The Eagle Drive-In

With its sleek black-and-red trim, mirrored windows, and retro sign, The Eagle Drive-In looks like a typical American burger joint from the 1950s. In fact, burgers are served here – they’re just not the kind you expect at a typical drive-in.

 

eagle facade

Take the Salted Caramel Bacon Burger or the Buffalo Bill Burger (a bison burger topped with a blueberry barbecue sauce): it’s like Julia Child waltzed into a Wendy’s and fused its basic menu with her epicurean sophistication. It’s an unlikely scenario to imagine, but it does exist right here in Joplin.

 

Except in Joplin, Jason Miller is our Julia Child. A hometown boy and New York-trained chef, Miller is the owner of The Eagle Drive-In, as well as Instant Karma, a restaurant in downtown Joplin where gourmet hot dogs are the stars. Miller brings ingenuity and worldliness to the menus at both restaurants, and his novel dishes have created a loyal and wide following among area diners.

 

My friend Carrie and I are two of those loyal diners, and we recently met for lunch at The Eagle Drive-In. While the restaurant no longer functions as a drive-in, it retains its nostalgic charm – and size. So if you arrive during the busy lunch or dinner rush, be prepared to wait, as there are only about 10 tables inside. But I promise that your patience will pay off.

 

eagle interior

On the day Carrie and I visited, I ordered a water to drink (it was a work day for me), but The Eagle Drive-In’s Jalapeno Margarita occupied my mind.

 

eagle jalapeno margarita

This spicy, refreshing drink has made my eyes water each time I’ve ordered it, but I don’t let that little inconvenience stop me from sipping this tasty libation. Other adult beverage options here include 10 beers on tap (which change regularly), Bloody Marys (regular and spicy), as well as a full bar.

 

eagle tap

For an appetizer, I ordered Joplin’s Spiciest Shrimp Cocktail, made with plump jumbo shrimp and house-made spicy horseradish sauce.

 

eagle shrimp

The shrimp were so huge that I only ate two and took the rest home for my incredibly appreciative husband Travis. More adventurous eaters can choose from appetizers like mussels, bone marrow, calamari, and chicken-fried escargot.

 

For my entree, I ordered the classic Eagle Burger, a ⅓-pound beef patty topped with Cheddar and Swiss cheeses, mixed greens, tomato, onion, pickle, and – here’s the twist – a fried quail egg and Eagle sauce (a creamy red sauce with a touch of smoke and spice).

 

eagle burger

A fluffy brioche bun added another story to this architectural creation, and I felt sorry for Carrie who had to watch me try to stuff this monstrous burger into my mouth.

 

Then again, Carrie had a similar challenge with the huge Falafel Sub, which is a great menu option for vegetarians; it’s also easily modified for vegans, like Carrie, by omitting the feta and tzatziki sauce.

 

eagle falafel

The Eagle Drive-In also offers other unique burgers made from lamb, elk, or salmon, as well as a variety of sandwiches, salads, and main entrees like Ahi tuna and beef tips. You can also abandon the menu and go with the flow by ordering the chef’s creation of the day.

 

If you order a burger or a sandwich, you get to choose one side dish, and both Carrie and I picked the hand-cut fries which come with the choice of two dipping sauces. With over a dozen sauces to choose from, this was a difficult decision, but I finally went with the Curry Aioli (subtle and creamy) and the Wasabi Aioli (lively, yet not overpowering).

 

If the temperatures outside had been warmer, we would have eaten at one of The Eagle Drive-In’s picnic tables. I like seeing Joplin restaurants adding outdoor dining spaces. We have a pretty nice climate here (compared to Chicago, where I grew up), and I always look for places where I can be outside while I eat.

 

eagle sign

The Eagle Drive-In may look like a typical retro drive-in, but it will surprise you with its creative gourmet menu items. It just might become your new regular hangout.

 

The Eagle Drive-In is located at 4224 Hearnes Boulevard in Joplin. Click here to visit its website, and click here to find out what the daily special is on its Facebook page.

