Who doesn't love the Circus?

When we’re planning to get out of town, even for a short jaunt, we always do a little advance research, jumping online to see if there are any vintage clothing shops, classic movie theatres (hard-top or drive-in), and/or venerable mom-and-pop eateries in the vicinity of our destination.

Yesterday, a visit to the in-laws on the Jersey shore was on the docket. Since it was to be a one-day sojourn—down and back in one day—there was to be no shopping or movie-going in the offing, but one has to eat, no?

And eat in style we did at the Circus Drive-in in Spring Lake, New Jersey, which has been serving up hamburgers and hot dogs (not to mention soft-shelled crab sandwiches) since 1954.

The Circus is a seasonal shop, opening around April 1 and shuttering for the winter months in October. You can be served in your car, drive-in style, but there’s also indoor seating—well, semi-indoor. There’s a roof over your head, but there are no walls—only are plastic panels that can be lowered to keep patrons warm and dry if the weather’s uneasonably cool or inclement.

The Circus looks pretty much as it always has (the two black-and-white photos below are taken in 1954 and 1971), and the food’s darned tasty. My cheeseburger was darned good, and the crinkle cut fries were top-notch, too. And best of all, the Circus features our favorite kind of ice in their drinks. We’re not entirely sure what to call it—it’s not crushed, really (though it’s often called that), as it comes out of the machine in this form—but it’s a type of ice found mostly at old-school establishments: drive-in restaurants, soda fountains, drive-in movie theatres, etc. We know it when we see it and it makes our heart go pit-a-pat, so if some knowledgable Cladrite reader knows the proper term for it, please let us know.

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2 thoughts on “Who doesn't love the Circus?

  1. Nice! I’ve been by several times (grew up about 20 minutes north) but have never stopped. Glad to hear it’s worth it, so maybe next time I cruise through.

    • Well, you’ve shown much more restraint than we ever could. We can never resist old roadside stops like the Circus.

      The burger was really tasty, not unlike a Shake Shack burger, in fact.

      If you get a sundae, though, be aware that they go crazy with the whipped cream. And their sundae offerings are regrettably limited (no butterscotch, alas). But otherwise, we give it a definite thumbs up.

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