For those of you who want to eat in the car, enjoy eating outdoors, or want the camaraderie thereof, or simply want to go back to the fifties, stupendous choices abound in the San Francisco Bay Area. If you remember the drive-in from Mel’s on Happy Days, you will be excited to know that Mel’s has been reborn. For the grammar experts among you, I have used drive-in several different ways, trying to follow along with the name of the establishment being discussed.
Starting in 1985, the second generation of Mel’s Diners opened in San Francisco. Partially owned by the son of the original Mel’s namesake, these restaurants do their best to send you back to the 50’s while featuring an out-of-this-world menu. Menu items include soups, salads, muffins, French toast, omelet, pancakes, hamburgers, fresh sandwiches and dinner entrees. The dinner entrees include such things as rotisserie chicken, steak and baby back ribs with baked potato and vegetables. Of course, Mel’s offers shakes and ice cream. All this is delivered to your car tastefully prepared. There are four Mel’s Diners in San Francisco. They are located on Gary, Lombard, 4th and Mission, and Van Less Avenue. Don’t miss a chance to eat at this heavenly drive-in.
If you enjoy Hawaiian barbecue, the Hawaiian Drive Inns are for you. Located in San Francisco on 2600 San Bruno Avenue, Hawaiian Drive Inn also has locations in Pittsburgh, CA, and San Jose. These restaurants feature a menu that includes Bento, Loco Moco, ribs, steak and chicken. Served with a bit of the island, these drive-ins serve as a gathering place for local Hawaiians.
Lone Tree Drive In on Lone Tree Road in Brentwood offers an assortment of Asian foods that you can order to take out or they will deliver it to you. Their sesame chicken is one of their best dishes. Here you can find American Chinese, Japanese, Cantonese, and Szuchan style menu items. The drive in is open seven days a week from 9 am to 9 pm.
The Original Falafel Drive In at 2301 Steven’s Creek Boulevard in San Jose is still in business. They have a walk up order window and feature unique vegatarian items and hamburgers as well. There is a large parking lot for customers. And yes, they sell great falafels as they have done since they opened in 1966.
Lastly, there is a San Francisco Bay Area Sonic open at 31187 Mission Boulevard in Hayward. This Sonic is new and has no inside seating area. There are tables outside, a drive through and best of all car service with a car hop on roller skates. The menu includes a VERY large variety of drinks. Don’t ask what they have; to save time, simply ask if they have what you want. The menu includes foot long chili dogs, assorted hamburgers, chicken, salads, desserts and of course numerous combo items. Their french fries and onion rings are very good. The next nearest Sonic is located in Tracy, so enjoy the one in Hayward.
While not strictly a drive-ins per se, you can drive in here and get your food delivered to your car. This will not happen with skates because of the car bumps in the drive-in parking lot. If you visit the West Wind Capital Drive-in located in San Jose or the West Wind Solano Drive-in in Solano, you can buy a full dinner, get it delivered to the car and watch two movies for a very low price. Children under 11 are free and if you park your car right, you can actually watch two movies at once. Surprisingly, the food at the drive in is very good and there is a wide choice. There is also an area for the kiddies to play at, an arcade and some sit down room inside the ordering facility.
As you can see, San Francisco Bay Area is continuing the long tradition of drive-ins. With the addition of Sonic, the Bay Area is even increasing their drive-ins restaurants. The food may not be for everyone, but the drive-in vibe is something everyone should try out at least once. My guess is you will be back more than once.