Stewart’s Drive-In

Review by: Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle

We’re always on the lookout for great root beer (our current favorite bottled RB includes Virgil’s and Hank’s). Even more thrilling are drive-in root beer stands, like the small NJ-based chain called Stewart’s Drive-In. Frank Stewart opened the first Stewart’s drive-in, selling his specially formulated root beer and salty, thirst-inducing popcorn, in Ohio in 1924. Over the years, the chain expanded and contracted, and ownership changed and changed again. Today, the chain is based in New Jersey, and most of the drive-ins are in the Garden State, too.

The funny thing about Stewart’s is how different each drive-in is. They all serve root beer, and all the stores are orange, but beyond that, they seem to be on their own. The menus are different; some have carhops, some are walk-up, some are sit-down restaurants; the hot dogs served at one Stewart’s are totally different from the dogs at another; items are found on one menu that cannot be found on any of the others. Strangest of all, even the root beer tastes totally different from one to the next! We can’t explain it; but given the situation, the trick is to ferret out what each one does best.

And the best thing to have at the Vineland Stewart’s is, appropriately enough, root beer! The root beer here has that perfect balance of spice and vanilla and carbonation and toastiness and sweetness (and it’s far superior to the bottled Stewart’s root beer you see around the area). You can get yours in a frosted mug and no matter which size you choose you’ll surely get another (at this Stewart’s, however, we recommend passing on the shake-topped black cow). There’s food, of course, and what we’ve tried is fine in a drive-in sort of way. The double cheeseburger with bacon more than satisifed on a recent visit, and the fries and onion rings (frozen, for sure) are hot and crisp. There’s one menu oddity here that we may (or may not) try on another visit: the Tuna Rai (pronounced Ray). That’s a tuna sandwich on “fresh cinnamon raisin bread”!

Stewart’s of Vineland is a true drive-in with friendly and eager carhop service on all four sides. There’s even a short, outdoor counter with four stools.

What To Eat

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich

Grilled Cheese

Double Cheeseburger with Bacon

Basic Burger

French Fries

Crispy Onion Rings

Large Frosted Mug of Root Beer

Tuna Rai

Chili Frank

The Black Cow

Pork Roll


Stewart’s Drive-In Recipes


What do you think of Stewart’s Drive-In?

2 Responses to “Stewart’s Drive-In”

Jeff Sommer

June 27th, 2011

It may have been a common thing at one time but sitting in your car and eating isn’t typical for me now. I enjoyed it. Very nice experience.


Christian McCarthy

May 20th, 2009

Stewart’s is one of my favorite eating experiences in South Jersey. Drive up, turn your lights on, place your order, and then sit back and enjoy the atmosphere and all the great food. Stewart’s Drive-In has been around since I was a kid. My good friend worked as one of their cooks, so I got to experience a variety of their favorites. Here is mine: raisin bread, albacore white tuna, a side of fries, and of course, their homemade root beer. Then place your lights back on and one of the waitresses will collect your tray and bring you the bill.

This is a great hangout for high school students. I would go there every Friday or Saturday night. Their floats, shakes, malts, burgers, cheesesteaks, and dogs are the best.

I have met the owner. She is extremely nice and accommodating. She treats her workers with much respect, and it further explains why this Stewart’s has been a landmark in Vineland for so long. Truly an experience everyone should try at least once.

I have been to many Stewart’s Drive-Ins throughout South Jersey. There is one in Egg Harbor Township and one in Hammonton, NJ. Did you know that in other states they actually have men serve the customers? I have been to some where I have actually eaten inside. However, by far my experience with Stewart’s Drive-In in Vineland has been the most memorable I’ve ever had, and it is always the same: awesome!


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