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Circus Drive In Restaurant – A Perfect Retro Road Trip Excuse Wall Township, NJ

Posted on: July 30, 2012

2017 UPDATE: THREATENED! Sadly it looks like the Circus Drive In is closed, going to be demolished, to make way for something big and boring I’m sure. I’ll keep everyone posted but it doesn’t look good for this New Jersey icon of the roadside, according to the latest news from the Asbury Park Press

Some people climb mountains simply because they are there. Mod Betty knows how they feel (except for the actual climbing of the mountains part,ugh!) because we retro road tripped to the Circus Drive-In in Wall Township New Jersey – simply because we had never been there!

When we were greeted by their famous neon sign we knew we made the right choice.

Circus Drive In Neon Sign
The Circus has been serving up tasty foods and frosty treats since 1954. You have your choice of sitting in your car for curb or car hop service, or dining under the big top.
Circus Drive In Curb Service
It was a gajillion degrees out the day we visited so we got out of the Retro Roadmobile and headed under the tent. The flaps were open and a nice breeze came through, helped along by fans that were blowing the smell of delicious food our way!
Under the Big Top at the Circus Drive In

There was a lot more on the menu than I thought there would be, including soft shell crab sandwiches, and they’re famous for those.

We both ordered iced tea – which is fresh brewed. Our waitress gave us an extra cup of crushed ice which I thought was a nice touch.

I chose a california burger w/ cheese – nom!

California Burger

And Retro Roadhusband got a foot long hotdog with 3 sides, so we could try out what they all were like. Though I’m usually a crinkle cut fry gal, the other sides paled in comparison to the homemade onion rings. Next time we’re getting a separate order of them for sure!

Foot Long at Circus Drive In
The restaurant has a spot for kids parties off to the side, and (for over 30 years!) clown “Macaroni Anne Cheeze” has been entertaining the children, making balloon animals and amusing them while they wait for their meals.

For the slightly older set  The Circus does a vintage car cruise night on the second  Tuesday of June, July, and August (if it rains they do it the next tuesday) – you can check their Facebook Page for updates.

Interesting note! I spied some tables that had the seats attached to them and pointed them out to RRH. I didn’t snap any photos since there were folks sitting at the table. But according to the Circus website, it’s actually a table from a  decommissioned submarine?! Next time we go back – and we will go back – I’ll snap a photo and share it.

Update to Interesting Note! 

Circus owner Rick Rose was kind enough to elaborate on the story of the “submarine” table:

We are not the original owners of the restaurant, but the story according to the original owner was that he purchased the tables years ago from the Philadelphia Naval yard, and they are from a World War II troop ship. If I was a betting man, I would say they were not painted those bright colors back then!

Now I know why people climb mountains, kinda like I want to go to every Retro Roadmap worthy place around – because they’re there! (Cue the  “Clime Ev’ry Mountain exit music!)

Circus Drive-In on Urbanspoon

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  • Matt Smallwood

    Very nice indeed, Betty. I’ll have to make a trip one day soon. Do they close after Labor or later? Or do they play it by ear?

  • wacky tacky

    LOOOOOVE!!!! “Circus” is a favorite theme around here and now I’m hungry for a circus burger!!!

  • Matt –
    They close over the winter months (or at least they have in years past). The first time that I stopped in was in late spring and they were still closed for the season.

    Great place and great pics (as per usual), Beth! 🙂

    • WV – thanks for adding your infos, and for the kind words on the photos – it’s easy to take photos of cool places like this!

  • Here’s the word on opening and closing dates for The Circus Drive In, from their FB page.

    Short story – they’re not cast in stone.

    “We usually close in early to mid October. An official date is not set because we wait to see how the weather is to make sure everyone has an enjoyable experience. Just so you know we are open 7 days a week through Labor Day, and then close on Mondays (open 6 days a week) for the remainder of August, September, and October.

    Opening day is the same deal. This year we opened April 3rd, but it is dependent on a lot of factors. For updated information it is best for people to like our facebook page and check our web site at for updates and our events calendar.”

    Here’s the link to their FB page so you can check it out before a trip:

    The Circus Drive In Facebook Page