1440 E. Minnehaha Ave.
St. Paul, MN
Beer selection: None
Food: Out-of-this world Italian food – served drive-in style!
My excessive dry cleaning bill has often prompted me to wonder: Am I a messy eater? Or do I just like to eat really messy food?
A visit to the Dari-ette Drive-In in St. Paul certainly doesn’t do a thing to clear up this mystery.
Dari-ette looks like an ordinary drive-in, with parking spots next to little menu boards, car hops, and a huge neon sign of an ice cream cone.
Their menu includes typical drive-in fare like burgers, hot dogs, milkshakes. Stuff that’s manageable for mere mortals like me to eat off the dashboard of my rental car.
But take a closer look.
The whole place is decked out in the vibrant green, white, and red of the Italian flag – the mere sight of which makes my stomach growl.
No, the Dari-ette is no typical drive-in.
No one over the age of 12 orders actually orders burgers or hot dogs here. They come for the Italian food. Really, really good Italian food.
But here’s my thing… who in their right mind attempts to eat spaghetti and meatballs while sitting in their car???
Fortunately, the Dari-ette Drive-In has a small dining room with a handful of cozy booths for messy eaters like me.
Now my only dilemma was what to order.
Their meatballs on their meatball sub are handmade and deep fried, served under a layer of homemade marinara sauce and loaded with melted mozzarella.
That was tempting because you know how I feel about deep frying.
But the Dari-ette’s specialty is its homemade Italian sausage. And I’m a sausage connoisseur.
For a moment, I even gave serious consideration to ordering both the sausage sandwich AND the meatball sub.
I had my rationalization ready to go—why not, since this is the only meal I’m going to have time to eat in the next 48 hours.
“I deserve this.”
Then I came to my senses.
Twenty minutes of TSA poking and prodding, then four hours in a middle seat was going to be miserable enough.
Three pounds of slowly digesting meat wasn’t going to make the experience any more pleasant.
So I chose the Italiano, the sausage sandwich of my dreams.
It came topped with Dari-ette’s famous marinara and melted mozzarella on thickly sliced Italian bread that was soft and chewy, yet held up surprisingly well.
I’m not saying I’d even think about trying to eat it in my car though.
And the onion rings I ordered were juicy and cut thick—a nice compliment to one of the best sausage sandwiches I’ve ever had.
Still, I couldn’t help feeling just a tinge of sadness and regret over missing Dari-ette’s famous fried meatball sub.
But no doubt about it. I’ll be back.
Just don’t look for me eating in the parking lot.
I’ll be inside sitting behind the giant mound of napkins.
Rating: Bought the Shirt!