Bobo’s Drive-In offers great taste, low price range

Bobo’s Drive-In, located at 2300 S.W. 10th Ave., is a local hotspot that combines flavor and frugality.

Leia Karimul Bashar

At one time or another, nearly every resident in Topeka has grabbed a bite to eat at Bobo’s Drive-In, the locally-owned restaurant renowned for its legendary onion rings, tasty hamburgers and apple pies.

Named after Louise and Bob Bobo, the restaurant first opened its doors in 1953. It quickly earned a reputation for having great-tasting food. In 2008, Bobo’s was featured on “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” a show on the Food Network hosted by Guy Fieri.

Although I’ve lived in Topeka for nearly eight years, I was until recently one of the few people who had never eaten at Bobo’s. Chalk it up to laziness, I suppose, and maybe even a little bit of skepticism. I seriously doubted that Bobo’s could possibly live up to all its hype. I recently had a chance to try it out, though, when my mother asked me to accompany her to Bobo’s for lunch.

As we pulled into the small parking lot at 10th and MacVicar, where Bobo’s has sat for more than 55 years, I felt somewhat intimidated by the establishment. I wasn’t in awe of the ancient building itself, which was quite unexceptional, but it struck me that Bobo’s is a historical place. It is a bona fide old-fashioned drive in, something many people my age are completely unfamiliar with.

A large menu situated on a billboard allows drivers to decide what they want from their vehicles. There were no drive-through windows and, unlike at Sonic Drive-In restaurants, no speakers with buttons to press; people simply wait in their cars until a Bobo’s employee walk out to take their order.

We were barely there for three minutes before an employee approached our car. After the woman took our order and got out of earshot, Mom informed me the woman is known as a “carhop,” just like in days of yore. After a brief wait, the carhop delivered our goods, and I closely examined my meal.

I had ordered a double cheeseburger and onion rings. Admittedly, they didn’t look particularly appetizing. The beef patties were on the thin side, and the onion rings were suspiciously greasy.

However, upon biting into the burger, I experienced something that can only be described in polite society as a taste explosion in my mouth. Furthermore, the onion rings were extremely satisfying, although I wouldn’t recommend eating them on a regular basis because they were deep-fried in some kind of heavenly lard, and the only size they came in was large.