Ammons Drive Inn & Dairy Bar, Waynesville, North Carolina from You Can Still Pull Up to These 50 Drive-In Restaurants Gallery
You Can Still Pull Up to These 50 Drive-In Restaurants Gallery
You Can Still Pull Up to These 50 Drive-In Restaurants
There are a lot of restaurants that are pure Americana. Dive-y burger restaurants, hot dog stands, and even an old-school steakhouse that cooks your beef to perfection. But perhaps no eatery is as American as a classic drive-in restaurant. What’s more iconic than pulling up to a parking lot, getting waited on by a server who runs (or roller skates) up to your driver side window, and chowing down on a burger? That’s right, nothing.
However, the drive-in is a dying breed. Look no further than the classic A&W root beer stands. At the chain’s peak in the 1960s, it had over 2,400 locations. Today, there are about half that number worldwide. But if you’re still looking for a place to park and sip on a milkshake, worry no more.
We sought out 50 drive-in restaurants from coast to coast (and Hawaii) that are still operating and thriving today. Of course, the vast majority of these joints serve up drive-in classics like hot dogs, onion rings, and chocolate malts. But there are plenty of original drive-in concepts here, including an all-chili restaurant, Southern barbecue, crab cakes, and lobster. Want to know where you should cruise to for a foodie adventure? Roll your windows down, and check out our list of 50 drive-in restaurants you can still visit.
Ammons Drive Inn & Dairy Bar, Waynesville, North Carolina
It’s easy to get a vintage feel at a drive-in, but it’s much harder to actually get a vintage price. Well, at Ammons Drive Inn & Dairy Bar in Waynesville, North Carolina, you can still get a cheeseburger for just $2. A side of fries will cost just $1.75. Everything here is cheap and delicious. You can get a chicken finger dinner with fries, coleslaw, and a roll for $7.95, a 5-ounce flounder dinner for $8.25, and a corn dog for just $1.35. If you still have room after all that, you must get the cobbler, with rotating flavors nightly.
Ardy & Ed's Drive In, Oshkosh, Wisconsin
Roller skating carhops will serve you your burgers and crinkle-cut fries at Ardy & Ed's Drive In. It truly has been around forever, opening in 1948 as an A&W drive-in. Ardy & Ed’s went independent and got its current name in the ‘70s, but their draft root beer is still the same. It’s known in the region for being some of the absolute best you’ll ever find.
Avi’s Screamers Drive In, Wickenburg, Arizona
If you like tons of flavor, look no further than Avi’s Screamers Drive In in Wickenburg, Arizona. While the Screamer Burger is known around the area, the Green Chili Burger is a favorite among fans of this classic spot. Complete your order with some seasoned fries, and you’ll truly be eating like a local.
Bar-B-Q King, Charlotte, North Carolina
The South is known for its fried chicken and barbecue, and Bar-B-Q King in Charlotte, North Carolina, is no different. Heck, if you can’t decide between the two, you can always get fried chicken soaked in barbecue sauce. Patrons of this old-school drive-in rave about the barbecue pulled pork, homemade hush puppies, and onion rings.
Beacon Drive-In, Spartanburg, South Carolina
Beacon Drive-In opened in 1946, and this Southern classic has been dishing out fast food to drivers (and diners in indoor booths) ever since. They’re perhaps best known for their “a-plenty” option, which means your meal will come with literal piles of sweet onion rings and french fries.
Bill’s Drive-In, Ypsilanti, Michigan
You come to Bill’s Drive-In in Ypsilanti, Michigan, for one thing only: hot dogs. You can fancy up your dog however you want, but the best hot dogs in America are simple and cheap. And that’s what you will find here. At this cash-only establishment, you can get a hot dog for just $1.65. A mug of homemade root beer is just 70 cents. You can get innovative here with the B-Dog (ground beef and a hot dog in a hot dog bun) for $2 or cheese on your hot dog for a quarter more, but with prices like that, you should just try it all.
