Also, I noticed a place called on the corner of that same main drag in Taylors Falls that the Drive In is on called "Rocky River Bakery"--I didn't have time to stop, but it looked cute and had a sign out front saying they serve kringles. I have a fascination with kringles--can anyone vouch for this place?
Well this probably doesn't satisfy any of your requirements, but it's the first thing that came to mind when I saw the subject line:
There's a drive-in restaurant just on the north end of town. The sign is a ludicrously large, rotating mug of Frostop root beer. The menu is generally what you'd expect of a drive-in (burgers, malts, floats, etc.) but I was VERY happy with the food - I dig this sort of place. So much so that I was kind of upset to know that this place has been around as long as my parents have owned their lake home (no, not cabin...) in western WI. I've driven through Taylor's Falls for YEARS and had no idea what I was missing...
I suppose the fries are veggie? Very tasty, as well. They do have chicken sandwiches, too...
I'll second that drivein. Cool place. Every once in awhile if you're lucky you'll get there on a Friday or Saturday night in the summer and a classic car club will be gathered there. It's JUST like being back in the 50's, except the waitresses aren't on roller skates ;)
The rootbeer's good, too, and unless they're really busy it's served in frosted mugs just like it oughta be.
I'll third the drive-in for the homemade root beer and the wonderful old-timey car-hop atmosphere. Thank you for the recommendation on that.
They only have a dozen or fewer spaces where they have car hop service, but they also have lots of nice picnic tables with table service (be prepared to do battle with the bees for exclusive rights to your root beer this time of year). The rootbeer is served in those gloriously heavy mugs, although, mine wasn't frosted. It was still fabulous.
A couple next to us asked for their rootbeer floats "to go" and the server exclaimed, "Oh, but they aren't as good to go!" She's right--they just aren't the same in the styrofoam cups.
I noticed the Drive-In had a veggie burger on the menu, so the vegetarian would have had an option after all. (They offered salads, too, although they were of the Chef's Salad variety.) I would have taken one for the team and tried the veggie burger, except that I noticed they also offered a pizza burger. Many of you know that I am on a quest to find the pizza burger of my youth, so, I tried them everywhere I see them.
The Drive-In's version was more of a Pizza Lucy, that is, two sausage patties pinched around a bitof mozzarrella cheese, fried, and served on a bun with catsup, mustard, and pickles. The cheese inside was a surprised and my dining companion crowed, "Cool, cheese!" when my first bite resulted in pink juice running from my pizza burger. The mozzarella is either too delicate for the high frying heat or they didn't stuff enough in it for my taste as it never really solidified into something "cheesey." I was also disappointed by the choice of catsup and mustard over marinara sauce; I guess they were going more for the "burger" angle than the "pizza" angle. Still, it was fun to try. Two "baskets" with burgers, fries and the rootbeer added up to $14 before tip.
Another chowish option en route to Taylors Falls from the Twin Cities is Eichten's on Highway 8 in Center City. We didn't try the bistro, but they have a pretty good deli counter with a wide array of cheeses. If you're going leaf peeping, they'll pack you a lunch box to go for $6.95 with a huge "half" sandwich (on, I think, St. Agnes bread) with fruit, chips (sorry, just Vickie's), and a cookie. The sandwich choices are various meat+cheese options, but I'm sure you could just ask for only cheese. I also noticed they had local apples in the fridge.
If you planned ahead, you'd throw your cooler in your trunk before you left the Cities so you could bring cheese (or, for the non-veggies, some bison) home with you.