Friday, 28 June 2013 11:27

Carl's Drive In

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I Can’t Believe I’ve Never Been Here

Some 80 years ago, when Manchester Road was still gravel, a small restaurant was built in Rock Hill.  For years I heard people say “let’s go get a burger at Carl’s Drive-In”.  To be honest, I guess I just never thought about going to this tiny little place.

I’m almost 60 years old, and have been in search of the perfect burger for 40 of those years. I’m almost embarrassed that I’ve not been there as I consider myself quite the hamburger maven.   I grew up at Steak-N-Shake (when you could actually see that smashed burger) and I saw the first McDonalds go up in University City.  Sure, I’ve been to O’Connell’s and I’ve eaten Burgers in 27 different states, so last week I told Jane that I would take her some place that I had never been.  I had to try Carl’s Drive In.  As my teenagers would say “OMG”.   This place was heaven.

It’s my kind of place.  Diner style seating, the friendliest grill cook/waitresses you could ever imagine, and burgers being flipped right before my very eyes.  We were so close I could have flipped them myself.

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Knowing I was going to want to try half of what was on the menu, I decided to cleanse my pallet with the home made root beer.  Not really being a root beer drinker these days because nobody has those cute tiny mugs anymore, (old time reference), I’ve come back.  If you’ve never had fresh root beer, it is something you have to try.

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Since the burgers are rather small, I ordered a double with cheese.  Tip: Never ruin the burger by putting a salad on it.  Pickles only and ketchup if you need it.  The crisp outside of the burger was only made better by the flavorful juicy taste of the meat.  No doubt it was fresh.

Always the compliment to a great burger is great fries.  Great fries consist of two factors, hot and crisp.  These were both and to be able to season your fries to your own taste is just a bonus. 

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Good tamales are not easy to find.  What makes good tamales great?  The perfect amount of chili, cheese, and onions on top, and yes, this was a good one.  We topped off our meal with Carl’s Footlong Hotdog that is cut a special way, deep fried and somehow curls to fit on a round bun.  Magical!

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Desserts are not the specialty at Carl’s so we decided to finish up by enjoying some very good onion rings.  Not homemade, but not greasy either.  How do they do it?  In fact, how do they serve this wonderful food at a ridiculously low price?   In all our meal was under $20.00.  Take that “Big National Chains”.

One thing that makes for a good experience in our quest to find great places to eat is the ownership.  In our hour or so at Carl’s, Frank Cunetto, who bought Carl’s 27 years ago, entertained us with stories about how he bought it and has kept the tradition going.  Yep, 80 years ago on a gravel road this “burger joint” was born.  It only took me 60 years to find it and I’m glad I did.

Carl's Drive In, Brentwood, MO
9033 Manchester Rd
Brentwood, MO 63144
(314) 961-9652
Hours:  Tue-Sat 11 am - 8 pm
Good for Groups: No
Accepts Credit Cards: No
Parking: Private Lot
Attire: Casual
Good for Kids: Yes
Take-out: Yes