Bobo’s Drive In, Topeka, Kansas
For over 50 years, Bobo’s Drive In has been serving customers classic American food, such as burgers, coney dogs, onion rings, and chili. What really makes this drive-in stand out is its signature Spanish Burger. Served with either one or two patties, this cheeseburger is topped with a tangy and ever-so-slightly spicy picante sauce. You’d have to be a bozo not to pop into Bobo’s next time you’re in Kansas.
Boomer's Drive-In, Bellingham, Washington
Boomer’s Drive-In is consistently voted the best burger in its hometown of Bellingham, Washington, and even if there isn’t a ton of competition, it’s easy to see why they get this honor. The burgers are irresistible, from the classic Big Boom with half pound of ground beef and American cheese to funky offerings like the teriyaki burger with grilled pineapple rings, Swiss cheese and teriyaki sauce. The perfect side to go with those all-beef burgers is the legendary waffle fries, which are fried and seasoned to perfection.
Cameron’s Lobster House, Brunswick, Maine
You don’t always think of seafood when you think of drive-ins, but Cameron’s Lobster House in Brunswick, Maine, will bring you seafood straight to your driver’s seat. They have all sorts of varieties of fried seafood baskets, including an irresistible haddock, juicy shrimp, or fantastically flavored scallops. If you’re feeling fancy, you can get a lobster roll, lobster stew, or a lobster salad. This is a lobster house, after all!
Charlie's Drive-In, Hortonville, Wisconsin
Nothing says summertime in Hortonville, Wisconsin, like a meal at Charlie’s Drive-In. For over 50 years, this slice of Americana has been serving up drive-in classics like fried mushrooms, cheese curds, hot dogs, and burgers. In addition to all these staples, there are some fun twists on a classic burger like the pizzaburger (with mozzarella and a zesty spice blend) and a mushroom burger with fried onions and horseysauce.
Classic 50's Drive-In, Norman, Oklahoma
Classic 50’s Drive-In has been a staple in Norman, Oklahoma, for over 60 years. This family owned and operated restaurant has all the drive-in staples you could ever want: old-fashioned burgers, onion rings, tater tots, and corn dogs. The most unique offering you’ll find here is the Sprittle, a Sprite infused with Skittles. It’s a sugary soda dream come true!
Dandy’s Drive-in, Bend, Oregon
Roller skating carhops truly make you feel like you’ve gone back in time at Dandy’s Drive-in in Bend, Oregon. Head to this hotspot not just for some of the best burgers you’ll find on the West Coast, but also for old-school classics like chocolate malts. The tots are crispy and the shakes are cold. What is there to complain about?
Dari-ette Drive-In, Saint Paul, Minnesota
You typically think of burgers and fries at a drive-in, but at Dari-ette Drive-In, you’ll find authentic Italian eats. OK, you’ll find burgers too of course, but the real stars at this family-owned restaurant are the meatball sandwich, spaghetti, and Italian chicken sandwich. Because of its snowy Saint Paul location, this drive-in isn’t open all year long, so be sure to stop by when the weather is warm.
Dean’s Drive Inn, Kaneohe, Hawaii
While many of the drive-ins on this list are actually old-school establishments, Dean’s Drive Inn in Kaneohe, Hawaii, only opened in 2006. It rose to prominence after being featured on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, and moved into a larger space in 2015. The food that got them national attention includes colorful Hawaiin fare like ahi crab cakes, teriyaki beer, and rack of lamb, but regulars at this joint will tell you it’s really all about those ahi cakes.
Dick’s Drive-In, Seattle, Washington
There are few burgers more iconic (and affordable) in Seattle than the ones you will find at Dick’s Drive-In. For less than $2, you’ll get a small but mighty burger with some of the best meat around and a slice of classic American cheese. Like any good drive-in, Dick’s has some creamy, dreamy milkshakes, but they keep the menu simple: three flavors (vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry) and just one size only.
