Get in loser, we’re grabbing a bite!
Covid-19 Disclaimer: Make sure to check the status of the states, regions, and establishments in which you’re planning to visit prior to travel. Many regions continue to see high infection rates and deaths, while many states and counties remain under varying stay-at-home orders. Those traveling from areas with high rates of Covid-19 should consider avoiding travel for now in order to reduce spread.
I’m not going to say that it makes sense now more than ever to visit a drive-in restaurant because I’m not encouraging you to venture out of the house at the moment, BUT, know that if you are headed out for food and miss the culinary experience of “going out on the town,” one of these establishments will appropriately quell your appetite.
The Donut Hole
WHERE: La Puente, CA
Have you ever wanted to drive through a donut? If so, we’ve got some good news for you! The Donut Hole in La Puente, California, which has been around since 1968, has not one but TWO giant (fiberglass) donuts you’ll pass through to pick up your order—think of the Instagram possibilities. Additionally, with a wide variety of donut offerings—including ones with such toppings as Cheetos and rainbow licorice—you’re sure to find something to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Fun fact: There are actually five Donut Hole locales, but this is the only that requires you to pass through giant donuts upon visiting.
The Dairy Barn(s)
WHERE: Long Island, NY
While you won’t necessarily find a set menu at any one of these drive-thrus (the first of which opened in 1961), they’re still notable because of their quirky look (a dairy barn, as you’ve likely guessed) and convenience—on any road trip, you’re going to need snacks, which you can get at any Dairy Barn. We’re talking actual dairy products (yogurt, butter, 2% milk), beverages, baked goods, and, believe it or not, cat food; from your vehicle, order and receive any of these excellent aforementioned products!
Ardy & Ed’s Drive In
WHERE: Oshkosh, WI
If you like classic diner-style food (hamburgers, hot dogs, root beer floats, etc.) but miss the diner part, Ardy & Ed’s—which opened in 1948, with its servers in roller skates, is just the establishment for you. Note the music from the 1950s and 60s playing in the background while you enjoy your throwback meal, as well! If you leave and really want to take a piece of the experience with you, Ardy & Ed’s sells branded apparel, mugs, hats, and a branded apron.
Juicy Lucy BBQ
WHERE: Staten Island, NY
Not your typical drive-in, Juicy Lucy in Staten Island is the most recent notable restaurant in a trend that’s seeing restaurants in the U.S. turn their parking lots into drive-in theaters. This establishment—which offers some enticing-sounding shakes (“The Salty Pretzel” and “The Unicorn”) in addition to mouth-watering barbeque—is calling the experience “A Flick & A Feast” and is currently planning to screen Grease and Independence Day in the coming days.
Santana’s Vegan Grill
WHERE: Colorado Springs, CO
This sensible establishment is more of a drive-thru than a standard drive-in (like the other places on this list), but it’s still all about grabbing grub from the comfort of your car, and being the only vegan drive-thru in the state, it’s especially notable. Offerings, which do resemble that of a classic all-American drive-in, include deluxe bacon cheeseburgers, bratwursts, chicken strips, and cinnamon rolls (all of which are indeed vegan!).
WHERE: Chicago, IL
One of the most well-known drive-ins in the country, Superdawg has been around 1948 (and maintained its family-run status since its inception, as well) and is devoted to their customers and to their products. And in case you’re wondering, yes, there’s a Superdawg on the menu—“not a wiener, not a Frankfurt, not a red hot, but our exclusive…Superdawg “pure beef” on a poppy seed bun with mustard, a pickle, Spanish onions, and more; and you can count on a side of crinkle-fries with every order.
Fun fact: The restaurant famously omits ketchup as a topping on their superdawgs.