Scenic Drive-In

Review by: Maggie Rosenberg & Trevor Hagstrom

Of the quaint drive-ins that we’ve cruised in California’s cattle country, Scenic Drive-In is far and away the best … if you like jalapeños. We love jalapeños. The place has been here since 1956, and has everything you want from a drive-in (except carhop service). Comparable eateries, even some of our very favorite burger places, fall short on one leg of the burger / fry / milkshake tripod. Scenic does all three with excellence. The place has a boxing theme. Burgers have such names as the “Jack Dempsey” and the “round one.” Most famous is the “knock out burger”

The knock out is dressed with lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, mayo, and American cheese, plus crisp bacon, mashed avocado, and the drive-in’s signature topping, diced fresh jalapeños. The pepper adds juicy vegetable crunch and lots of heat — a topping we’d love to see on more burgers. Peppers also appear on the Texas knock out burger, which is basically a Western bacon cheeseburger plus diced jalapeños. The jalapeños play well off of the BBQ sauce and bacon. Onion rings are large beer battered ones, more like you’d expect from a pub than a tiny burger shack.

French fries are slim and crisp, great as the base for knock out fries. These are chili cheese fries with topped with fresh diced jalapeños and diced ripe tomato. All elements meld together well; the whole dish becomes much more than the sum of its parts.

The burgers and fries are great, but the must-try item is a milk shake. An Oreo shake is thick and rich and loaded with the iconic cookies. Even more impressive is a peanut butter and jelly shake: pink from the jelly, and with little bits of raspberry seed. As you drink this thick, creamy, fruity shake, blobs slide through the straw, adding richness and an element of surprise. A Texas knock out, an order of knock out fries, and a peanut butter and jelly shake is about as perfect and American a lunch as we’ve found anywhere on the road.

What To Eat

Texas Knock Out

Knock Out Burger

Knock Out Fries

Peanut Butter and Jelly Milkshake

Oreo Milkshake


Scenic Drive-In Recipes


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