St. Louis: Carl's Drive In

Today's AHT reader recommendation comes from self-described burger addict Melissa Graham about her favorite burger joint, Carl's Drive In. We got a reader review for Carl's in 2007 as well, and a shout-out in one of our roundups of readers' favorite burgers. Thanks, Melissa! If anyone else wants to share some burger intel, email us at burger@seriouseats.com or check out our review submission form. —The Mgmt.

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[Photographs: Melissa Graham]

Carl's Drive In

9033 Manchester Road, St. Louis MO 63144 (map); 314-961-9652
Cooking Method: Griddled
Short Order: You will never find another thin and crispy burger like this one
Want Fries with That? Yes, but get a side of cheese sauce to dip them in
Price: Burger, $2.75; cheeseburger, $3

If you happen to drive by Carl's Drive In, you'd never suspect that behind the red doors is the best burger you'll ever bite into—unless you found out through word of mouth. Many people in St. Louis would tell you it's the best.

The deliciously crispy-edged burgers are smashed flat and retain some juice despite their thinness. You can get the burgers topped with Swiss or American cheese, and they come on griddled white buns—nothing fancy. The patty is only about a sixth of pound so I suggest ordering a double or a triple—a double would give you an optimal beef-to-bun ratio. The toppings are good quality, with a selection that ranges from small-diced onions and crispy bacon to the normal lettuce and tomato.

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Carl's is also known for their homemade root beer; once you take your first drink out of the frosty mug, you'll never want to drink a glass of any other root beer again. The onion rings and fries compliment the burger very well. Carl's also serves homemade milkshakes.

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Don't expect to sit down and have someone wait on you. The restaurant is small, with only about 16 stools. It's best to get in and out as fast as you can since there's usually a wait out the door.

Every person that I take to Carl's tries to replicate the burger at home because they love it so much, but no one—including myself—has ever done it. I've searched for the best burger in New York, LA, Las Vegas, Chicago, and Miami and I still haven't found anything like Carl's. If heaven is a real place, there's a Carl's Drive In inside of it.—Melissa Graham

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