Mel’s Drive-In – Santa Monica

For a nostalgia trip to the ’50’s, stop in at Mel’s Drive-In, at the end of Route 66 in Santa Monica. Housed in a former Penguin coffee shop (and most recently, a dental office), Mel’s Drive-In has preserved its classic Googie architecture, with a redone retro interior paying homage to its past.


Photos adorn the booths, each with its own jukebox, ready for you to select your music playlist for 25 cents a song.


Mel’s is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the menu covers all the classics you would expect – burgers, meat loaf and milkshakes. To show that they aren’t stuck in the past, they also have veggie burgers, avocado toast and quinoa.


Prices are definitely up to current standards, if not a little on the high side. The Impossible Burger, with a plant-based vegan burger patty, was $16.75. At least it came with a choice of side – fries, potato salad, quinoa or coleslaw.


Mel’s Impossible Burger was pretty basic, topped with tomato, onions, sprouts and pickles on a whole wheat bun. The burger was cooked medium so that it was still pink inside, resembling a real beef patty.


Their Gourmet Turkey Burger featured a 1/3-lb. ground turkey patty with tomato and lettuce on a whole wheat bun for $14.50, with a choice of side. Their burgers don’t come with any dressing, which makes it a little dry. Considering the prices, their burgers should at least come with cheese and some sort of dressing/aioli in order to justify the gourmet burger pricing.


The main attraction at Mel’s Drive-In is the nostalgia appeal. Classic diners have been disappearing, so it’s nice that this one exists, even though the food is overpriced. If you didn’t experience the ’50’s, you can get a taste of what it must have been like sharing a milkshake and some fries at Mel’s. Just remember to bring some quarters to play a few oldies on the jukebox to make your blast to the past complete.

Location – 1670 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90404
Website –
Kid-Friendly – Yes
Kid’s Menu – Yes
Vegetarian/Vegan Friendly – Yes
Gluten-Free Options – Yes





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