Drive-in burger spots first appeared in the United States in the 1930s. By the mid-1960s, almost every town in the country had a place to eat greasy burgers and show off large automobiles. Orders were made through a speaker system. Car-hops walked or roller-skated to diners waiting in their cars while balancing trays filled with burgers, fries, and shakes.
Decades later, many drive-in burger places persist throughout the Portland area, as well as popular road trip routes like the Oregon Coast and the Columbia River Gorge. While true car-hops are few and far between, these car-culture-inspired places create the perfect place for a socially-distanced meal. An enclosed vehicle provides a safe and inexpensive way to eat restaurant food the way it was intended: right out of the kitchen.
To qualify for this map, a spot must have a drive-in feel achieved by age or by paying homage to the old drive-ins, with nearby parking for a car-side meal. This map includes restaurants with griddles that have seared burgers since the Eisenhower administration, as well as brand new drive-ins catering to Instagram users with towering multi-colored sundaes. Even if car-hops aren’t involved, drive-thru and walk-up windows make this classic model even more COVID-era friendly. Long story short, a place to eat greasy food in a car, a small comfort in the Pacific Northwestern rain and seemingly never-ending pandemic.
The majority of these places serve classic American quarter-pound burgers, accompanied by crispy French fries and thick, creamy shakes. These burgers come hot off a griddle, topped with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and a mayo-based sauce then placed in a soft, squishy bun. For more options for burgers, try this map, and for more places to eat in the Columbia River Gorge, there’s this guide.
A number of Portland restaurants have resumed dine-in service. However, this should not be taken as endorsement for dining in, as there are still safety concerns: for updated information on coronavirus cases in your area, please visit the Oregon Health Authority’s COVID update page. Studies indicate that there is a lower exposure risk when outdoors, but the level of risk involved with patio dining is contingent on restaurants following strict social distancing and other safety guidelines.Read More