The Famous Westside Drive-In 

Pulling into a parking space at the Westside Drive-In, another famous drive-in came to mind: Mel's from the movie American Graffiti (and later, the Happy Days TV show). Despite having driven by the near-downtown drive-in hundreds of times, I had never actually eaten there. I was surprised to find it bustling even on the coldest of winter nights.

We ordered at the window--a chicken and mushroom sandwich combo with root beer and fries for me, a guacamole chicken sandwich combo with fries and root beer for my date, Louie, and an order of fried mozzarella sticks to split.

We waited, shivering, and when the food was ready, we ran to the truck to eat our meals in the parking lot. In the truck, we tore into the bag of food, which was literally stuffed with fries spilling out the top. We went after the mozzarella sticks first, and we devoured the fried, fat fingers. Then we dove into the sandwiches, which were some of the biggest, sloppiest, most satisfying sandwiches I've ever seen or eaten. Aside from the chicken and the cheese, mine was overflowing with mushrooms and stray chunks of shredded lettuce dripping with mayo. Louie's sandwich was equally stuffed, though his lettuce dripped hunks of guacamole.

Eating in the car was growing into more of a chore than I'd planned for; I had slivers of lettuce all over my pants, and greasy cheesy gobs were plunking all over the seat. We had napkins galore, but they were a sad match for the mess. We feverishly tried to inhale our sandwiches to put an end to the mess, but my sandwich was monster-sized, and halfway through, I was feeling much like I assume out-of-shape competitive eaters must feel.

The huddled chaos was actually fun, and though filthy, made for a cozy date night to the soundtrack of Bill Haley and His Comets.

Westside's fries have a reputation for being some of the best in the entire state of Idaho. I was skeptical but am now a true believer. The fries were fantastic. Seriously. After just one fry, I knew the rumors were true. I was eating the crunchiest, most finely seasoned fries ever. They win the Gelband title for best fries in Boise. Sorry to all the other top shop fries far and wide--you've all done well, been strong competitors, but the checkered flag is down, and Westside gets the title. My aching belly was not totally winning the battle against my tastebuds: I ate and ate until I had finished every last fry.

Exasperated, I looked at the remaining half of my sandwich and thought, "Ye of little effort." I went back to the sandwich and made it through half of the half before conceding. I could eat no more, but by golly, I had done well. I was no longer cold, but with my stuffed gut, I was no longer capable of physical activity, either. And suddenly, it occurred to me how lucky it was that I was already in the car. With that, I opened the truck window, dumped a massive armful of napkins into the trash can and drove off. I know I'll be back.

--Jennifer Gelband rocks around the clock.

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