Our long, winter’s wait is over. For weeks on end — or at least it seemed like weeks on end — we had been slowing down each time we reached the familiar big chicken and the big ice cream cone that stand sentinel on Highway 18, just outside one of our family favorites.
“Is it open yet?” my dining companion would ask, craning to see any sign of summer life returning to The Barrel Drive-In.
As if winter isn’t enough to contend with, making it through a long winter (and pretty chilly spring) without our favorite “Chicken in a Basket” from The Barrel makes it seem that much longer.
We’ve been coming to The Barrel each summer just about as long as I’ve been alive. It’s a friendly place to sit down inside and enjoy the retro flavor of this genuine ’50s-style diner. (Half the time I expect Richie and The Fonz to come out of the men’s room and scope out who’s pulling up outside.)
My dining companion opted for a three-piece dinner — all white meat, with broasted potatoes and a small dinner roll on the side. And since this was our first visit of the season, we were sure to order a small container of potato salad to take home. It has to be the best potato salad in North Iowa, and we always stock up.
I was in the mood for chicken, but not a full chicken dinner. I opted for the chicken breast fillet — tender and juicy white meat served on a bun and topped with lettuce and tomato. When I saw the size of the sandwich, I fully expected to take half of it home, but I couldn’t seem to stop eating this grilled-to-perfection sandwich.
A side of crisp french fries and a lettuce salad topped of my meal. Of course, we weren’t done yet. You can’t end a meal at the Barrel without an ice cream cone.
And, let’s not forget, my real favorite at The Barrel — their homemade Barrel Drive-In root beer. A frosty mug of root beer is a childhood favorite that you can enjoy at any age — and that’s just what I plan to do as this homey little restaurant continues to be a family favorite for generations to come.The Barrel Drive-In
206 Highway 18
Tues. – Sun.: 11 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.