HOME > Chowhound > Great Lakes >


Drive-ins with carhops?

  • p

Can anyone recommend good, non-chain drive-in restaurants with car service and a little character anywhere in the midwest? I can offer SuperDawg in Chicago, or The Penquin in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Check Pal's Diner in Grand Rapids, MI.
    Real chow, with carhops in the summer.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Ed Delana

      Years ago there was a Dog 'N Suds (however they spelled it) in my hometown, Highland, IN. Carhops, hot dogs and root beer in a real mug.

      1. re: Jim Dorsch

        In Joliet, Il, there is a great place called Ace
        Drive-in. They have car hops, some on roller skates...Excellent root beer in mugs and their food is pretty good too!! It's about 2 miles off of I80 and I55

        1. re: Julie

          Ace is on Route 30 in Joliet. It doesn't sound as cool as some of the others mentioned, but it is old-fashioned. It is only open in the summer. BTW I've never seen any of the carhops on roller skates (the parking lot is gravel!).

        2. re: Jim Dorsch
          Dave Markovits

          Funny enough, I grew up in Highland, Indiana as well.

          You have to check out the Blue Top. A drive-in restaurant that has been there since the 40's. Burger's, prok tenderloins, vanilla cokes etc. They serve all year, Saturday nights people show off their rides.

          Romano's (Home of the Hoagie) Ridge Rd.

          Romano's does hoagies and pizza. Real famous for grilled ham and cheese hoagie on French Bread, god steak hoagie as well and malts.

          1. re: Dave Markovits

            I never frequented Blue Top, though I lived a few blocks from it and went to school with the owner's son. I drove by there recently on a rare trip home and saw it's still there.

            I was a Miner Dunn guy. I also used to enjoy the roast beef sandwich on French bread from the tavern next to the Ken-Ridge Drug Store. Schoop's Hamburgers in Munster (and several other communities these days) was grand. And Zel's in Hammond does a fine Italian beef sandwich.

          2. re: Jim Dorsch
            Frosted Mug Drive In

            This is the only Drive in with Carhops in the ChicagoLand Area.
            11541 S Pulaski
            Alsip, IL 60803
            708 371-3383

            Link: http://www.thefrostedmug.com

            1. re: Frosted Mug Drive In
              Vital Information

              There is a pretty decent drive-in just off of the road leading through Michigan City Indiana on the way to the outlet mall (how's that for directions). The drive-in is near the high school?

              We always eat there when visiting the shops. I wish I could remeber its name. Great sandwiches and battered fried vegetables!


        3. Try the Wheel Inn in Sedalia, MO - great gooberbergers (with peanut butter on them) - car hops at all times!

          1. There's a place in Kenosha, WI called The Spot. It's a drive-in with carhop service. Good burgers, shakes, root beer and more. Feels like something out of Happy Days but then this close to Milwaukee.

            1. One of the best I've found is the Mug 'n Bun
              on the west side of Indianapolis (actually in
              the town of Speedway) - on west 10th street.
              It's open year-round. Extensive menu -
              corndogs to BBQ to catfish to anything fried.
              Great homemade rootbeer. Another great one,
              only open seasonally though, is in NW Indiana -
              Valparaiso. It's called Hannons. Probably the
              best rootbeer anywhere.

              1. Well, it is a chain, but in our town, Berkley (MI)--about 20 minutes from Detroit)there's an original drive-in A&W spot--open almost all year long, even in cold weather. Not the sanitized boxy "New"A&W, but has the drive in spots under a 60's flaring roof,cars park at jaunty angles underneath, walk-to-the-car service. Also picnic tables right next to the street. Fab rootbeer--the best on draft (and I drink diet!), coneydogs, etc. The real deal. In nice weather (and not so nice) folks like to drive vintage cars there and park and snack and show off (after all it is Motown.)

                2 Replies
                1. re: berkleybabe

                  Ah, Berkleybabe you read my mind!

                  Saturday night's alright for cruisin, and they even have a special cheap menu if you drive a classic car, like 50 cent coneys and 25 cent root beers.

                  1. re: berkleybabe

                    Yeah, we have an original A&W, with carhops, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

                  2. People reading this, if you ever get to New England there is a 50s style resturant in Conn. called Guido's. They have carhops on rollerskates during the warmer weather and sitdown service inside all year. The place is decorated with lots of nostalgia. There is a gift store(nostalgia) in a separate building. Oh and the food is great!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Steve Losaw

                      hi i read your web site and i cant find the place were might i find the website for this place is it still around?


