KOOL APRIL BITES: 8 CLASSIC REDDING RESTAURANTS FOR CLASSIC CAR FANS
Are you a classic car enthusiast looking for some quality fuel? Look no further than Redding, California, where Kool April Nites brings together car enthusiasts from all over the country.
But where can you find the best eats to complement your appreciation of vintage cars? We’ve got you covered with this guide to eight classic Redding restaurants.
From mouth-watering burgers to the best Tex-Mex in town, we’ll take you on a tour of eateries that have stood the test of time. Get ready to rev up your taste buds and discover the perfect spot to refuel during Kool April Nites!
Classic Dining Options Established in 1979 or Earlier
1) Jack’s Grill: Serving Classic American Fare Since 1938
Located in the heart of downtown Redding, Jack’s Grill has been serving up classic American cuisine for over 80 years. The history of the building dates back to 1935, when it was originally a second-hand store before becoming a bar. In 1938, Jack Young—a World War I Vet flying ace—opened the doors, which was the start of becoming a popular spot for locals and visitors.
The restaurant has preserved much of its original charm, including the original bar and wood paneling. As they say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” so Jack’s has resisted the temptation to modernize the restaurant.
Vintage photos and artifacts adorn the walls, showcasing the rich history of the establishment. One painting pays homage to an inebriated customer, fresh from an overnight stint in hail, who was so infuriated by the sight of the badge-wearing lawman in the painting that he pulled out a pistol and shot the picture five times. All five bullets hit within four inches of the badge and left holes in the wall behind the painting that were not discovered for 40 years.
Jack’s Grill offers a variety of classic dishes, including chicken, seafood, and burgers. But, if you’re going to Jack’s, it is most likely for the USDA choice steaks. Their famous 16-oz cut has been on the menu for more than 70 years and was a go-to for miners and construction workers after a strenuous 16-hour day.
2) Lulu’s Eating & Drinking Establishment: Classic American Fare
Lulu’s Eating & Drinking Establishment is a must-stop spot for classic diner fans. This iconic eatery has served up burgers, sandwiches, and traditional American dishes to hungry customers since 1960. The interior boasts a stylish retro vibe, complete with vintage decor.
For Merle Haggard fans, have a seat in the corner window booth (table #3) and order up like Merle: Six dollar cakes with sausage links, two poached eggs, rye toast, and—if you still have room—try the deep-fried oysters.
RELATED: Lulu’s Restaurant Staff Remembers Merle Haggard
Locals rave about Lulu’s famous hot pastrami sandwich and juicy burgers. There are also plenty of other options, including salads, soups, and hearty dinner plates. And, of course, no classic American meal is complete without a side of fries or onion rings. Plant-based diners will be happy to know that Lulu’s also offers a garden burger.
3) Dude’s Drive-Inn: Serving Up Burgers & Fries for Over 50 Years
Dude’s Drive-Inn is a true classic in Redding, with a history that dates back to 1969. The menu features all the classic American fare you could want—juicy burgers, crispy gems, and milkshakes that will have you feeling like a kid again. It’s the perfect spot to grab a quick bite or enjoy a casual meal with friends and family.
But what really sets Dude’s Drive-Inn apart is the atmosphere. With its retro decor and friendly staff, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time to the golden age of drive-ins. Whether you’re a classic car enthusiast or simply looking for a taste of nostalgia, Dude’s Drive-Inn is the place to be.
4) Bartels Giant Burger: A Redding Institution Since 1975
If you’re looking for a burger joint with a bit of history, Bartels Giant Burger is the place. Since 1975, this Redding institution has been serving up burgers and fries to hungry locals and visitors.
The menu is straightforward and classic, with burgers, hot dogs, malts, and shakes as the main attractions. But don’t let the simplicity fool you—these burgers are seriously delicious. For vegetarians, give the garden burger a try.
The atmosphere at Bartels is laid-back and friendly, with a vintage vibe that fits right in with the classic cars cruising by. Order at the counter and take a seat inside or grab a spot on the patio. And don’t forget to try the frosties and floats—they’re some of the best in town.
