From the Travel Desk: Drive-ins delight during road trip

  • Article by: KERRI WESTENBERG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 14, 2014 - 8:49 PM
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The family-owned JJ’s Tasty Drive In is a classic of the genre in Luverne, Minn.

Photo: JJ’s Tasty Drive In,

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“Great burgers,” photographer Brian Peterson replied when I asked if he’d eaten at JJ’s Tasty Drive In, a classic of the genre in Luverne, Minn. The family-owned restaurant commands attention with diamond-shaped vintage signs advertising hot dogs and cones, and cheerful white and red stripes topping the building. Picnic tables under an awning look like an open invitation (1-507-283-8317).

Of course my colleague ate there. Anyone with a journalist’s sense of discovery or an empty belly would — especially in summer, when the act of eating soft serve seems like a God-given right.

I pulled up at 10:50 one morning.

“Give us five minutes and the ice cream will be ready,” a friendly woman told me, pausing in her flurry of pouring and stirring before the official 11 a.m. opening.

I wanted the marshmallow malt. Badly. But it was too early for lunch, so I left without ordering. I knew from my travels through Minnesota’s southwest that among the hidden gems — the bison, the reminders of pioneer life, the Indian petroglyphs — another good drive-in awaited, somewhere.

An hour later I was at the Shady Drive Inn in tiny Storden, Minn., where a thick chocolate malt went remarkably well with a ground beef taco salad (1-507-445-3414).

From there, I wove my way home on back roads. That’s when I saw the Country Drive In in Winthrop, a 50-year-old institution that specializes in Lemon Freezes, a combination of frozen lemonade and ice cream.

Turn your car southwestward and you’re bound to find surprises, culinary or otherwise.

 

Reach travel editor Kerri Westenberg at travel@star tribune.com; follow her on twitter @kerriwestenberg.

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