It was a bold idea?opening a restaurant in the midst of the Great Depression. But the founders were truly convinced that if they maintained a clean space with low prices and friendly service, they'd drum up more than enough business to support themselves. And on October 24, 1932, when Krystal's first customer walked out with six Krystals and a cup of coffee for 35 cents, the restaurant's remarkably successful run began.
More than 81 years later, Krystal reigns as one of the oldest fast-food brands in the country. Their namesake creation remains their biggest draw, snack-size burgers topped with diced onion, mustard, and pickle on a soft, square bun. Over the years they've added other hugely popular menu items, including breakfast scramblers and MilkQuakes made from 100% real ice cream. Even after eight decades, enthusiasm from customers has hardly cooled: Krystal gets so much fan mail, the staff have a Krystal Lovers Hall of Fame, for which inductees have their illustrated likeness printed on more than a million burger boxes.
The aroma of frying fish beckons diners toward Sam’s Crystal River Seafood's front door, behind which seafood, pasta, and steak are prepared amid family-friendly environs. The menu unfolds with appetizers such as double-breaded fried green tomatoes, served with house-made ranch dressing, based on the recipe famously eaten by all Wild West cowpokes ($4.49/half, $6.99/full). Shrimp can be ordered fried, broiled, blackened, or boiled, and chefs fill stuffed flounder with crab meat before broiling the fish and sprinkling monterey cheese on top ($13.99). Lobster bites are fried golden brown, providing a simpler way to explore the sea creature’s interior than administering a Myers-Briggs test ($7.49). Betray surf for turf with a clandestine rendezvous with a 12-ounce new york strip steak ($15.99), or opt to lunch on noontime burgers and sandwich fare. Ocean appreciation flourishes within the nautically themed interior, which includes a 50-gallon fish tank and walls festooned with fish replicas and oars.
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.
Nothing feels too crazy about the menu at Three Crazy Bakers. The word comfort is more likely to come to mind than crazy, considering all the homestyle breakfast, lunch, and dinner options available here. Diners start mornings off with quiches and fresh fruit, or maybe a cinnamon roll and coffee; at lunch, burgers, wraps, and salads take over. For dinner, along with their popular take-home dinner casseroles?which include lasagna, shepherd's pie, and a kid-friendly hamburger casserole?Three Crazy Bakers also features dinner specials. These take the classic meat and potatoes dinners to a new level with honey-bacon chicken breasts, bourbon-street steak, and prime rib served with a baked potato and side salad.
At Beef 'O' Brady's, hungry herds can satisfy hankerings for flavor stampedes with an extensive pub-style menu served in a sports-themed spot. Thrill-seeking taste buds dive tongue first into a wing basket laced with any of 11 different sauces and accompanied by fries, coleslaw, and blue-cheese dressing ($8.99) or beer-battered onion rings served with Beef's spicy dipping sauce ($6.69).