THE EATBEAT: Larson's Drive-Inn has at home feelIf you dip green bean fries into a mushroom sauce, it tastes just like the familiar old green bean casserole that you may be familiar with from holiday get-togethers. And green bean fries are one of the unique items available at Larson’s Drive-Inn, a modest blue-and-white building on the west side of state Highway 18 leading into this town of approximately 1,3000 that’s located about 28 miles west of Grand Forks off U.S. Highway 2.
By: Marilyn Hagerty, Grand Forks Herald
LARIMORE, N.D. — If you dip green bean fries into a mushroom sauce, it tastes just like the familiar old green bean casserole that you may be familiar with from holiday get-togethers.
And green bean fries are one of the unique items available at Larson’s Drive-Inn, a modest blue-and-white building on the west side of state Highway 18 leading into this town of approximately 1,3000 that’s located about 28 miles west of Grand Forks off U.S. Highway 2.
For a little place on the side of the road, Larson’s Drive-Inn does a surprising versatile business from its unpaved parking lot to a modest no-frill dining area if you choose to eat inside — as most people do.
The menu features the usual — burgers, sandwiches, baskets, combos, salads. There are fries, wedges, onion rings and spicy tater rounds.
I also noticed Larson’s has everything from egg rolls to cauliflower, corn nuggets and deep-fried pickle spears. And shrimp, chicken and fish dinners that range in price from $6.25 to $10.95.
There are buckets of chicken to take out — and a promise to pack meals for workers in the nearby agricultural fields.
But what sets Larson’s apart and a tad above most drive-ins is the creativity of the owners, Sandra Larson and her mother, Marlene Larson. (Sandra took over the operation several years ago, when Marlene retired.) They have learned the tricks of the trade after 32 years in the business.
For instance, I was driving home to Grand Forks on June 7 and running on empty stomach in the middle of the afternoon. I ordered a burger. It was made to order on a better-than-average, fresh-tasting bun. It was very good. But I still was hungry.
The waitress suggested I might like some freshly baked rhubarb crisp with ice cream. It tasted like it had just come from the oven. It was topped with an excellent Blue Bunny brand vanilla ice cream. The combination was excellent. It had a fresh, tantalizing taste about it.
I have visited this drive-in from time to time over the years. On my recent stop, I noticed a friendly feel in the dining area with regular customers laughing and making jokes. A couple of motorcyclists in the next booth had stopped for a break and were cautiously looking around. Later, I heard one say to the other, “This is a pretty good place.”
There’s a Route 66 theme inside Larson’s Drive-Inn with license plates and wallpaper showing the route. When I asked why, the waitress told me, “Because we like it.”
Larson’s is open spring, summer and into the fall.
There’s also food on weekends at the DAM Bar on the town’s main street. The place gets its name from the initials of the owners, Diane and Mike Martin.
They attract customers for breakfast or burgers from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday and have food available from 5 to 10 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The Martins have been in the business in Larimore for about a year.
Across the street, The Scoop (originally a Dairy Queen) features burgers, pizza, wraps and soft-serve ice cream Monday through Saturday.
The Scoop, which is operated by Stephanie Johnson, also serves subsidized senior lunches Monday and Wednesday as well as breakfasts Monday through Friday.
State Highway 18, Larimore, N.D.
Owner-operators: Marlene Larson, Sandra Larson.
Hours: Opens daily 11:30 a.m.; closes 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Telephone: (701) 343-2037.
Report card: Food is good to above average because of creative menu. There is a friendly feel about the place — everyday ambience, unpretentious — which is patronized heavily by locals as well as summer travelers.
Reach Hagerty at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (701) 772-1055.