At one time or another most of us have stopped into one of those little roadside burger joints for a cheap meal. Usually they have a name like Dairy-Inn or Pop’s Burger Stand. You can almost be guaranteed that the menu will consist of greasy burgers and fries, and not much more. In Joplin we happened upon a place that screamed of this type of establishment, but we had been promised it would be different. The Eagle Drive In even has a name that would perfectly fit this old-school dive, but we were about to be blown away.

The unassuming exterior of Eagle Drive In hides its unique offerings.

Diamond in the Rough

Upon arriving at the restaurant, we knew something was up. The parking lot was packed and even on a chilly evening people were dining outdoors. We found a spot for our car, and headed indoors. Once we entered, we found a short line waiting for one of the dozen or so tables. Even the seats at the bar were all occupied. The hostess took our names, and told us it would be about 15 minutes for a table to open. With this many people willing to endure the wait and even cool outdoor eats, there is no way we were backing out now.

The Eagle DRive In is packed with diners enjoying the gourmet quality food.

Hip and Happening

The interior may be the same shape as an old diner, but the atmosphere was anything but that. Servers bustled around the tables, while the clamor of the guests stayed just below a roar. Laughs erupted from nearby tables, as friends and associates shared stories. Near the kitchen end of the restaurant is a bar, which serves beer, wine, and mixed drinks. These helped fuel the rambunctious diners who mixed with the romantics. As we waited to be seated, it gave us time to people watch the crowd. While the mix of personalities was quite diverse. everyone seemed to be in agreement about the dishes being served.

The Mushroom-Swiss Burger is a juicy delight, especially when paired with fresh cooked fries.

Our Turn

The hostess called our name over the din of the other guests, and we followed her  to our table. Although we had reviewed the menus online before our trip, we still needed time to refresh ourselves with the selection. The Eagle Drive In has a healthy list of burgers, but also offers a variety of other types of sandwiches. Pastas, salads, seafood, and steaks can also be selected. About a dozen appetizers tempt guests who may be meeting for drinks. While so many dishes looked appealing, we were both hankering for a delicious burger this evening. After all, we had heard many people around Joplin tout the deliciousness of the handheld delicacies. Our server arrived to take our orders, and I was well prepared with the choice of the Mushroom & Swiss Burger. My 1/3 lb. burger was topped with Crimini mushrooms, Swiss cheese, and garlic aioli sauce. For my side I selected the hand-cut fries that come with two dipping sauces. (More about these in a minute.) The burger had a nice combination of flavors, and dripped with juiciness as I devoured it.

The Bacon Blue Cheese Burger is packed with flavor.

Crystal picked the Blue Cheese Bacon Burger, which is topped with their signature eagle sauce. I have to believe she enjoyed it just as much, since she set about eradicating it from her plate, as well. She also chose the fries for a side, and ordered a couple different dipping sauces. Unlike the plain old ketchup option that is usually the house rule at burger spots, Eagle Drive In has a selection of nine dipping sauces. Our choices that evening were the; Tzatziki, garlic aioli, horseradish aioli, and their house specialty Eagle sauce. Each had its own unique flavor, and we enjoyed the opportunity to test how they matched up to the crispy fries. By the end, we had narrowed down the Eagle and garlic aioli as our two favorites, but the other two were not far behind. As we were driving away from the restaurant, our conversation fell on how nice it was to find such an unexpected surprise in a plain wrapper. It once again shows that you can’t judge a book by its cover.

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