Editor’s Note: Galaxy Drive In is now closed.
Have you ever wondered what would happen if you threw the futuristic, space-age vibe from The Jetsons, the car-side dining from The Flintstones, Elvis, the Blues Brothers, dogs, and s’mores in a bubbling cauldron? You’d get the Galaxy Drive In, the new incarnation of Wagner’s Drive-In on Highway 7 in St. Louis Park. And while mash-ups like this may work well in the music industry, the results here are decidedly mixed.
The creative mind behind the revamped restaurant is Steven Schussler, the St. Louis Park businessman best known for his larger-than-life restaurant concepts like the Rainforest Cafe. Galaxy Drive In captures much of that kitsch, from its brightly colored decor to the names on the menu (Lunar Eclipse Grilled Three Cheese Sandwich, anyone?). Regardless if you think Schussler’s establishments are corny or clever, they’re always sure to attract one valuable demographic: kids. And that’s where Galaxy Drive In will hit the motherlode — families looking for an easy-to-please menu and a place where their children can run themselves silly while they wait for their food.
Because yes, if you come to Galaxy in these early days of operation, you’re going to wait. Every new restaurant needs time to work out the kinks, of course, and the initial swarm of visitors doesn’t give the staff much room for error. So don’t come if you’re on a tight time frame, and be willing to wait a while for a parking spot or a seat at a table. If you smile nicely, you may even get an invitation to sit down with other diners who have room at their table. The frazzled waitstaff means well but sometimes needs back-up from managers to make sure guests get their orders taken.
When it is time to submit your order, make sure the broasted chicken is on your ticket. The crispy coating gives way to juicy, flavorful meat, and the thighs that comprise the quarter-chicken meal ($5.75 with fries and coleslaw) offer a generous portion. The accompanying fries lack the slick greasiness of many fast-food varieties — a definite plus — but the amount of seasoning salt could be doubled for the potatoes to really pack a punch. The pronto pups ($2.75 each) received a thumbs-up as well from discerning fans, and the unadorned hot dog’s ($4.50 with fries) slightly smoky flavor was a pleasant surprise.
The burger ($3.85), on the other hand, didn’t offer any surprises, unless you count its general blah-ness. Though the patty was thicker than your average fast-food burger, the dry meat did it no favors, and the thin, lifeless bun looked as if it had been swiped from McDonald’s. The cheese curds ($3.85) featured the appropriate salt-to-creamy ratio that makes the side so appealing, but the overly sweet marinara dipping sauce was best left alone. Like the fries, the onion rings ($3.50) were also low on greasiness, but the underseasoned batter made the rings forgettable. The coleslaw offered a few strands of cabbage and carrot in a mess of gloppy sauce — it’s better to skip it and save your calories for beverages.
Those who fault Five Guys for not serving malts and shakes with its burgers will give kudos to Galaxy for its selection of creamy drinks. Besides the shakes and malts, diners can choose from root beer and creamsicle floats, cones, and sundaes to round out their meals. The chocolate shake ($3.75 small / $4.75 large) stood out for its solid but not too sweet chocolate flavor, and it wasn’t so thick that it was impossible to sip through a straw, while the vanilla malt was also finely balanced.
While the galactic theme may not be everyone’s cup of tea, the fresh paint jobs, shiny stools, and shaded picnic tables are a big improvement from the well-worn Wagner’s set-up, which had been around since 1951. Diners have the option of parking on-site and eating in their cars or parking on the street and sitting down at a table, which is nice for those who don’t enjoy balancing a burger, fries, and shake in their laps. (Galaxy’s neighbors, however, are probably not so enthusiastic about their newly crowded streets.) Dog owners will love having a place where their pooches are lovingly greeted and dog-sized burgers, ice cream cones, and bones are on the menu.
If you’re looking for a good burger, there are far better places to eat. But on a pleasant summer evening when you’re not in a rush, go ahead and pull over at Galaxy Drive In. As long as it doesn’t run out of chicken and ice cream, you’ll be in good shape.
Themed drive-in in St. Louis Park
3712 Quebec Ave S
St. Louis Park, MN 55426
OWNER: Steven Schussler
HOURS: 11am-11pm daily
RESERVATIONS / RECOMMENDED: No / No
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / No
ENTREE RANGE: $3-8