In the age of COVID-19, if you want to be waited on while you dine, drive-ins are not only a romantic, back-to-the-50s way to go — they’re the only way to go.
Luckily, Minnesotans suffer no shortage of drive-in diners, where you can safely clink Styrofoam glasses with your fellow quarantine partners from the comfort of your car.
Whether you want to plan a Sunday afternoon day trip to hike around and eat food somewhere an hour away, or grab some quick grub 15 minutes from home while bypassing the drive-through line: we’ve compiled a list of drive-in diners for you to try.
Dari-ette Drive-in, St. Paul
This drive-in isn’t your typical burgers-and-fries-in-a-basket restaurant. Angela Fieda, who has been the drive-in’s owner for 21 years, has carried on her family business after three generations and 69 years. And they know how to make a good meatball.
“We sell a lot of pasta,” Fieda said. “We sell a lot of meatballs, and pasta, and pizza burgers and chicken.”
Fieda recommended the banana malt for those who have any room for dessert. The drive-in is set up with car hop slots, but you can also call ahead if you want to simply grab takeout and bring it home.
“I’m weirdly fortunate with what’s going on with the restaurants,” Fieda said. “We were made for takeout. This is what we do.”
Address: 1440 Minnehaha Ave. E., Saint Paul
Peppermint Twist, Delano
This popular drive-in on the west side of the Twin Cities metro is known for its raspberry shakes. Try their sriracha fries and, since you’re making the trip to Delano, you might as well try the Delano burger: with fresh mushrooms, real swiss cheese, special sauce and onions.
For more of an upscale meal, order the shrimp dinner.
Address: 115 Babcock Blvd., Delano
The Drive-In Restaurant, Taylors Falls
There’s no better place to day-trip to if you’re in the mood for a Saturday-morning hike and an afternoon lunch. Pro-tip: park on the Wisconsin side of the St. Croix river and hike around for especially beautiful views of the river and rugged cliffs that will make you forget all about the pandemic.
When you’re done, stop by The Drive-In Restaurant (you can’t forget the name — it’s exactly what it sounds like) and order a bacon cheeseburger or patty melt with a root beer float. The root beer is homemade every morning, so you just might want to order two. You’ve earned it from all that hiking.
Address: 572 Bench St., Taylors Falls
You can’t go wrong with Sonic if you’d like a quick meal closer to home. Hide behind the guise of “it’s quarantine season” and turn your mouth blue with the Ocean Water drink or a blue raspberry slushie. After all, who are you trying to impress at this point? You’ve been wearing pajamas since February.
Speaking of pajamas: if you’re brave enough, take your family to Sonic in your PJs on a sunny Saturday morning and order the SuperSonic breakfast burrito. According to the website: “A medley of savory sausage, fluffy scrambled eggs, melty cheddar cheese, golden tots, diced onions, ripe tomatoes and spicy jalapeños all wrapped up in a warm flour tortilla. It’ll sing to your taste buds.”
And, of course, you can’t go wrong with the Sonic cheeseburger, if you’re not feeling risky.
Address: 4233 Egan Drive, Savage
Country Drive-In, Winthrop
The Country Drive-In in Winthrop looks like your favorite coffee shop and burger bar, all wrapped into a carhop diner. According to the website, this drive-in also specializes in fried chicken. This is the perfect destination for those of you who have no idea what to do with a wide-open afternoon. Put your family in the car, roll down the windows, queue up your favorite car playlist and take the trek out to Winthrop.
And when you go, order a mocha cappuccino for the drive home. According to the website: “Enjoy a blend of premium roasted coffee with smooth chocolate accents.”
Address: 802 W. 5th St., Winthrop
Ever had the desire to step into a time machine, to an era before the coronavirus and smartphones existed? Plan an evening at the Minnetonka Drive-In, where you’re sure to see some vintage cars and eat food that will remind you of your grandma’s cooking.
When you go, try a sloppy joe (they make their own sauce and chili) with onion rings (which they bread by hand). Chicken is also a hot commodity at the drive-in — it’s brined for hours, according to the website, and then pressure fried for a crispy-yet-tender finish.
And, of course, you must order a root beer to wash it down.
Address: 4658 Shoreline Drive, Spring Park