has become a haven for repurposing. Just as the Lindley Park Filling Station is a former gas station, its across-the-street competitor used to be a barbershop. That gives Emma Key’s some retro charm, but it also makes for very limited seating. Come here during a busy lunch hour and you’ll barely have room to stand, let alone find a seat and eat. That and the meager (though friendly) staff make this a poor choice if you’re famished or in a hurry.
Depending on your cravings though, the food may be worth the wait. The burgers here are among the best in Greensboro. Made fresh and served hot off the grill (so hot you shouldn’t try to pick them up right away), the misshapen patties might not be much to look at, but they are juicy and flavorful. A plethora of toppings (including several kinds of cheese and house-made Tabasco ketchup) lets you have your steak(burger) and eat it too.
Emma Key’s offers no steals, but you’ll still pay less here than you will next door (Sticks n Stones) or across the street (Fishbones or The Filling Station). Burgers with no sides run from $4.50 and up while plain fries are $1.85. At $4.50, shakes are half a buck away from spawning Pulp Fiction jokes.
As bare-bones burger joints go, Emma Key’s satisfyingly delivers, but the potential for crowding and wait times and the less than ideal parking situation means would-be patrons should come with a backup plan in mind.