10 Drive In Restaurants

That Will Make You Hungry

by Bill Flitter

When I hear about drive in restaurants, I immediately think of the Food Network show, Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, which is hosted by Guy Fieri. Triple D travels around America in search of the best greasy spoon. There’s something comforting about french fries, greasy burgers, and fried chicken tenders that the whole family enjoys. Drive-in restaurants started out in the 1950s, right along with drive-in movie theaters, and hit their peak in the 60s.

The sad truth is today’s society prefers a drive through to a drive in. But what about those times when you want to go back to a simpler time or a simpler place. Where you actually parked your car and took time to eat instead of wolfing down fries at a red light. Thankfully, the Thrillist collected a long list of the best drive-in restaurants in America—here’s my take on that list.

Drive In Restaurants

These 10 Drive-In Restaurants Will Make You Hungry

Avi’s Screamers Drive In

Wickenburg, AZ

The price range is under $10, which sounds good to me. And the reviews on Yelp say they have the best, freshest burgers with the perfect meat-to-bun ratio, and milkshakes to die for.

The Original Dick’s

Seattle, WA

Dicky Spady and two partners opened this fast food drive-in restaurant in 1953, well before McDonald’s. You can learn more about their history, and their quality food, low prices, and instant service on their site.

Did you know...

The first drive-in restaurant was Kirby’s Pig Stand, which opened in Dallas, Texas, in 1921.

Classic 50s Drive-in

Norman, OK

For some reason, I think I’ve been to Norman, OK, but I’m not sure why. If I had known of Classic 50s, I would’ve stopped in for a hot dog and onion rings. Check out the killer reviews on Yelp.

Mac’s Steak in the Rough

Albuquerque, NM

Technically speaking, Mac’s should not even be on this list. After remodeling, they are now a dine-in restaurant and no longer a drive-in. However, I kept it on the list simply because they serve freshly cut and breaded juicy steak fingers. Steak Fingers! Need I say more?

Drive In Restaurants

Keller’s Drive-in

Dallas, TX

Not sure if this is right but Keller’s reviews seem to indicate you can have cold beer brought right to your car. I’m no expert on Texas drinking and driving laws. However, you might want to keep the engine off while enjoying your beverage.  This drive-in is on Zomato’s “Try Before You Die List,” but let’s assume it’s because of the amazing food and not because patrons drive home impaired.

Beacon Drive-in

Belleville, IL

Known for its chiliburger buried under onion rings and fries, this place looks and sounds like crazy fun. Be careful visiting their website though. You’ll hear Steve & Jerry doing their version of a radio commercial. There’s no mute button and it plays on repeat.

The Varsity

Atlanta, GA

The Varsity calls itself “The World’s Largest Drive-in Restaurant.” One look at its photos of chili dogs and onion rings, and you’ll want to head right over to one of its seven locations in Greater Atlanta. The Varsity also has a food truck that is available for your next party or event. It’s a proud family-owned institution that has been around since 1928. Way to keep things going, Varsity!

Drive In Restaurants

Did you know...

The Varsity serves up to 30,000 people on its busiest days. This is true especially when Georgia Tech is playing a home game just down North Avenue.

Sycamore Drive-in

Bethel, CT

Sycamore Drive-in features something a bit different than all the other drive-ins: instead of fries and shakes, they feature wraps! They also have a mean-looking root beer float on display. What else is special about Sycamore? They have Summer Cruise Nights every Saturday with a disc jockey, classic cars, and giveaways.

Dari-Ette Drive-in

St. Paul, MN

This place was actually featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. So, what makes this place unique? They serve authentic Italian food, such as fried sausage, meatballs and a spaghetti with secret sauce that keeps customers coming back.

Wayne’s Drive Inn

Lawton, OK

Wayne’s gets props for having the most modern website. They get question marks for spelling drive-in with two n’s, though. (I scoured their site looking for some sort of overnight accommodations, but no dice.) Back in the 1960s Wayne’s carhops did all the order-taking. In 1974, electric ordering was installed. To this day,Wayne’s is known as a “place to drag on Friday nights, a place to meet your wife, and a place to show off your cars.’

Drive In Restaurants

Over to You

This is in no way an exhaustive list of great American drive-in restaurants, but it’s a healthy list. Do you have a local favorite not shown here? If you like drive-in restaurants, you may also want check out our list of the best drive in theaters.