Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Busted: Eating Crow, But Thankfully Not Dick's

That’s not a sexual sort of reference. In case you were wondering.

Dick’s Drive In is a Seattle fast food institution, beloved, it seems, by anyone who was ever a teenager in Seattle. People who grew up or went to college here talk dreamily of the Dick’s Deluxe, of miracle of their fries, root beer floats. They go on (and on. and on.) as if it’s the holy grail of food. Stumpy grew up in Seattle, and left home with the standard-issue longing for Dick’s (um, again, no double-entendre intended. Sometimes a name is just a name, even if it makes us involuntarily heh-heh, Beavis & Butthead-style).

Of course, when I first visited him in Seattle, Stumpy had to take me to Dick's.
The thing is? If you’re not 19, drunk and ravenous, Dick’s is, well, rather... revolting.

Let me revise that. I had Dick’s once when I was so hungry that I was about ready to chew on the car tires. And it was fabulous. That burger tasted like it had been cooked by Michelin-starred chefs on their best day ever. It put the finest food in the world to shame. Which, of course, it would when the old, trampled goldfish cracker crumbs on the floor of the car (hey, we have two kids) start to look irresistible.

For my money, if you want a fast food burger in Seattle, Kidd Valley is the drive-through to hit. Red Mill, also a good burger, lacks drive-through capability, and although the shakes, tater tots (yes, you read that right: tater tots) and onion rings at Lunchbox Laboratory are pretty fan-freaking-tastic, their burgers are just too much (waaaay too much) for me. Kidd Valley is slightly more expensive than Dick’s (everything is), but still? Better. Oddly, I would still send out-of-town visitors to Dick's, if only so that they can say they’ve experienced a long-time, deeply local institution. It's sort of like having a char dog from a good hot dog joint in Chicago. Only not actually tasty.

Once again, I’ve made an enormous digression.

Remember how I said I was avoiding the drive-through, despite how tempting sitting in a cold rink made it? Yeah. Well, Stumpy is also toting kids to hockey.

And he used one of his toting opportunities to imprint my boy to Dick’s.

It was a slam dunk to make the kid like it— my boy had played soccer and hockey on the same day, so he was probably getting ready to gnaw on his stinky hockey gear (he may be 9, but that stuff is still bio-hazard smelly). And so when his daddy gave him hot fries and a Dick’s Deluxe, that kid wolfed it down like it was the nectar of the gods. My boy now believes that Dick’s is all-caps-all-the-time AWESOME.

So, drive throughs? Not so avoided.

The photo is courtesy of the Dick's website. Thank you.


michael, claudia and sierra said...

nashville equivalent = fat mo's

Anonymous said...

1) Of course the burgers are better elsewhere. But those places aren't open at 2am, and nobody has better fries. IIRC the Weekly once noted, "If they had flippers, they would paddle in their own grease." Mmmmmmmmm.

2) I did *not* "imprint" him on Dick's. He asked for it on his own. I was merely too happy to oblige his request.

3) He takes a straight hamburger, not a Deluxe. I prefer the Special myself.

Bee said...

Sometimes nostalgia just flavors the food . . . I can think of several similar stories to do with Mexican food.

Bee said...

I've been reading backwards, because I haven't visited you in a while, and I was gobsmacked (some good English slang) to discover that you have to take your son to hockey at the crack of dawn on a Sunday morning. Who thinks up this stuff? In case you need a second opinion, from a former Texan now living in England who has never been to a hockey game, buy the Uggs!!

Meg said...

Claudia- I love knowing stuff like that... even if I don't go. Local institutions are fasacinating.

Stumpy- Hmph. Those fries NEED flippers, given the quantity of grease they're served in.

Bee- I agree that nostalgia often provides the flavor for things otherwise lacking; there's food I cherish that's not so hot, mostly because of nostalgia. But of course I am MUCH judgier when faced with someone else's cherished food memory.
I don't know why I'm so snotty about Uggs. I've seen several examples on grown women lately where they look snug, kind of cute, and their age.

Bee said...

I can understand why you are snotty about Uggs -- they are ubiquitous in the teenage set around here, although they mostly wear the fakes -- but having tried on my own teenaged daughter's, I have to admit that they are really comfortable.

I do think that one can get to the point that comfort trumps all.

porter hovey said...

looks just like a great place!! every town has a joint like this . . .

Meg said...

Porter- it has its own strangely appealing charms, particularly if you're a little bit drunk (or a lot). I'm more partial to a good cheesesteak or a char dog.