BLAST FROM THE PAST
’60s-era drive-in eateries serve up traditional favorites with a side of nostalgia.
WRITTEN BY BARBARA TWITCHELL
PHOTO BY JEFF ROSS
Break out the poodle skirts and leather jackets. It’s time to celebrate the premier event of the summer: Hot August Nights.
From Aug. 8 – 13, if you live anywhere in the Reno-Tahoe area, you will be transported to a world of funky rock ’n’ roll, cool old cars, and corny retro clothes — whether you want to be or not. So what the heck? Just ride the wave and enjoy!
Want to really get into it? Visit these throwback drive-in diners. They’ve been around so long, people who ate there as children now bring their own children, even grandchildren. Ah, now that’s nostalgia!
It’s not actually a drive-in anymore, but it has retained the name since ’61, when it opened. It has also retained the iconic look and feel of the original diner and much the same menu of classic drive-in fare: burgers, hot dogs, fries, and onion rings. It’s won the Best Milkshake honor in the Best of Tahoe poll for the past 10 or 12 years running, according to the current owner, Raia Anning. The shakes are offered in at least 20 flavors, including seasonal ones such as pineapple and passion fruit. Most popular is Oreo, always.
It offers a lovely deck with umbrella-topped tables, on the sunny side of the building, where you can try to eat your ENORMOUS ice cream cone before it melts. Good luck with that! Or you can just leave that to the youths and enjoy a cool beer or some wine with your burger.
3059 Harrison Ave. (Hwy. 50 at Modesto Ave.), South Lake Tahoe • 530-544-6377 • Find Sno-Flake Drive-In – South Lake Tahoe on Facebook.
This place still has the look and feel of a ’60’s drive-in, including the old speakers for ordering your burgers from the car. Alas, the speakers don’t work anymore, but Sally Richards, who has been its owner since it opened, has been there since the days they did work … and carhops delivered the order to your car. The workers still will bring a food tray out to your car if you’d like, but nowadays you’ll need to go up to the window to order. Other dining options include eating in the dining room or on either the patio or deck.
People love the nostalgia, Richards says. Traditional ’60s favorites still reign: burgers, hot dogs, and root beer floats. The biggest sellers are its famously thick milkshakes, which come in 43 flavors. And it’s even more than that if you mix them — if you do, Richards says, the number is unlimited.
1356 Prater Way, Sparks (original location); 4040 Kietzke Lane, Reno • 775-331-6221 • Find Scoopers Drive-In on Facebook.
Visiting these venues, writer Barbara Twitchell fondly recalled the drive-ins of her childhood, complete with carhops to deliver the food. Yes, she’s that old!