Originally opened as the Top Hat Drive-In in 1953, Sonic has grown into a burger-franchise mecca that today operates out of 3,500 locations across the country, making it the nation’s largest chain of drive-in restaurants. Sonic specializes in made-to-order American classics—including burgers, hot dogs, milk shakes, and marshmallow Ford Thunderbolts—which customers order and receive without ever having to leave their cars. Unique menu items include toaster sandwiches stacked on thick slices of texas toast, as well as the brand’s signature tots and fresh limeades.
Sonic’s numerous awards include a 2011 Zagat survey ranking it among the top-five fast-food restaurants in three categories: Best Value Menu, Best Milkshake, and Best Drivethru. The benevolent eatery has also donated more than $2 million to public schools throughout the country through its program Limeades for Learning, which helps to fund educational projects and retirement plans for classroom guinea pigs.
At Patty's Pig 'n' Pit, seasoned chefs emerge from behind the pit's smoky billows with dry-rubbed Angus steaks, hand-shaped burgers, and fresh seafood. Meanwhile, six homemade signature sauces, such as North Carolina Vinegar, South Carolina Mustard, Kansas City Sweet, Kansas City Spicy, Auntie JD's Bourbon, and Southwestern Ancho, are presented to tables. A cavalcade of meats parade across the diverse menu, including starter plates of wings ($9) delivered straight from the grill. Diners can cover hands in the saucy apparel of a smoky brisket platter ($15), or corral succulent hunks of pulled pork ($13), which is rubbed, smoked, and given a pep talk before bravely going out to take on palates. Alternatively, ambrosial scents trail behind the Patty's barbecue-special burger ($9.50), whose sautéed mushrooms and onions splash about in melted cheddar cheese. Fried shrimp ($16), like an eccentric fishing captain, dons a cloak of cocktail sauce, and classic Southern sides ($3) such as baked beans, mac 'n' cheese, and white-cheddar grits volunteer tasty forkfuls, offsetting meaty bites and giving winded napkins a breather.
Although Cathryn “Chef C” Matthes began life as an overweight child, she favored healthy cooking early in her culinary career. She turned toward nutritious foods and recipes, and eventually earned recognition from Southern Living magazine, SpaFinder magazine, and the New York Daily News for her healthful and delicious foods. Today, Chef C helms DelisheeeYo, adhering to her health-conscious mission while preparing light lunch fare and frozen yogurt.
DelisheeeYo’s frozen yogurt menu includes one flavor: tart original. Packed with probiotics, this low-fat and lower-sugar yogurt swirls into 3-, 5-, and 7-ounce cups or 10-gallon cowboy hats when no one’s looking. A toppings bar, packed with everything from fresh fruit to housemade chocolate-chipotle-cinnamon syrup, dresses up yogurt to each customer’s liking. The chef and staff hand-select organic apples, strawberries, and blueberries from local and organic sources when available, and avoid high-fructose corn syrup by importing all of their chocolates and caramels.
Though the yogurt is DelisheeeYo’s specialty, Chef C doesn’t stop there. Organic greens, peppers, garbanzo beans, and cheeses fill a vegan salad bar. Whole-wheat flour tortillas wrap themselves around nut butter, banana, and honey, or transform into a Trojan Horse to surround hummus and Greek olives. The chef helps customers wash down meals by concocting refreshing specialty drinks from ingredients such as organic Italian lemon juice and agave nectar.
Ramona Fantini tasted her first spoonful of gelato while vacationing in Florence, Italy, in 2002. She was immediately taken with the cold, smooth dessert, and knew that people back home in America would love it too. So when she returned from her vacation, she left her corporate position and opened Pino Gelato. At her shop, artisans use a precise technique and special equipment to concoct small batches of the Italian dessert, blending fresh fruit, actual espresso, and other wholesome ingredients with milk. The result is a treat that is denser and lower in fat than ice cream, and unlike ice cream, doesn't cause everyone to scream.
In the years since Fantini starting making gelato, her business has expanded to multiple locations throughout the Southeast. At each shop, her baristas scoop gelato and dairy-free sorbetto into cups and cones and brew specialty café drinks to pair with pastries. At lunchtime, patrons can bite into an unconventional snack lauded by the Food Network: handheld cones of pizza crust filled with mozzarella, tomato sauce, and other savory ingredients.
The midday sun beats down on the hat-clad heads of the passengers, but they barely feel the heat. The rapt crowd has gathered on the top deck of the Holiday, their eyes collectively glued to the waters below them where a glossy fin emerged and disappeared a second ago. The onlookers’ silence suddenly dissolves into a symphony of awed whispers and camera clicks as a trio of playful bottlenose dolphins breaks through the water and splashes about near the ship. Creating moments such as this between humans and nature has been Captain Mark's Dolphin Watch Cruise’s mission since setting sail on its inaugural excursion in 1983.
Based out of Shelter Cove Harbour, Captain Mark's Dolphin Watch Cruise's experienced crew introduces visitors to area wildlife via two varieties of aquatic adventures. Daytime and sunset dolphin watch nature cruises glide past numerous scenic points of interest including Wexford Plantation, marine creatures, oyster beds, and oyster laundry piles. Alternatively, Let’s Go Crabbing trips ferry kids and adults away aboard the Crabber J II for a lively session of crustacean catching.