We both had the fortune of growing up in the 80's which means we were able to experience a great mix of what is now referred to by our parents and elders as "The Good Old Days", Shopping Malls, Arcades, Real Music (don't get me started on what's on the radio these days), Drive In Movies, Amusement Parks before chains took them over, Christmas at the Downtown Department Stores and Drive In Restaurants amongst other things.
So in keeping with the "Days Of Yesteryear", we were ecstatic when Jolly's Drive - In was on our list of places to visit.
Whenever we would speak to people in town about where we should visit, Jolly's kept coming up. So we knew the food had to be good plus the fact they served their own Root Beer in a Frosty Mug, it was a shoe in!
When we pulled up, Charisse was skeptical if we would be able to fit the Tank under the carport, but we slid in with ease and took a look at the old school menu. Burgers, Fries, Shakes, Onion Rings, POPCORN!, I kept scanning the menu then I spotted it "Root Beer Served In A Frosty Mug", to say I was now giddy would be an understatement. Ever seen a kid with a $20 bill walk into a candy store? Yea that was me! Charisse on the other hand was saddened, she was on a diet and would not be able to partake in the gluttony that was about to ensue.
And with the press of a button on the menu box I was transported back to the bygone era of service and I proceeded to order food as if cost was no issue! Double Cheeseburger, Footlong Coney add everything minus the kitchen sink, Onion Rings, and of course a large Root Beer in the cold mug please. Oh and a Popcorn for the ole lady, Thank you!
Then it happened, A voice from behind me coily said in a "Don't judge me" tone "Double Cheeseburger, Cheese Only"
I looked back in disbelief, figuring it had to be coming from a car next to us, but there was no car... only "Diet Girl", yes you see even a woman that has been on a strict diet for the last 4 weeks couldn't deny the urge to jump into this world of carefree cuisine. Let this be a warning to anyone on a diet, pull up to Jolly's at your own risk, you may leave a changed person!
In just a few short moments our food was on its way out to us. As the waitress err Carhop (I'm forgetting im dining in a different era) started to place the food tray on my window I immediately thought about the scene in National Lampoon's (The first one of course, the only one that really matters), where the Griswolds were dining at a similar establishment and as Clark went to attach the tray to the window of the "Family Truckster" the glass immediately shattered and the whole tray of food became assisted by gravity in its freefall to the ground. Lesson here, don't be a Clark.
The food smelled great and as we began to dig in, I had to remember to pause and at least try to photograph the goods because after all, it's you cant really do a food review without pictures of the food.... right?
There just seems to be something about food wrapped in either wax paper or tin foil that makes it taste better and this was no exception. The Cheeseburger was cooked perfect and taste just how I expected, not like a fast food joint and unlike a home cooked one, it seems to have the flavor you come to expect from a classic drive-in joint. It was so good, it literally blew my beard out of alignment! Seriously!
The footlong didn't disappoint either, in an era where your charged a premium for cheese and then skimped on the actual amount they give you, this thing was covered with it, so much in fact that when you look at it, one would assume that you only purchased a cheese dog as it covers the coney sauce from "the roota to the toota" (a little southern talk for you there). Speaking of the coney sauce, its homemade and has been for over 80 years! The recipe, well dont ask because they wont tell ya. You cant duplicate this at home so you'll just have to come back again for your fix!
Another staple within the era of drive-ins has to be the drinks and there's only one of two choices that each location has to have to be considered "authentic". Milkshakes or Root Beer, the latter was what the A&W drive-ins built their brand off of.
Jolly's also carries this tradition on in the form of their own homemade Root Beer, combining the fizz of a regular cola and a little less "bite" than other brands you find in a can, it's a perfect paring, especially when it comes in an ice cold mug. The kids love Root Beer and you will always find a 2 liter of MUG in our refrigerator.
Well I bought a jug of Jolly's Root Beer to go and the funny thing is, after the kids drank it all up weeks ago, the 2 liter of MUG is still sitting there untouched as they now tell me they only want to drink "The good stuff that was in the plastic jug"...... Sounds like a return trip is in order!
In the words of Jerry Springer (fitting as he actually grew up not far from here) I'll leave you with a couple "Final Thoughts"!
Jolly's unfortunately is a seasonal operation, so check their hours before making the drive (Which hopefully by now you can tell is well worth it)
The food, the ambiance and the service isn't the only thing nostalgic here, the prices will also make you think your bill was delivered from the decades where radio's were televisions and one never locked their doors at home. This place serves quality grub at prices that almost remove any reason to NOT order half the menu! Don't believe me? Watch the video below!
210 N Erie Hwy,
Hamilton, OH 45011
165 Brookwood Ave.
Hamilton, OH 45013