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 Milk Shake, and Best Drive-Thru. The benevolent eatery has also donated more than $2 million to public schools throughout the country through their program Limeades for Learning, which helps to fund educational projects and retirement plans for classroom guinea pigs.
Papa John's has carefully curated a menu stocked with robust topping options to adorn blank pizza canvases. Unify bubbly discs under a blanketing of freshly cut roma tomatoes, or spice up bites with jalepeño peppers. The pizzeria imports its black olives from Spain's Herrara grove, where they peak in plumpness and accomplish astounding feats of international diplomacy before populating Papa John's pizzas. Meaty options such as grilled all-white-meat chicken, filler-free spicy italian sausage, and hickory-smoked bacon add layers of heartiness to slices, and reinforcing mozzarella with parmesan, romano, or a blend of asiago, provolone, and fontina improves the genetic robustness of cheese.
Featuring a menu packed with healthy options, Panda Garden swifty dishes spicy and snow-pea-centric Chinese cuisine at affordable prices. Diners can peruse a substantial selection of vegetable and meat medleys, including comforting classics such as Hunan beef ($8.50), Kung Po chicken ($7.95), and crab rangoon ($4.50). Meat-phobic diners can feast on the vegetarian options, including Szechuan bean curd ($6.95), while fans of figure-friendly foods will feel no guilt ordering steamed veggies with chicken ($7.50) from the health food menu, where each item is salt-free, MSG-free, corn starch-free, and oil-free. The Dragon and Phoenix ($9.95) combines two popular dishes, spicy shrimp and General Tso's chicken, into one piquant entrée. Panda Garden's dining room is a small but inviting space, with yellow walls, dark mahogany dining tables, and framed pictures of popular dishes, which help people forget about the small photographs of their favorite ham and cheese sandwich stored in their wallet.
Since the 1990s, Alvarez Restaurant has served up classic Mexican cuisine in a cozy dining room with funky decor. House specialties include bacon-wrapped shrimp topped with monterrey cheese, sizzling fajitas served in iron skillets, and chicken in a rich mole sauce made with peanuts, ancho peppers, sesame, and chocolate. Pair your meal with a Mexican beer, a flavored margarita, or a fruity Mexico City–style cocktail.
The hospitable crew of Crosstown Pub dishes a mouthwatering menu of pub fare spiced with daily specials and house-made soups, bread, and desserts. Chompers sink into succulent third-pound Angus burgers ($4.25), 12-inch cheese and pepperoni pizzas ($7.75), or flatbread sandwiches ($3.50–$4.50) ideal for stealthily slipping under the front door of a secret crush. Daily specials include a prime-rib sandwich with hand-cut skinny fries on Saturday ($7.75), and Wednesday and Friday fish fries heap plates with perch, catfish, or shrimp ($8.50) or all-you-can-eat cod ($9.25) paired with coleslaw, hush puppies, and a choice of potato. Between bites, patrons can claim spots at the spacious wraparound bar, cheer on favorite teams playing on the bar's high-definition TVs, plunk quarters into a selection of arcade games, or take over as DJ via the jukebox.
Fiesta Mexican Grill's chefs dish up generous portions of authentic Mexican classics. Dinner combinations serve to assault taste buds with a cornucopia of different textures and flavors, as duos such as enchiladas and tacos arrive in time to battle their alter egos, chile poblano and enchiladas, and stop them from destroying the moon. Lunch ushers in similarly crafted pursuits, as chile poblanos, tacos, and burritos vie for placement next to beans and rice, with sightings of guacamole salad. Mouths anxiously awaiting the arrival of satisfying entrees can step away from the edge with appetizers such as guacamole, cheese, or bean dips, while nachos available in different toppings send tiny tortilla planes to taxi on tarmac tongues.