Sonic Drive-In announced today that it is opening several locations in Seattle. The Oklahoma-based hamburger drive-in chain already has one in Ferndale, Wa., near my Bellingham home that opened a couple of years ago. I’m familiar with the chain from my visits to the Midwest where they seem to be present in nearly every small town along the my routes to and from the Kansas City and Tulsa airports.
I usually make a stop there to buy one of its thick and creamy milkshakes and an order of onion rings when I’m in the Midwest or visiting my hometown and when there’s no local alternative. But I still prefer our locally owned drive-ins. There are several in Seattle–Dick’s (not the best hamburgers), Burgermaster (yum) and By’s in SoDo (which has gotten rave reviews) among others. In Portland, my friends favor the family owned Burgerville which started in Vancouver, WA. and now has 39 locations in Oregon and Washington. They serve great onion rings made with Washington’s own Walla Walla onions. I indulged in those on a recent trip back from Oregon.
Bellingham, where I live, also has a locally owned drive-in– Boomer’s. Boomer’s has become something of a local landmark since opening in 1989. http://www.boomersdrivein.com/ Although not as old as some Northwest drive-ins (Bellingham also once had Bunk’s but it’s been defunct for years), its white outdoor canopies, supported by fire engine red slanting metal poles, with black and white checkerboard borders and red-lettered in red menu items are classic. I have staged some senior portrait sessions there and love do so. I have even driven my 1954 Plymouth Belvedere station wagon over to be a part of the set.
You can pull up and park at the outdoor stalls, check the menu order board then turn on your lights and a car hop will come out to take your order. No screaming back and forth through scratchy intercom boxes. Or, you can go inside, place your order at the little service counter and sit around the circular fireplace or at one of the tables and eat.
Boomer’s serves legendary burgers–my personal favorite is the Swiss/mushroom burger–and waffle fries. They also have a long list of milkshakes made by hand using real premium ice-cream from Whatcom County’s own local Edaleen Dairy. I go for the chocolate-banana shake but the chocolate raspberry, when in season, is pretty tasty as well. Kids meals are packaged in cool little box trays that look like vintage 1950s cars. It’s worth ordering a kid’s meal just to get the box.
The place is a gathering spot for vintage car club owners, high schoolers, families and people like me who just want to relive the golden era of drive-in hamburger stands once in a while.
Boomer’s is also a ‘must-go-to’ for several of my out-of-town buddies whenever they come to visit. You might want to add it to your own list and help keep locally owned drive-ins part of the American food scene. Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’m going to have to go get a burger!
Where’s your favorite drive-in burger joint? Let me know!