                      1. When I was in school (graduated 2000) they had carhops on roller skates at Rudy's Drive-In in LaCrosse, WI. I'm sure nothing has changed-it hasn't since the 50's anyway...

                        1. The Dari-ette in St. Paul, MN. Italian-American food (along with standard drive-in fare), featured on the Food Network and elsewhere. Fantastic. Open seasonally (April-October?).

                          Dairy-Ette Drive In [SEE DARI-ETTE DRIVE IN]
                          1440 Minnehaha Ave E, Saint Paul, MN 55106

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: mtullius

                            Dog 'N Suds is about a half an hour East of Cleveland. They have car service.

                            Swensons is a small regional chain centered around Akron, OH. Legendary New York Times critic and Akron native Johnny Apple said they had the best cheeseburger in the country. I think they also still have car hops.

                            Swenson's Drive-In Restaurant
                            18 S Hawkins Ave, Akron, OH 44313

                            Dog & Suds
                            2050 N Ridge Rd, Elyria, OH 44035

                            1. re: stuart

                              Swenson's definitely have car hops,as does Skyway on Rt18/Market street.

                              Bishop's drive in at the corner of Rt57 and Rt30 in Orrville, Ohio is well known for their onion rings and pies.

                              1. re: stuart

                                that DOG & SUDS has or had carhops on roller skates. there are only a few of'em left.

                                there was a carhop A&W on lake erie in vermilion too. not sure if its still there. great rootbeer in frosty mugs.

                            2. In the Dayton, Ohio area, there's the Root Beer Stand, located on Woodman between Linden and Patterson. There's also Wot A Dog, on Route 235 in New Carlisle.
                              In the Hamilton area, there's Jolly's, on Dixie Highway.
                              In Marion, there's a Stewart's, which, like Dogs & Suds and A & W, has a beverage you can purchase in stores. I'm not sure if the drive-in has all the different flavors or not.
                              There's also a drive-in in Decatur, Indiana, right on 33, whose name presently escapes me.

                              1. Chick Inn in Ypsilanti, MI. Haven't been in a long time so I can't comment on food quality. Used to go all the time when the kids were little.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Summerfield

                                  The Paul Bunyan burger is pretty darn good, the fries and onion rings are pretty boring, but they have a nice selection of different types of flavored shakes.


                                2. Don's Drive In Kentland, IN between Chicago and Indy........built in 1955........Home of the Jumboburger which is a triple deck with coleslaw on the burger....YUMMY.....Rich soft serve ice cream, flavored cokes, car hops, too. A real blast from the past!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: KDEEED

                                    This is sure an old thread. Several of those places have since closed.

                                    But I will offer a couple that are still going:

                                    1106 Drive In, Pittsburg, Kansas is over 50 years old. Burgers with grilled onions, homemade onion rings, corn dogs, foot long chili dogs with the chili made fresh daily.

                                    Bobo's Drive In, Topeka, Kansas is over 60 years old. Cheeseburgers, handmade onion rings, and apple pie made on premises. http://www.kansastravel.org/topeka/bo...

                                  2. Chick Inn in Ypsilanti is still open. Still good! Stick with the Paul Bunyan Burger.

                                    1. Kenosha, WI. Big Star. I crave their double cheeseburgers. Good hot beef too! Opened from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

                                      1. I dont know if it's still there or not, but George the Chili King in Des Moines had carhops and even had carhops on roller skates the least time I was there. That was quite a few years ago, but still long after carhops had all but disappeared elsewhere.

                                        (By the way, I am pretty sure that this is the oldest zombie thread I've participated in.)

                                        1. Update. Blue top and Romano's pizza drive are still open in Highland In. Frosted mug in Alsip Il. is closed. Also there is a Dog n Suds in Charleston Il. on Hwy. 16 still open.In Chicago there is Superdawg drive in that been open since 1948.

                                          1. The Minneapolis suburbs/exhurbs have two very classical carhop drive-ins in the Minnetonka Drive-In in Spring Park, MN and the Peppermint Twist Drive-in in Delano, MN.

                                            Minnetonka Drive-In
                                            4658 Shoreline Dr, Spring Park, MN 55384

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Davydd

                                              Daly in Livonia, Mi. on Plymouth road. Was a small chain many years ago, but this is the last one. Good burger place.