Dizzy Whizz, Louisville, Kentucky
Dizzy Whizz is a true family-owned establishment and has been since it opened its doors in the late 1940s. This Louisville favorite has curbside service, where you can order steak hoagies, fried chicken sandwiches, and tuna salad. Their signature item is the Whizzburger, which comes complete with two burger patties, a special sauce, lettuce, and cheese.
Dog House Drive-In, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Fans of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul will already be familiar with the Dog House, which was featured in multiple scenes on the pair of AMC shows. And while you won’t fine Jesse Pinkman here, you will find footlong hot dogs and other classic drive-in fare like Frito pie, burgers, and shakes. Be sure to top your hot dog or burger with their signature chili; it’s simply to die for.
Don’s Drive In, Traverse City, Michigan
There are a lot of reasons to visit Traverse City, Michigan, it’s one of America’s most underrated towns for food and best cities for beer lovers. And while you’re eating and drinking your way through Traverse City, be sure to pop in to Don’s Drive In. This drive-in truly feels like the ‘50s, with picnic tables in the summers and carhops delivering food year-round. They serve all your diner classics, like burgers, chili, fries, and patty melts. And no trip here would be complete without one of their hand-blended milkshakes.
Doumar's Cones and Barbecue, Norfolk, Virginia
Every day is National Ice Cream Day at Doumar’s Cones and Barbecue. The restaurant’s founder Abe Doumar was rumored to have created the very first ice cream cone back in 1904, and this Virginia staple still uses what they claim is the world’s first four-iron waffle machine. In addition to scoops of vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, butter pecan, lime sherbet, and orange sherbet, you’d be missing out if you didn’t try some of their pork barbecue, minced together with slaw.
The Drive In, Taylor Falls, Minnesota
What drive-in? Well, The Drive In in Taylors Falls, Minnesota. While this place has an old-fashioned vibe with carhops in poodle skirts and vintage-looking menus, the food here is made with local beef, locally-made baked goods, and local fresh milk. Even the root beer is made fresh onsite every single day. If that isn’t enough to entice you, consider their signature pizza burger with a sausage and beef patty, marinara, and provolone cheese.
Ed Walker’s Drive-In & Restaruant/Yelp
Ed Walker’s Drive-In & Restaurant, Fort Smith, Arkansas
The sign at Ed Walker’s Drive-In & Restaurant in Fort Smith, Arkansas, advertises one thing: French dip sandwiches. It’s what they’re famous for, and one bit of the tender, generously portioned sandwich will prove why. Beyond their legendary French dip, regulars recommend the hot chicken, hamburger steak, and burgers.
Evelyn’s Drive-In, Tiverton, Rhode Island
If you’re eating at an East Coast drive-in, you better know there’s going to be seafood on the menu. At Evelyn’s Drive-In in Tiverton, Rhode Island, you’ll find local favorites like crab cake sandwiches, a lobster roll, Rhode Island-style calamari with hot pepper rings and garlic butter, and a chow mein sandwich. You can also get fancy with grilled sea scallops or indulgent with Evelyn’s Lobster Chow Mein, featuring 5 ounces of tender lobster, hot chow mein gravy, and crispy noodles.
Falafel’s Drive-In, San Jose, California
When Anton and Zahie Nijmeh opened their drive-in in 1966, they started off by selling typical drive-in dishes, like cheeseburgers, hot dogs, and french fries. And while those things are still on the menu at Falafel’s Drive-In today, their namesake menu item is what makes this San Jose, California, spot stand out. And you should order the falafel, with the homemade red sauce and a side of pita chips.
Frisco’s Carhops Diner, City of Industry, California
Yes, you come to Friso’s Carhops Diner for the food, but you also come for the kitschy carhops, decked out in shiny hot pink skirts and roller skates. As you get carside service (or sit in a car-shaped booth inside), you can order classic burgers on Parmesan sourdough bread, pastrami sandwiches, and crispy yet oh-so-indulgent chili cheese fries.
