What do you do when you find yourself in the car with little ones asleep in the backseat, and realize you’re stuck? If you go home and try to transfer them to their bed, they will wake up. Fact. But it’s too hot to park them in the garage while you go inside to do chores, and you can’t leave them in the car while running into a store either unless you want your children taken away by CPS. But as a parent, any shred of free time while kids are napping is a precious commodity and you hate to waste it.
This is why I love drive thrus: you can get errands done while sleeping children stay undisturbed in the back. Yet even in car-loving Orange County finding a drive-thru for anything other than commercial fast food can be a challenge. Why aren’t there more of them?? Can someone please make this the next foodie trend??? Here’s my list of favorite drive-thrus in the Huntington Beach / Fountain Valley area:
FOOD DRIVE THRUS
Bagelmania – Though nothing will ever truly compare to a New York bagel, Bagelmania makes decent ones, plus several types of cream cheese schmears and egg sandwiches. You just can’t beat the comfort of being able to get breakfast and coffee while still wearing your PJs and slippers.
Seven Leaves (Fountain Valley) – Boba tea, and flaky croissants stuffed with fresh strawberries and cream: breakfast of mommy champions. Get a punch card and when you buy nine drinks you get one free!
Angel Food Donuts – Located right next to Seven Leaves, why not throw the diet completely out the window and get a box of donuts to go with your boba tea? ; )
Photastic – Pho sure, it’s not typical drive thru food, but this one stands out amidst a long block of other drive thrus for offering something different. Plus, it may be the only one with vegan options!
Perry’s Pizza – Sicilian pizza by the slice since the 1970s. Though Sicilian style has a thicker crust than a regular pie slice and is served square, Perry’s still manages to be light and fluffy so you don’t feel like you’ve OD’d on carbs. The service there is super friendly, and they have a killer lunch special of 2 slices (cheese or pepperoni) with side salad and drink for around $7.
With the growing prevalence of smart phone and online ordering, an increasing number of restaurants like Islands and Cheesecake Factory have this, but my favorite spot for curbside pickup is family-owned Mendocino Farms in Costa Mesa. The parking lot is small and there’s always a line inside for this LA-based mini-chain’s artisanal sandwiches, soups and salads, but I’ve never had to wait more than a few minutes for curbside service!
Cal-Va Dairy Convenience Store – Have you ever been on your way home and realized that you need to pick up milk or just that one important missing ingredient for dinner, and don’t want to deal with the hassle of supermarket shopping with tired hungry kiddos? Well then, Cal-Va is your new best friend. Though it looks like something straight out of the 1960s, it’s smartly stocked for grocery emergencies. And where else can you buy milk, eggs, and a lottery ticket without ever leaving your car?
PERSONAL CARE & BANKING DRIVE THRUS
Hamilton Cleaners – Drive thru dry cleaning? Sure, why not! Though it may sound strange, it’s actually very convenient especially for pick up, and this family-run business gets high marks on Yelp.
Walgreens – When your kid’s got a cold and you need to get them meds stat, or if you’re sick and want to get back home to rest as quickly as possible, this drive thru pharmacy is a godsend.
Citibank – Drive thru ATMs may not be a new thing to SoCal, but even with the ease of online banking, they’re still helpful for deposits and cash withdrawals.
NOT EXACTLY A DRIVE THRU, BUT STILL, CAR-BASED ENTERTAINMENT
Though drive in movie theaters are pretty much a thing of the past, don’t forget that you’ve got the world’s best movie selection on your phone! Amazon Prime, Netflix, HBO Go and even your local cable provider (mine is Time Warner) have apps where you can watch movies for free – provided you have an active account with them – using your cellular service. I’m also a big fan of borrowing free e-books from the library and reading them on the Overdrive app. Keep a car charger and earbuds in the glove compartment, find a shady spot to park (my fav is on PCH with a view of the ocean) and you’ve got insta-entertainment for those few gloriously quiet and still moments…until the kids wake up.