Friday, July 15, 2011

Review of El's Drive In, Morehead City

            Every year, when we travel to Atlantic Beach, I read reviews of the restaurants in the area.  And, every year, I consistently read people raving about El’s Drive-In in Morehead City.  I’ve seen it called “classic” and “a definite must” but honestly, I thought it was just a classic tourist trap. 
            Yes, El’s has been exactly as it is since the 1959, which I suppose makes it an institution? I think it's just a classic, old school drive-in. (And by drive in, it's more of a drive up and park.)  When you pull into their parking lot, it is unmarked, making for chaotic parking all around.  Cars are parked in all directions with no discernible pattern.  After about ten minutes, one of the two waitresses came over to the car and took our order.
            Since they have a reputation for having an amazingly fresh Shrimpburger, we ordered two Super Shrimpburgers and a side of Chili-Cheese Fries.  The reason why it is a Super Shrimpburger is because of the size.  The normal Shrimpburger is on a typical hamburger bun, while the Super is on a sandwich bun that is larger. 
            About fifteen minutes later, our food was delivered to our car.  With the addition of two sodas, the bill came to about $17 dollars.  Now, we were ready to try the famous Super Shrimpburger.  The shrimp were fried, but rather small in size. I'd call them popcorn shrimp.  They claim to be locally caught shrimp, and they tasted very fresh.  On top, were ketchup and coleslaw.  (Megan's was plain as she doesn't eat either.) That was the Super Shrimpburger. The end.
        Basically, it was good, but nothing spectacular.  I definitely built up this burger (in my head) to a far greater extent than it deserves.  Perhaps their hamburgers or hotdogs would be better, but given the raving reviews on only the Shrimpburger, I doubt it. 
            Our Chili-cheese fries were undercooked and sloppy. They were in no way golden brown, in fact they were quite mushy.  The cheese definitely was a mass produced, cheese-whiz like product that was used sparingly.  The chili was very subpar and flavorless.  I tend to think of chili as a thick, hearty food, but this was merely beans and meat drowned in a thin, brown, watery consistency.  After about five fries total, Megan and I were both done with them and tossed some to the numerous seagulls that always seem to be present at El’s. (I guess it beats sandwich crusts on the beach?)
            While, I know El’s is a local, almost historic, establishment in Morehead City, we won’t be visiting it again.  The food and experience was very uninspiring.  Part of me hopes we were just there on a bad day, but on Saturday, the week before the fourth of July, I sincerely doubt it.  But regardless of its tourist trap characteristics, I get the feeling people will keep going to El’s due to the novelty of eating in your car.

Scale 1-5 stars
Food Quality
Food Creativity
Value for the price

El's Drive-In on Urbanspoon

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