5) Post Office Saloon & Grill: Classic Pub Grub
One restaurant sure to take you back in time is the Post Office Saloon & Grill. This historic building, originally built in 1874, served as the town’s post office until 1933. Today, it’s a popular spot for anyone looking for some pub grub in a unique setting.
The menu offers classics like halibut fish and chips, the Post Office burger, and French dips, perfect for fueling up before hitting the car show. No meat? No problem. Order the veggie burger with a side of fries. But the real draw is the ambiance, with vintage decor and old-timey saloon vibes. It’s the kind of place you can imagine cowboys and outlaws stopping by for a drink or a bite to eat.
As you enjoy your meal, take a moment to appreciate the history of the building and the area. The walls are adorned with vintage photos and artifacts, adding to the overall experience.
Whether you’re a history buff or just looking for a unique dining experience, the Post Office Saloon & Grill is a must-visit during Kool April Nites.
6) Tortilla Flats: Tex-Mex Eats Since 1978
If you’re in the mood for some Tex-Mex cuisine, stop in at Tortilla Flats—the oldest Mexican restaurant in Redding. This classic restaurant has been serving up delicious dishes since 1978.
The menu is packed with all the Tex-Mex favorites, including burritos, tacos, enchiladas, and more. The portions are generous, and the prices are reasonable, making it a great spot for families or anyone looking for a filling meal.
But the food isn’t the only reason to stop by Tortilla Flats. The atmosphere is lively and welcoming, with bright decor and a friendly staff. And if you’re lucky, you might even catch some live music while you dine.
7) Giff’s Steakburger: Juicy Steaks and Top-Notch Burgers
If you’re a fan of classic burgers and steaks, you simply can’t miss out on Giff’s Steakburger. This beloved Redding restaurant has been serving up juicy burgers and top-notch steaks since earning a reputation as one of the best spots in town for hearty, satisfying fare. When Giff’s owner Dick Blake was asked about the popularity of his restaurant, he shared, “I serve quality food and they like me. They like the B.S. I give them.”
Read more about Giff’s: Celebrating 40 years behind grill.
Whether you’re in the mood for a classic cheeseburger or a perfectly cooked sirloin, Giff’s Steakburger has you covered. Their menu is full of delicious options, all made with high-quality ingredients.
This cozy spot is the perfect place to relax and unwind after a long day of exploring the town’s classic car scene.
8) Damburger: A Redding Staple Since 1979
One thing that has remained constant in Redding’s evolving food scene is Damburger. Since 1979, this iconic restaurant has been serving up delicious burgers and classic diner fare. What sets Damburger apart is its unapologetic adherence to tradition. The menu hasn’t changed much over the years, but that’s exactly what makes it so special.
The atmosphere is cozy and nostalgic, with plenty of vintage memorabilia on display. It’s the kind of place where you feel like you’re stepping back in time. The staff is friendly and welcoming, making you feel like a regular—even if it’s your first visit.
What’s truly impressive about Damburger is its staying power. After over 40 years in business, the restaurant is still going strong. It’s a testament to the quality of its food and the loyalty of its customers.
Honorable Mention: Pop’s 50’s Place
For catching a classic vibe, don’t miss Pop’s 50’s Place, a local Redding icon that has been the site of Kool April Nites show & shines and family gatherings.
The Triplett family—owners of Pop’s 50’s Place—are currently working to re-open their beloved family business after a fire unfortunately forced them to close on April 11, 2023.
To support the family and help get Pop’s 50’s Place back up and running, please donate here.
Timeless Eats: Savor Redding’s Historic Restaurants
Kool April Bites offers classic car fans the perfect opportunity to indulge in some delicious eats while enjoying the vintage cars on display. From Jack’s Grill to Dude’s Drive-Inn and everything in between, these Redding restaurants offer a taste of history.
So, take a break from the car show and explore the iconic eateries that Redding has to offer. As you savor the flavors—and perhaps the horsepower—remember that good food is timeless, just like classic cars. As James Beard once said, “Food is our common ground, a universal experience.”
NEXT UP: TOP REASONS TO TAKE A BREAK FROM YOUR ROAD TRIP IN REDDING