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.
A selection of 40 themed rooms at the Hotel Pattee celebrates historical contributions to Midwestern life. Standard stayers can pass notes in the Alton School room or sleep under the stars and stripes of the marching-band room. A space celebrating Japanese culture is available to premiere guests, and the aura of Louis Armstrong resides in a New Orleans-inspired suite room. Personalized touches include a wood-burning fireplaces in select rooms and more than 130 pieces of original artwork. Active bodies can find a niche in the fitness center, which features cardio equipment and a hot tub, a sauna, and a steam room.
At the beginning of the 20th century, horses whinnied and snorted in the basement of The Livery building, according to the Des Moines Register. Today, though, the cleaned-up space is home to a cozy cafe run by Betsy and James Gideon. Betsy and James strive for thoughtful quality in the form of single-pour brews of coffee and the pastries they bake in-house. The café's ovens are not only for pastries, though; the Gideons also bake fresh bread for sandwiches rather than using prepackaged bread or reconstituted croutons. Guests can recline on wooden furniture that James Gideon constructs himself, or head to the outdoor patio in warm weather.
Now in its 40th year, Medicap Pharmacy stocks its shelves with an array of healthcare products, specializing in a neighborhood-friendly atmosphere staffed by personable pharmacists. Guests are invited to peruse Medicap Pharmacy's thoroughfares lined with medicinal home goods, or stop by the pharmacy counter to fill a prescription or ask about seasonal flu shots. Customers can tenderly tend to wounded ankles with an ankle brace ($29.90), reward immune systems with reinforcing cold medicine ($1.59–$11.49), or keep the body stocked with the vital nutrients by picking up women’s vitamins ($8.90). Medicap Pharmacy also keeps customers in tip-top shape by offering preventative health screenings as well as at-home delivery.
Fat Randi's Bar & Grill, a casual gathering spot where cooks grill burgers and bartenders tap brews, has a claim to fame: its hand-breaded tenderloins were ranked as one of the state's top five Best Breaded Pork Tenderloins by the Iowa Pork Producers Association. That ranking inspired Des Loines—a blog entirely dedicated to pork-tenderloin sandwiches—to review Fat Randi’s version, describing it as "nice, thick and juicy" with a "nice golden brown color,” and noted that its wealth of toppings caused it to lean to the side. The staff of Fat Randi’s hosts events regularly, such as a steak fry, Daytona 500 party, and a New Year's Day brunch.
In the summer of 2000, Bob Young took over Italian Villages, and made the restaurant a family affair by running it along with his children Brenna and Perry. Thirteen years later, the chefs are still crafting a menu of familiar Italian staples alongside American dinner entrees such as steak, seafood, and chicken breast draped in American flag sauce. And in keeping with the restaurant's family-friendly vibe, the menu also offers a kids menu featuring classic childhood favorites such as grilled cheese and spaghetti.