George The Chili King Drive-In, Des Moines, Iowa
It’s right there in the name. At George the Chili King, you order the chili. If you don’t mind a bit of a mess in your car, a carhop can deliver your food straight to your window, but be careful not to spill on your seats! Not only because chili is messy, but because the food here is precious. You can get staples here like burgers and hot dogs, but you’d be silly not to get them with chili. The Hambconey is a particular delight; it’s a hamburger served on a hot dog bun, smothered in chili sauce. Talk about a mashup!
Gaelyn Z. / Yelp
Jerry's Curb Service, Beaver, Pennsylvania
A true local’s joint, Jerry’s Curb Service doesn’t have a whole lot of frills to it. You’ll find burgers, chicken and steak sandwiches, chicken tenders, jalapeño poppers, breaded mushrooms, and various baskets of sirloin steak with fries or a grilled chicken with fries. Regardless of your order, be sure to douse your food in Jerry’s sauce, a sort of twist on mayochup with additional seasonings.
Yanelly J. / Yelp
Keller’s Drive-In, Dallas, Texas
Cruise on over to Dallas to visit Keller’s Drive-In. For over 50 years, this old-school establishment has been dishing out budget-friendly eats to all walks of life. The most expensive menu item is the grilled chicken sandwich, which costs a whopping $3.39. The most popular thing here is the No. 5 special, a double meat burger with cheese, lettuce, tomato, and special dressing on a poppy seed bun. Pros will tell you to order it with tater tots. But don’t be afraid to load that baby up with grilled onions, too. They come on any sandwich free of charge.
BethAnne S. / Yelp
King Louie's Drive-In, Wood River, Illinois
King Louie's Drive-In is a local favorite in Wood River, Illinois. Residents of this town flock to this old-school drive-in for the burgers, like the classic King Louie burger and their famous potato planks, which are somewhere between a steak fry and a classic french fry. If you dare, you can attempt their King of the Jungle Challenge, which contains a 2-pound burger, loaded potato planks, and a 32-ounce soda of your choice. If you finish it all in 30 minutes, you get your photo on the wall and a free T-shirt.
Mike T. / Yelp
King Tut Drive-In, Beckley, West Virginia
A lot of drive-ins will close in the winter, but King Tut Drive-In in Beckley, West Virginia, increases its menu by adding potato soup, vegetable soup, and chili to its menu. It’s safe to say this ain’t your average drive-in. Sure, you can get burgers and shakes, but King Tut also offers typical table-service fare like pizza, meatloaf, and scallops.
Left: Angela K./Yelp; Right: Jessica H./Yelp
Mac’s Drive-In, McCook, Nebraska
While Mac’s Drive-In does have indoor seating, for the best experience, you should eat in your vehicle and get your food delivered by a carhop. The fries here are hot and crispy, the malts are cold and creamy, and the burgers are oh-so-satisfying. Fans of Mac’s rave about the pizza burger, a burger topped with mozzarella, marinara sauce, and Parmesan cheese.
Chuck P. / Yelp
Mac’s Steak in the Rough, Albuquerque, New Mexico
You typically expect to see burgers and fries at a drive-in, and while Mac’s Steak in the Rough in Albuquerque, New Mexico, does have those offerings, you want to come here for their taquitos and namesake Steak in the Rough. These freshly cut and breaded steak fingers are served with gravy and coleslaw. It’s impossible to walk away from this joint still hungry.
Craig L. / Yelp
Matt’s Place, Butte, Montana
Matt’s Place is such a food institution, it was honored with a James Beard Foundation America’s Classic Award in 2016. But don’t think that makes this joint pretentious! Despite its gold status, they’re still slinging the same ol’ burgers and fries. The signature item here is the nut burger, a classic burger served with pickles, lettuce, onion, tomato… and mayonnaise infused with crushed peanuts.
Mitch L. / Yelp
Moonlight Drive-In, Titusville, Florida
The Moonlight Drive-In’s name is no coincidence; it’s close to Kennedy Space Center, and tourists flock to this old-school restaurant for a cheap yet delicious meal delivered by carhops after a day exploring the headquarters. Here, you’ll find diner classics like burgers, club sandwiches, and barbecue pork sandwiches at reasonable prices. The best thing here is the peanut butter and fudge milkshake, homemade with scrumptious hot fudge.
