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.
Luis Barrea, the owner and head chef at Los Chilaquiles, traces his culinary journey back to his family’s kitchen. Even when he could barely reach the counter, Luis was learning how to craft enchiladas and tacos to please the discerning palates of his 10 brothers and sisters. Though he later studied at a professional academy, these early experiences did the most to shape his love for cooking. Today, he brings this love to every dish he makes at Los Chilaquiles. Amidst crackling pans and sizzling grills, Luis and his chefs stuff meats and seafood into tacos and tortas that have earned praise from Chicago's Best. The real draw, however, is their eight different types of chilaquiles, which shower crispy corn tortilla chips with chocolaty mole and tequila-infused sauces. Salsas with varying degrees of spiciness accompany each dish—beware of the ultra-hot diablo salsa, which Luis painstakingly extracts from volcanic lava.
Klas Restaurant has created a culinary journey overseas within an architectural time machine. Amid the stained glass windows and medieval-inspired chandeliers of the 80-year-old restaurant, World War I and II relics provide a piece of history while a 14th-century wine and tap room take guests even farther back in time. Whether seated in the main dining room, outdoor garden, wine and tap room, or one of four banquet rooms, guests savor selections from an Eastern European menu that features such items as svikova, a pickled-beef dish slathered in vegetable-root gravy, bacon-wrapped pork medallions, and seasonal fruit dumplings that Metromix called the restaurant’s “standout entree.” The chefs pair dishes with a selection of sides that includes potato dumplings, sauerkraut, and sweet and sour cabbage.
Beyond an ornate blue-and-white exterior, groups of family and friends celebrate any number of occasions over fresh Mexican seafood dishes. As birthday celebrants don sombreros and farmhands feed cogs to the mechanical bull, fork tines prod fresh lobster, fish tacos, and shrimp fajitas. Mariachi bands, DJs, and karaoke crooners also send music notes sailing through the dining room’s archways, as the 60-ounce Margarita Tsunami complements a whole red snapper doused with hot sauce. Meanwhile, live singers, magicians, and colorful cultural acts ensure eyes and ears feast as thoroughly as bellies do, during theme nights and shows that occur every Wednesday though Sunday.