Carl’s Drive-In

Chili Parlor | Diner | Hamburgers
Worth a detour

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
Note the crisp, lacy edge on the well-dressed double-cheeseburger.
Carl’s Drive-In, Onion Rings
Onion Rings
Onion rings are extraordinarily crunchy.
Carl’s Drive-In, Root Beer
Root Beer
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
Open Year Round
Meals Served
Lunch, Dinner
Credit Cards Accepted
Alcohol Served
Outdoor Seating

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