Now it can be told. A full five months afterward. Yeah, I know. I've got a whole backlog of burger posts burnin' a hole in my pocket, and it's high time I started slogging-blogging through them. This is the first of two belated Kansas posts from December 2005.
Location: 2300 SW 10th Ave., Topeka KS 66604 [map]
Short Order: Fresh, not frozen. Coarse grind. Thin patties with a salty crisp exterior. Make yours a double
You Want Fries With That? Beats me. We didn't try them. So sue me. Onion rings are an option always a plus in the AHT scorebook
You see, I wanted to visit a burger joint my friend Jeremy S. had been telling me about for years: The Cozy Inn, located in Salina, Kansas. So I rustled up another old friend, JB, and headed west. But this story is not about Cozy. That's because somewhere just east of Topeka and still about a hundred miles east of Salina, memories of a tasty drive-in burger stand in the state's capital came rushing back. We called Caterina, a native Topekan, and got some last-minute directions to Bobo's Drive-In.
Cat, an old college friend, had taken me to Bobo's long ago on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Bobo's, she said, was straight outta Alice, the kinda place where the waitresses called you "hon," with no-nonsense diner food and amazing burgers. She was rightabout the waitresses and the burgers. But that was in 1996, and I wanted to see, 10 years later, if the burgers were as good as I remembered.
Bobo's is a drive-in. AHT readers who are too young, have not seen American Graffiti, or who are not lucky enough to live near one might need an explanation. At such an establishment, you drive up, park at a stall, and turn on your headlights to grab the attention of a carhop (though retro drive-ins such as Sonic may have individual speaker boxes to facilitate ordering). The carhop takes your order and, some time later, brings your meal to you on a tray that attaches to your window (right). When you're good and grubbed up and ready to roll, you flip on your lights again to get the carhop to take the tray away. (I sound like a drive-in expert, eh? Naw. I totally didn't know about the headlight thing until our carhop explained it to us.)
JB and I knew we'd be eating sliders at Cozy Inn in a couple of hours, so we each ordered a single cheeseburger and a Coke after perusing the menu:
Kansas is a state that knows beef. It's a state that knows a good burger. As such, a lot of these small establishments know better than to use frozen beef. Bobo's is no exception. Here was an irregularly shaped patty of fresh beef with a crisp salty crust and juicy soft interior, topped with a thick slice of oozy American cheese. Lettuce and tomato were crisp and cold, adding an extra bit of crunch to the experience while the plain white hamburger bun couched it all in pillowy softness.
The patties are a bit too thin for my taste and were slightly overwhelmed by the rest of the ingredients. I'd suggest ordering a double cheeseburger, which should bring the whole sandwich into proper bun-to-beef alignment. Other than that, the Bobo is good to go.
Hours are 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; closed Sunday. Just don't forget to turn your lights on.
Bobo's Drive-In on Flickr