Header photo by Winnipeg Cravings
Whether you’re a new fan of Riverdale or a long-time Archie comic fan, infusing modern life with retro aesthetic is all the rage right now. And it’s easy to do in Manitoba. Pull out your old letterman jacket and spend a night at the Stardust or Big Island drive-in theatre, but not before stopping for a burger and shake at one of these delightful drive-ins and diners…
Half Moon Drive In
When it comes to retro digs, Lockport might just be the mecca of Manitoba, especially since it is the home of the iconic Half Moon Drive In. While this diner is open year round, a drive to the Half Moon Drive In is practically a right of passage in the summer months. The original location opened its door in 1938, quickly becoming known for its hot dogs and burgers. A renovation and location change ( to bring it closer to the historic St. Andrews Lock and Dam) kept this institution alive until present day. Each year, the Half Moon Drive In hosts Rockin’ on the Red (July 14 to 16, 2017), a free family-friendly weekend music event.
How many checkered floors can one community have? Like we said, Lockport pushes the limits. Skinners is the oldest hot dog outlet in continuous operation in Canada, dating back to 1929 when Selkirk store keeper Jim Skinner Jr. opened the stand in Lockport during a depressed economy. Skinners’ walls mirror the restaurant’s long history with dozens of hockey photographs, many signed, featuring greats such as Gordie Howe, Bobby Hull and Glenn Hall, while each booth features a box that plays music from a central Jukebox. Where the dance hall once stood is now a games room with retro pinball and arcade games. Now with three locations in Manitoba, Skinners continues to reap the benefits of generations of loyal customers.
St. Boniface, Winnipeg
It doesn’t matter which generation you’re from – almost every Winnipegger will have some memories at the Dairi-Wip Drive-In in St. Boniface. For me, it’s sitting in the back seat of my friend’s mom’s van, eating vinegar fries and reading comics. The prize for the best burger in Winnipeg is still up for debate (just ask The Burger Club), but we think Jughead would approve of Dairi-Wip’s famous Fat Boy.
St. Boniface, Winnipeg
When it comes to St. Boniface’s retro landscape, it’s Mrs. Mike’s that truly gives Dairi-Wip a run for its money – especially when it comes to burger fandom. But don’t worry, there’s plenty of opportunity to split your time between these two Winnipeg gems. Mrs. Mike’s is set to open any day now for the spring and summer season; so if that doesn’t get you excited for warmer days, I don’t know what will.
The White Top Drive In
North End, Winnipeg
You know a burger is good when it gets a shout out in Air Canada’s En Route Magazine as one of four of the world’s best burger joints. A treasure of the North End, The White Top Drive In’s striped exterior is known to catch the eye of hungry passerbys; but it’s the friendly staff and consistent quality that keeps them coming back.
Syl’s Drive Inn
Quaint is just one word that could be used to describe Syl’s Drive Inn, a staple of the town of Carman for over 50 years. Chances are, if you take someone who grew up in Carman back to the town, they will reminisce over summer nights spent at the Drive Inn, which has since changed locations (as many retro drive-ins and diners seem to do). Today, the Drive Inn continues to be known for all the classics: fries, burgers and of course, milk shakes.
L & J’s Drive Inn
Sometimes, it’s the most unassuming places that have the greatest treasures. L & J’s Drive Inn could certainly be considered a hidden gem to those passing through; but for its residents, it’s simply a town staple. Try the foot-long dog, the onion rings or the battered mushrooms – you won’t regret it! And if you maintain a gluten-free diet and have been feeling left out by this post, fret not, L & J’s also offers a gluten-free burger!
Dutch Drive In
Need a little more excitement into your life? Judging by Ace Burpee’s reaction in the video above, we’d say a trip to The Dutch Drive-In in The Pas should do the trick. As a truly vintage drive-in, orders made here are still brought to your car and suspended on your rolled-down window by friendly carhops. With 60+ years under its belt, the legendary Dutch Drive-In maintains its solid fan base and popularity even with an array of large chain restaurants nearby.
Tastee’s Ice Cream and Grill
Tastee’s was Chrissy Troy‘s go-to when she lived in Brandon, and it should be yours too. This Brandon institution has been on 1st street since the 1960’s (2017 is their 50th year), and has since been busy serving up bison burgers, bacon poutine and the signature Falko Flurry in perfectly vintage style. Coca cola just tastes better in a glass bottle, don’t you agree?
The Kiln Drive-In
Is anybody else picturing Betty and Veronica sipping strawberry milkshakes on those pink benches? The Kiln Drive In in Stonewall usually opens at the end of March – which means tastier days are coming, and quickly. If you find yourself in the area, rest assure that it is the place to go on a hot summer’s day – with classic milkshakes, banana splits and whatever a ‘gumby cap’ is (sounds delicious).
Believe it or not, these are just a FEW of the diners and drive-ins in Manitoba. Do you have a favourite we missed? Tell us in the comments!