What makes a drive-in restaurant great? The food must be good, of course, but there's also the authenticity and nostalgia factor. It helps if business is good, so drive-ins that have a long tradition in the community will do well on this list. Sure, it's subjective, but aren't all such rankings? The thing I noticed is that most of the 50 best drive-ins aren't in urban areas, in fact, the overwhelming majority are in small towns, where people rely on their vehicles and support local businesses for decades. And the ones in cities often have their own specialized clientele, like the Varsity in Atlanta.
If you’re looking for a chili dog in the ATL, the call of Varsity’s signature "What’ll ya have?" is too hard to resist. When it opened in 1928, Varsity was a small hot dog stand located near Georgia Tech University, perfect for college kids to pop in for a cheap bite. Today, it’s a sprawling restaurant that can accommodate 800 people inside and 600 cars, and the carhops still don paper caps while delivering Frosted Orange milkshakes and slaw dogs to the masses.