Carl’s Drive-In

Chili Parlor | Diner | Hamburgers
excellent
Worth a detour
Save

Carl’s serves a style of burger found throughout the central Midwest south of Chicago and Milwaukee. It’s not unique to this area (The Sycamore Drive-In of Connecticut serves the same thing, calling it French-style); but it’s a must-eat on the trail of notable American hamburgers. It’s slider-thin but significantly wider, getting smashed down hard on the grill as it cooks, its edges turning into a crisp filigree of glistening beef. It is thin enough that a double or a triple makes good sense, as does the addition of cheese plus lettuce, tomato, and all available condiments.

Burgers are the main attraction, but Carl’s also is a source for Midwest chili in multiple forms: as three-way chili and as a topping for tamales and foot-long chili dogs. The thing to drink is root beer drawn from the barrel, served in a frosted mug.

Expect to wait for a seat at lunch time. But not too long. Turnover is quick; and it is mesmerizing to watch the staff juggle cooking for sit-down and take-out customers.

What to Eat
Carl’s Drive-In, Double Cheeseburger
Double Cheeseburger
Must-Try
Note the crisp, lacy edge on the well-dressed double-cheeseburger.
Carl’s Drive-In, Onion Rings
Onion Rings
Must-Try
Onion rings are extraordinarily crunchy.
Carl’s Drive-In, Root Beer
Root Beer
Must-Try
Frosty mugs of root beer
Carl’s Drive-In, Frito Pie
Frito Pie
Frito pie is a good way to enjoy Carl's chili.
Carl’s Drive-In, Foot Long Chili Dog
Foot Long Chili Dog
Foot-long chili dog wants utensils.
Directions and Hours
Information
Price
$
Seasons
Open Year Round
Meals Served
Lunch, Dinner
Credit Cards Accepted
No
Alcohol Served
No
Outdoor Seating
No
Website

Other Nearby Restaurants

  • O’Connell’s Pub

    St. Louis, Missouri

    O’Connell’s is a popular Irish corner pub with excellent burgers, roast beef sandwiches, and famous house-made Mayfair dressing.

  • Park Avenue Coffee

    St. Louis, Missouri

    The St. Louis dessert delight, gooey butter cake, is best at Park Avenue, which makes 76 flavors. Expertly brewed coffee is the cake’s good companion.

  • Salt and Smoke

    University City, Missouri

    With options from traditional St. Louis ribs to vegetarian falafel burgers, Salt & Smoke is a favorite haunt for locals & visitors on the St. Louis Loop.

  • Natalie’s Cakes & More

    Missouri

    The specialty is caramel cake, moist and buttery, at Natalie’s, a charming neighborhood bakery that survived the Ferguson, Missouri, riots, and now thrives.

  • Allin’s Diner

    Saint Charles, Missouri

    For a great St Louis slinger, head to Allin’s Diner in St. Charles, which also offers a wide variety of homemade soups every day for lunch.

  • Nathaniel Reid Bakery

    Kirkwood, Missouri

    A splendid French bakery in suburban St. Louis? Nathaniel Reid Bakery, an unexpected spot off Route 66, offers tasty treats for all sweet tooth needs.