Caleb B. / Yelp
Mugs Up Drive In, Independence, Missouri
If you want two things from a classic drive-in, it’s a cheap burger and a high-quality root beer. Luckily, Mugs Up Drive In in Independence, Missouri, has both. Like a true Missouri spot, they specialize in loose meat sandwiches, topped with only the finest Cheez Whiz. The root beer is homemade and like nowhere else you’ll ever go.
Sharron H. / Yelp
Murdo Drive-In, Murdo, South Dakota
On the website for Murdo Drive-In, there is a poem. The opening line is “We are not fast! We are good,” and that is true. You don’t come here for fast food, you come here for great food. Locals rave about the simple-sounding but expertly executed menu items such as the broasted chicken, local grass-fed burgers, and broccoli cheese bites.
Jacob D. / Yelp
Parkette Drive-In, Lexington, Kentucky
Joe Smiley opened the Parkette on November 11, 1951, and it’s been a Kentucky institution ever since. Their signature burger is the Poor Boy, which features two 4-ounce Angus beef patties, American cheese, onion, lettuce, tomato, pickle, mustard, and their signature Parkette sauce on a toasted double decker bun. In addition to a selection of classic and specialty burgers, Parkette serves up some fried chicken that competes with the best in the country.
Joshua B. / Yelp
Rainbow Drive-In, Honolulu, Hawaii
You may not think of Hawaii as a place with a charming, old-school drive-in diner, but that is in fact where Rainbow Drive-In is. You can find burgers and chili dogs here, but the real reason you come to Rainbow is for the Hawaiin fast food. SPAM sandwiches, barbecue beef, and a fish of the day with two scoops of rice and macaroni salad are just a few of the many specialty items to indulge in.
Mark M. / Yelp
Red Rabbit Drive In, Duncannon, Pennsylvania
Hop on over to the Red Rabbit Drive In in Duncannon, Pennsylvania and get yourself a Bunny Burger, with a ground beef patty, smoked bacon, cheese, shredded lettuce, tomato, pickle, onion, and special sauce all on a poppy seed roll. While you’re getting food delivered straight to your car, don’t forget to get fries with extra bunny dust. This signature seasoning is salty and addictive and everything you need.
Rudy’s Drive-In / Yelp
Rudy's Drive-In, La Crosse, Wisconsin
Nothing says drive-in like a menu that’s full of burgers, hot dogs, and root beer, and that’s exactly what you’ll find at Rudy’s Drive-In. This classic spot started as an A&W in 1933, and fans of Rudy’s will tell you it still has the best root beer you’ll ever find in addition to the most iconic food in Wisconsin, cheese curds.
Kevin S. / Yelp
Skyway, Fairlawn, Ohio
There’s a longstanding debate in the Akron, Ohio, area: Which burger is better, Skyway or Swensons? Both are delivered by runners to your car door and both serve up slightly sweetened burgers with some of the greasiest, most delicious onion rings and fries you’ll ever find. Fans of Skyway will tell you their Sky-Hi burger, with its creamy and tangy Sky-Hi sauce is far superior to Swensons. And you’ll be hard-pressed to find better sauerkraut balls than the ones they have here.
Sylvia C. / Yelp
Snow White Drive In, Lebanon, Tennessee
Snow White Drive In is a true classic of Tennessee, and it can get quite crowded in the summertime. One taste of their desserts, like a hot fudge cake or a banana split will tell you why this is a favorite. They have all your diner classics, but this is the South! You have to try their barbecue sandwiches and baskets.
James S. / Yelp
South 21 Drive In, Charlotte, North Carolina
Since 1955, South 21 Drive In has been serving classic drive-in fare to the fine folks of Charlotte, North Carolina. The signature dish here is the Super Boy burger, which comes with two freshly-prepared beef patties, mustard, onions, lettuce, and tomato. South 21 Drive In also serves up some shockingly juicy yet crisp fried chicken, and it’s not too greasy so your car seats will be safe from the juices.
