Mel's Drive-in is one of those places you drive by in Los Angeles and wonder, "is it everything it's cracked up to be?" Situated on Sunset Blvd, with an outdoor patio and indoor amusement park-like decoration, this is a building that screams "American classic." In fact, I've driven by it more times than I can count and have always wondered when I would find the time to dive in for a burger, milkshake, or a combination of the two. As it's open 24 hours a day, you think I would have found some moment in a day to step into Mel's highly decorated doors. But alas, it has taken me 10 years, since my first trip to LA, to finally plop myself down in a booth at Mel's Drive-in. I hardly expected I'd be sitting with a bestie frenchie, but that's how it all went down.
It was decided that we would do a sort of Sunday brunch at Mel's on Sunset. We'd meet there, settle into our booth and enjoy the scenery around us. Oh, and what scenery it was. I swear, the best part of Mel's is the wait staff. You have the ladies that say, "what can I get you, darling?" and the men that bus the tables in such a hurry you feel like you're in a factory of sorts. It is, in fact, a well oiled machine. Every member of staff feels like they've been there since the 80s, even though Mel's really only took over the joint in 1997.
While I wish I could say that the food was classic American drive-in deliciousness, this was hardly the case. It was all a bit rough around the edges - meat overcooked, fries undercooked and some other random culinary mistakes that held Mel back from his full potential, in our hungry minds. However, we found ourselves enjoying every moment of the scene unfolding around us - from the people watching outdoors, to the extensive menu choices coming out of the kitchen indoors. This was not so much a feast for the stomach, as it was a feast for the eyes.
In the end, it looks like our biggest mistake was in not ordering the breakfast items on the menu. The pancakes looked amazing, as did all the egg dishes. But, I was swayed by the club sandwich and regretted my decision the moment I saw the fried chicken'n'waffle go by, after closing our order. Oh well, live and learn.
For those of you headed to LA, you may find Mel's Drive-in is a great option for late night dining. With the 24 hour open door policy, I reckon you'd see some pretty amazing things in here after a night of partying on Sunset Boulevard.
8585 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90069