Carl’s Drive-In

Chili Parlor | Diner | Hamburgers
excellent
Worth a detour
Michael Stern | September 26, 2017
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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. This burger 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 is also a source for Midwest chili in multiple forms: as three-way chili and as a topping for tamales and foot-long chili dogs. Continue reading

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. This burger 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 is also 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 straight 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 an amazing thing to watch the staff juggle cooking for sit-down and take-out customers.

Dishes to try
Carl’s Drive-In, Double Cheeseburger
Double Cheeseburger
Must-Try
Note the crisp, lacy edge on the visible patty of 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
Root beer is served in frosty mugs.
Carl’s Drive-In, Frito Pie
Frito Pie
Frito pie is a good way to enjoy Carl's fine chili.
Carl’s Drive-In, Foot Long Chili Dog
Foot Long Chili Dog
Utensils are supplied with a foot-long chili dog.
Directions and Hours
closed now
SundayCLOSED
MondayCLOSED
Tuesday11am - 8pm
Wednesday11am - 8pm
Thursday11am - 8pm
Friday11am - 8pm
Saturday11am - 8pm
Information and Policies
Seasons
Open Year Round
Meals Served
Lunch, Dinner
Credit Cards Accepted
No
Alcohol Served
No
Outdoor Seating
No
Reservations Accepted
No
Delivery Available
No
Takeout Counter
Yes