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The '50s are alive and tasty at Gate City’s Hob-Nob Drive In

Mystery Diner • Updated Apr 3, 2019 at 5:23 PM

Lately, my friend the Carnivore has been immersing himself in nostalgia. One symptom of this immersion is that he seeks out classic neighborhood restaurants and drive-ins. If he likes the place, the rest of the dine-around bunch join him on a return trip, as we did recently with a road trip to visit Gate City, Virginia’s, Hob-Nob Drive In.

The Hob-Nob Drive In is an old-timey drive-in restaurant in every sense of the word. Owner Ross Jenkins’ grandparents built the restaurant in 1953, and judging by the crowd of diners inside and the line out Hob-Nob’s front door, its reputation for good eating is still going strong. There’s seating for about 60 inside past the very busy take-out counter just inside the front door, and ending with a well-stocked salad bar at the back of the restaurant. After a short wait, head-of-house Devonne found the dine-around bunch and I seating for our supper. After our server Tori had gone to fill our drinks orders, the five of us settled in for a study of the Hob-Nob Drive In’s menu.

Cheeseburger with fries: The Retiree asked our server Tori to bring her a Hob-Nob Drive In classic cheeseburger ($3.45) with a side order of their French fries ($1.80) and some of their home made coleslaw ($1.55). Here, the Hob-Nob kitchen takes a quarter pound of 100% beef, grills it topped with a slice of American cheese, then adds tomato, onion, dill pickle chips, yellow mustard and a fresh hamburger bun, then serves it up with some good French fries. All our well-travelled friend needed for perfection on her plate was some ketchup for her fries.

Double Bacon cheeseburger with curly fries: My dining partner liked what the Retiree had ordered, though her hunger could only be satisfied with a Hob-Nob double bacon cheeseburger ($6.75). This means that her burger bun was filled not with one but two quarter-pound 100% beef patties each sporting a slice of melted American cheese and topped with two slices of center-cut bacon. There was some sliced tomato, onion, mustard and lettuce present to complete the stack. The pile of Hob-Nob curly fries ($2.45) were the right choice to accompany my dining partner’s double cheeseburger, extra crispy and golden brown.

Super Double bacon cheeseburger with fries: Immersed in the Hob-Nob Drive In’s ’50s-era ambience, the Carnivore ordered Hob Nob’s version of a favorite from his youth, their Super Double Bacon Cheeseburger ($8.50) with a side order of French fries ($1.80). The quarter-pound patties are upgraded to one third pound each, then topped with two slices of American cheese, tomato, onion, lettuce, mayonnaise and six slices of bacon. Including the fries stacked on his plate, my meat-eating friend had a meal hearty enough to fuel several hours of sustained physical labor.

Soup beans with coleslaw and cornbread: The Dieter’s vegetarian kick led her to choose a bowl of Hob-Nob Drive In’s soup beans with cornbread muffins ($3.10) and their coleslaw ($1.55), our friend sharing it around the table. My portion of the soup beans was seasoned just the way I liked it and delicious. Crumbling one of the cornbread muffins into the soup beans with a spoonful of coleslaw added made it even better. Our friend spent the rest of the meal enjoying every slurp of her creation along with bites from the remaining cornbread muffin.

Hamburger steak, baked potato and salad: Not being in a cheeseburger or soup bean mood, I wanted to see how Hob-Nob Drive In’s kitchen would handle a dinner entrée, ordering a hamburger steak with baked potato ($7.85) plus a trip to the salad bar ($0.99). Though somewhat limited in selection, Hob-Nob Drive In’s salad bar has a good variety of salad items that are properly chilled and fresh. My hamburger steak was a half-pound of coarsely-chopped flank steak grilled medium well. Fresh and properly baked, all my potato needed was some ranch dressing from the salad bar. Very nice indeed.

And for dessert: If you are dining at a ’50s-era drive-in, you are obligated to finish your meal with some sort of dessert that involves consumption of ice cream. I enjoyed a Hob-Nob Drive In 12-ounce chocolate milkshake ($2) so thick and creamy I could turn the cup upside down and not spill it. My dining partner chose a “small” strawberry sundae ($1.75) that filled a 12-ounce cup to the brim with strawberry ice cream, covered with “wet walnuts” topping, plus whipped cream, chocolate syrup and a cherry on top. Meanwhile the Retiree, Dieter and the Carnivore were splitting one of Hob-Nob Drive In’s classic banana splits ($5.50), a dessert so big and luscious it has to be seen (and tasted) to be believed.

The bottom line: The Hob-Nob Drive In is a throwback to an earlier era where good food wasn’t “fast” at all, and you could enjoy both the company of good friends and a well-prepared meal at the same time, and pay a fair price for the privilege. If you and your fellow diners would like to find some nostalgia of your own, you’ll need to visit Gate City’s Hob-Nob Drive In. Believe me, it is worth the trip.

The Hob-Nob Drive In is “Recommended” by the Mystery Diner.

Hob-Nob Drive In

2256 Daniel Boone Road

Gate City, Virginia

276-452-4538

Daily except Monday, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Available on Facebook

Credit cards accepted

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