Randy G. / Yelp
Sumburger, Chillicothe, Ohio
Like at the best drive-ins, you pick up a telephone and place your order at Sumburger Drive-In in Chillicothe, Ohio. Their signature dish is the appropriately named Double Sumburger; teased as a “meal-on-a-bun,” this burger features two fresh all-beef patties, two slices of melted cheese, lettuce and their signature Sumburger sauce. It’s the perfect bite of nostalgia!
Rick B. / Yelp
Superdawg Drive-In, Chicago, Illinois
Superdawg not only has the best hot dog in Illinois, it’s a state institution. The all-beef hot dogs have that perfect snappy skin, and you’d be crazy not to order it with all the traditional Chicago hot dog trimmings (yellow mustard, white onion, sweet pickle relish, sport peppers, tomatoes, kosher dill pickle spear, celery salt). This is a true tourist restaurant, so be sure to stock up on merchandise to brag to all your friends about where you’ve eaten.
Richard R. / Yelp
Swensons Drive-In, Akron, Ohio
While Skyway has its fans, Swensons is the more popular drive-in chain in Akron, Ohio. There are seven locations in the northeast Ohio area, and they all serve up hamburgs, potato puffs, onion rings, and 18 different flavors of milkshakes, including interesting variations like coffee, pineapple, blueberry, and grape. The highlight here is the Galley Boy, a double cheeseburg with not one but two irresistible sauces and topped with a perfectly salty green olive.
Peter T. / Yelp
Sycamore Drive-In, Bethel, Connecticut
What would a classic drive-in be without classic cars? At the Sycamore Drive-In in Bethel, Connecticut, you can go to the Summer Cruise Nights every Saturday during the summer months for a DJ and a car show with classic vehicles. Sycamore Drive-In not only serves breakfast, special salads, and fast food classics like chicken tenders, but they are best known for their French-style steakburgers. The Dagwood Burger, which is their “final answer to the burger” includes melted American cheese, mustard, ketchup, pickle, onion, tomato slices, lettuce, and mayo. Basically, it’s everything you could ever want.
Philip E. / Yelp
The Varsity, Atlanta, Georgia
The Varsity has five drive-in locations throughout Georgia, but you have to go to the main branch in Atlanta; it’s the largest drive-in fast food restaurant in the world. The location is a historic must-see, even if the food isn’t fancy. Whether you order a hamburger with a steamed bun or a hot dog, be sure to get it covered in The Varsity’s world-famous chili.
Kohleen S. / Yelp
Wagner's Drive-In Restaurant, Brooklyn Park, Minnesota
For nearly 40 years, Wagner’s Drive-In has been serving some of the best guilty pleasure food in the Twin Cities. A chili cheeseburger, fried chicken, and a pork cutlet sandwich are just some of the irresistible menu items here. A true drive-in, Wagner’s features a Monday night cruise club with classic car owners chowing down on the retro dishes.
Chris C. / Yelp
Wayne's Drive Inn, Lawton, Oklahoma
Wayne’s Drive Inn has been owned by Wayne Abshere’s family since 1950, when the restaurant started as Wayne’s Burger Bar in an alley. Like any good drive-in, Wayne’s specializes in fried food, like fried pickles, cheese sticks, and cheddar poppers. The deep-fried deliciousness doesn’t end there. There’s a steak fingers dinner, fish and chips, and a fried chicken plank. Of course, there are burgers and hot dogs too, but it’s Oklahoma! You have to go for the fried stuff.
Dave M. / Yelp
Westside Drive-In, Boise, Idaho
A classic neon sign welcomes drivers and diners to Boise, Idaho’s Westside Drive-In. They have solid steak fingers with fries, homemade lasagna, and a “world-famous” prime rib on the weekends in addition to your standard burgers, fries, and chicken fingers. Of course, no Idaho drive-in would be complete without an ice cream potato (the classic frozen treat shaped like a potato with sour cream). And now that you know what you can drive up to, know what restaurants are worth traveling for.
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