|Honestly, wouldn't you have a big dumb grin too,|
if you had a burger that big?
As a little kid, I would go with my grandma and grandpa in Grandpa's deep red 1977 Ford Ranchero to the local A&W Drive-in. I would get a pizza burger (of course!) and a root beer and sit and eat between my grandparents on the red leather bench seat, smelling fast food and Old Spice and a hint of the pine tree air freshener hanging under the dash. It was good.
Now, of course, A&W is synonymous with "crappy mall food."
Except, it turns out, there are still a few proper, old-time A&W Drive-in restaurants out there. I've been to one on US 101 in Florence, Oregon. And in the distant past, I had been to one in Faribault, Minnesota (the city's name is pronounced fair-bo).
|Get your own.|
I remembered the one in Faribault had exceptional food. And I needed to go for a drive this Labor Day weekend, somewhere that the other traffic wasn't going to be headed. Cruising down to the A&W in Faribault with my brother Noodles and his lovely wife (who needs a better nickname than Noodlette...) seemed like an excellent plan. So, after a quick phone call to confirm the details and a glance at a map, the three of us were on our way.
You might be thinking, "the three of you? On the Triumph?" Well, no. The Triumph needs a new battery and was feeling a little too sleepy to ride, so we had to cage it. I will visit again on two wheels shortly...
|This burger is a thing of beauty. I was almost hesitant to eat it.|
But then I got over it.
The drive to Faribault is scenic but low on thrills, since it's mostly a straight shot through farm country. But it was a sunny day, and I had good company, so it was perfectly OK.
We got to the A&W at an off time, so it wasn't busy. Finding a table wasn't an issue. On the other hand, the restaurant was busier than you might expect. It was too hot and humid out to sit in the car to eat, so we went inside. I should have taken some pictures of the restaurant's interior, but I didn't so I'm just going to have to describe it, sorry. It is old-school. Round booths. Orange and brown vinyl. The only thing missing was servers on roller skates.
They made up for the lack of wheeled waitresses, however, by regularly coming around with pitchers full of root beer to top up your frosty mug.
|It's the American way!|
Now, this is a proper A&W, which means they make proper food. The fried things are fried in peanut oil (best fries ever? Maybe not, but getting there...). My bacon double cheese burger had a fried onion ring on it and the whole thing was pinned together with a wooden toothpick with an olive speared on top. And did I mention the frosty mugs of root beer?
Naturally, I had to get the chili cheese fries. They were everything you could want.
Eventually, we finished a lunch that was much, much bigger than we'd realized, and we had to make the hour long drive back to the Twin Cities very full of very heavy food. It took some loud, fast music to keep me awake for the drive home, even with the great company I had.
I can't wait to go back.