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.

Instant Karma

When Instant Karma opened its doors a decade ago, it was branded as a restaurant that served gourmet hot dogs. But the restaurant’s chef and owner, Jason Miller – who is constantly inventing new dishes that we never knew we could live without – has expanded the menu over time, offering something for virtually every palate.

 instant karma interior

The vibe that Miller has created at Instant Karma can be described as quirky with a conscience, like a world sprung forth from the imagination of Dr. Seuss, where Miller plays the roles of both Sam-I-Am (persistently trying to get the protagonist to eat something new and unusual like green eggs and ham) and The Lorax (diligently advocating for the environment, which Miller does in several ways, such as sourcing food from local farms, and using cloth napkins and biodegradable straws). 

 

instant karma salt and pepper

 

The Menu

 

There’s a nice variety of menu items to choose from at Instant Karma. Of course, you can still order a gourmet hot dog here; choose the locally sourced pork option, or the vegan dog. Top it with whatever you like, or try one of Miller’s eclectic creations, like The Turning Japanese: a bacon-wrapped dog topped with sautéed pineapple, scallions, and teriyaki sauce.

 

A popular vegetarian option is The Volkswagen Bus: a vegan dog topped with vegan chili and either ranch slaw or bleu cheese slaw. Even if you don’t pick this as your meal, be sure to order a side dish of the bleu cheese slaw because this stuff is heavenly! I usually order my dog topped with the slaw and a drizzle of sriracha.

 instant karma bio

If you have a hankering for a burger, you can choose from several types here, too, from a ⅓-pound ground beef burger (top it with delicious Karma sauce for a favor explosion), to the whimsical Doughnut Burger

 

instant karma donut burger

…to the Salmon BLT Burger, to The Impossible Burger, a plant-based burger topped with vegan cheese, which is what I ordered when I recently dined here for lunch with my friend Carrie.

 

instant karma impossible burger

It tasted and looked (see the red center?) so much like a traditional beef burger that I convinced my meat-loving husband Travis to try it for dinner a few days later, and he loved it as much as I did.

 

 

In addition to hot dogs and burgers, Instant Karma’s menu (see bottom of post) includes sandwiches, salads, and hearty entrees like Chicken & Waffles, and Impossible Meatloaf & Mash, a vegan option which Carrie ordered (she told me she’d been craving it all week). This generous portion of vegan meatloaf was served with red-skinned mashed potatoes and oven-roasted broccoli.

 

instant karma impossible meatloaf

Carrie offered me a bite of her meatloaf to try. I admit I was hesitant to do so, having experienced a traumatic meatloaf experience in my childhood. My sister, who is 12 years older than me, was babysitting and served meatloaf for dinner. But she failed to cook it all the way through. Eating undercooked meatloaf is not something that one easily forgets, but Instant Karma’s vegan version was so delicious that I’ve reconsidered my opinion of meatloaf – at least the plant-based kind. 

 

The Brews

 

Not only is Instant Karma a great place to eat, it’s also a prime spot for sampling local craft beer.

 

instant karma beer on tap

The daily beer menu is featured on a monitor located next to the bar.

 

instant karma untapped

I spent several minutes squinting and focusing on the monitor from across the room before I realized that I could download the Untappd app on my phone and see the beer menu up close. Just now, I opened up the app and saw that there are 21 draft beers offered at Instant Karma today. That’s quite a variety!

 instant karma bar

From local beer to unexpected food pairings, there’s always something new to try at Instant Karma. Would you be open to trying one of Miller’s wildly imaginative Texas Chainsaw Massa-Curd Burgers, topped with melted cheese curds and brown gravy? 

 

You do not like them.

So you say.

Try them! Try them!

And you may.

Try them and you may I say.

 

 

Instant Karma is located at 527 South Main Street in Joplin. Delivery is available through Bite Squad. Click here to visit Instant Karma’s Facebook page.

 

Here are photos of the menu:

instant karma menu 1

instant karma menu 2

 

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.

 

This post was updated on 6/27/19.