Eating while riding horseback was pioneered by the efficient Mongols, who also adjusted to reading, receiving haircuts, and filling out their taxes atop their four-legged mobiles. Enjoy the convenience of portable dining with today's Groupon: for $7, you get $15 worth of burgers, malts, breakfast fare, and more at Mel's Drive-in. This Groupon is valid at the Hollywood, Celebrity Bar, West Hollywood, and Sherman Oaks locations.
Harboring a rich history dating back 63 years, Mel's Drive-in continues to welcome the rumbling stomachs and engines of local car operators with hearty homemade diner fare. The bright neon sign, kitschy '50s-themed atmosphere, and varied menu of classic cuisine hearken nostalgic digesters back to times where dining was comfy and accomplished rodeo clowns were de facto mayors. Each helping of the juicy Famous Melburger arrives neighbored with a choice of side including a hot soup or the mouthwatering twisty fries ($7.75) and can be tastily topped off with a thick, old-fashioned chocolate milkshake infused with McGoo's Ice Cream ($4.50). Soak up memories of last night's cola bender with the savory breakfast, including the buttermilk pancakes ($6.25) or stacked four-egg omelettes including the Hangover Five Alarm, which arrives stuffed with chili and cheese ($9.95).
The original Mel's carhop served as the colorful backdrop for George Lucas's American Graffiti, and each of the eatery's subsequent Southern California incarnations has looked to carry on the original pastiche of cozy meals, late hours, and quick, down-to-earth service with their own twists. The Hollywood and Highland location stands steps from the Hollywood Walk of Fame, includes a brick-walled Celebrity Bar, and serves starry-eyed stomach owners until the wee hours; meanwhile, the Sunset Boulevard location sports a patio and round-the-clock service.
Frommer's recommends the Mel's Drive-in location in West Hollywood and more than 170 Yelpers give it a 3.5-star average. Yelpers also give the Sherman Oaks location a 3.5-star average. More than 150 Yelpers give the Hollywood location three stars.
- Straight from an episode of Happy Days, this 24-hour 1950s diner on the Sunset Strip attracts customers ranging from chic shoppers during the day to rock 'n' rollers at night. The fries and shakes here are among the best in town. – Frommer's
In 1947, owners Mel Weiss and Harold Dobbs assembled a staff of 14 carhops to serve passing motorists at the first Mel's Drive-In. For the next two decades, customers partial to automobile dining flocked to the chain’s 11 California locations, eager to wash down grass-fed half-pound burgers with thick milk shakes. As fast-food outlets outpaced the drive-in's once-speedy service, its popularity declined, and it was eventually scheduled for demolition. The building got a temporary reprieve, however, when filmmaker George Lucas decided to use the drive-in's original location on Lombard Street as the colorful backdrop for his film American Graffiti. As bulldozers destroyed the last remnants of the historic drive-in, American Graffiti opened in theaters.
A decade later, though, Mel's son Steven reopened Mel's Drive-In in an attempt to carry on his father's dream. Steven restored the drive-in's multiple locations to mirror their original motif by stocking each with midcentury must-haves such as illuminated marquees, jukeboxes, and Elvis-themed WiFi passwords. The drive-in’s menu, meanwhile, balances period-appropriate fare, such as hot dogs and burgers, with healthy options, such as the Haven’s Famous vegetarian sandwich, two slices of nine-grain bread topped with avocado, sprouts, and tomatoes.