Bobo’s Drive In
2300 SW 10th Ave.
Not to get all Dr. Phil on you, but what do you think is the key to happiness?
The answer is low expectations.
Think about it.
Whether it’s a relationship, a visit to the DMV, or even just lunch.
Want a happy marriage? Pick someone with low expectations.
You know what they say. Behind every successful man is a pleasantly surprised mother-in-law.
I guess that explains my disappointment in the world famous Bobo’s Drive-In here in Topeka, Kansas.
Smack in the middle of a typical ridiculous itinerary, I was desperately looking forward to the only meal during my trip through Florida, Georgia, Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, Illinois and Michigan.
All in 24 hours. Eight states. Six airports.
Yeah, this better be a good lunch.
Word of mouth led me here. Around for almost seven decades, the Bobo has consistently been voted one of the top burger joints in America. It’s even been visited by that annoying guy with blonde spiked hair from the Food Network.
And the place certainly looks like an all-American roadside with car hops and a vintage neon sign out front.
But for my only meal on my eight state journey, I sure as heck wasn’t going to eat in my rental car. Besides, that always spells trouble for my dry cleaning bill.
So I ventured into the tiny dining area and grabbed a booth by the door because the eight stools at the lunch counter were all taken.
To be honest, the cheeseburger wasn’t bad.
It was pretty thin and small, but hey, people weren’t such fat pigs 70 years ago, so tiny thin burgers are cool in a retro kind of way.
But there was more cheese than burger and I wished I’d gone with the double meat patty.
But the more interesting “Spanish Burger” was covered in an oniony tomato sauce with no cheese at all. The flavor was so familiar to me—I just couldn’t place it.
I know this reminds me of something I’ve eaten before. But when? And where?
It took until the last bite before it dawned on me.
Yes. Mom’s Sloppy Joes.
You know. You brown some ground beef and then dump a can of Manwich on it. Instant dinner. Quick. Easy. And so unhealthy, it’s probably a violation of federal child endangerment laws now.
I haven’t had it since my college days.
But it is definitely the taste of Bobo’s famous “Spanish Burger.” Good ol’ Sloppy Joe.
The highlight of my meal was the homemade root beer and incredible onion rings.
Perfectly fried and seasoned, these rings weren’t so much rings, but one big clump of fried goodness. Onion rings don’t get much better.
Of course no visit to Bobo’s is complete without trying their world renowned apple pie. It’s a Topeka institution. This is so good, folks from all over Kansas flock here just to sink their fork in it.
At least those were my expectations as I waited for my slice of pie. (See above about my theory on expectations and happiness.)
Frankly, Bobo’s apple pie was kind of a dud.
A thick, flaky crust on top and bottom and the apples in this pie are diced, not sliced. It was weird.
It needed more apples, more sugar, less crust. Maybe I should have gotten it ala mode. I don’t know. It just didn’t live up to my expectations.
It just ain’t like mom’s.
(My mom may have lacked some culinary creativity when it came to Sloppy Joes, but she does make one mean apple pie.)
It had been 24 hours, six states and three airports since my last meal. It would be another 24 hours, two states and three airports before my next. Thus I left Bobo’s just a bit disappointed.
I wouldn’t say it was a bad lunch, it just didn’t meet my already high expectations.
If Bobo’s was some diner that I just happened upon on my way to a Comfort Inn, I’d probably give it a higher rating.
But Bobo’s is world famous. It’s been on national TV. It gets a lot of hype
In conclusion, my experience at Bobo’s Drive-In should serve as a warning to all hungry travelers—and mother-in-laws—keep your expectations low.
Rating: Would Wear A Free Shirt.