Do you need an old fashioned strawberry milkshake — with a cherry on top — in your life? Mel’s Drive In dishes out plenty of nostalgia and a fun atmosphere with some of the city’s most reliable home style budget food, served well into the wee hours for hungry late night owls. As ever, they’re serving up traditional casual American comfort food for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night snacks: waffles, pancakes, burgers, hot dogs, fries, chicken pot pies, milkshakes, hot apple pie and the like are among the choices on a super-long menu.
Founded in 1947, Mel’s is a delicious time warp for a virtual trip back to the mid-20th century. Soda jerks, juke boxes, juicy half pound burgers and lumber jack breakfasts are part of the picture.
In Laurel Heights at the edge of Inner Richmond, 3355 Geary Boulevard (at Spruce Street) is the site of a 1953 original Mels, where Mel’s son was once a soda jerk. as The vintage details are carefully preserved and the parking lot in front couldn’t be handier. The atmosphere is just right for families, complete with kids’ menus, crayons and a table side juke box of oldies but goodies. Late night meals are served until 1 a.m., extended to 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.
Mel’s Drive-In has three more locations in San Francisco, all with an opening time of 6 a.m. daily. Find one at 1050 Van Ness Avenue at the intersection of Geary Boulevard which is open Sunday through Wednesday nights until 1 a.m., an hour later on Thursday nights, and until 4 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. There’s another Mel’s in Cow Hollow, at 2165 Lombard Street, open until 1 a.m. on most weeknights, until 2 a.m. every Thursday night and serving 24 hours throughout the weekend.
In SoMa, a short walk from Union Square, Mel’s is right across from the IMAX theater and a 15-screen cineplex at the Metreon and a short walk from major museums and the Moscone Convention Center. The location at 801 Mission Street is open until midnight on weekdays and until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.