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](http://www.sonicdrivein.com/About/Community, which helps to fund educational projects and retirement plans for classroom guinea pigs.
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.
Traditional Jamaican flavors abound in Island Paradise's casual dining room, where a predominantly Caribbean staff revs up the sense of authenticity. Amid bright red banquettes and paintings of the tropics, tables populate with coconut-dusted fish fillets, jerk chicken, and spicy marinated pork. After diners pass around entree plates of oxtail and curried goat, they can bury forks in a sweet Jamaican dessert or utilize the eatery's dangling bead curtains as guitar strings for a three-piece zydeco band.
My Father's Place dishes out a vast menu of Italian classics including pizzas, pasta, subs, and calzones. Begin savory sojourns with garlic knots crafted from house-made dough ($3.99) by boy scouts apprenticing for epicurean sea captains. The Spud-Nick pizza allows eaters to bask in the innovation of Italian cuisine with sliced baked potatoes, crumbled bacon, chives, cheese, and sour cream ($15.99–$17.99). Other pizza options draw inspiration from Hawaiian, Texan, Mexican, and Greek fare, and a single slice of pepperoni pizza ($1.69) satisfies classic cravings. Gear up athletic-level appetites for the lasagna dinner, which opens with a preshow salad and arrives with garlic bread at the sidelines ($7.99). Thoughtful chefs cover genoa salami and spiced ham with a provolone blanket on the cold italian sub ($5.29).
The chefs at Tasty Crust Pizza concoct their dough from scratch daily, flatten it into thin discs, and cap the crispy pies with fresh toppings. Bury your nose in the restaurant's straightforward menu, then bury your face in a large carryout pie adorned with one of 14 toppings ($7.99), or bury family heirlooms under large, carryout, specialty pizzas such as the baked potato pizza or the bacon cheeseburger pizza ($11.99). Customers may dine-in to pair the pizza—the beloved superhero of foods—with a sidekick such as spicy fried ravioli ($3.99), wings ($6.99 for 10, $12.99 for 20), or a well-adjusted tax accountant.
A Macon staple since 1935, Fincher’s savory smoked fare and signature sauce is the first of its kind to leave orbit, traveling on two separate space missions at the request of an astronaut. Topping the streamlined menu is the barbecue pig, a classic chopped-pork sandwich ($2.28), which pairs perfectly with french fries ($1.59) or a cup of brunswick stew ($1.10). The chicken plate ($6.85) unites a half pound of the prized protein with fries, slaw, and buns. For fall-off-the-bone goodness, sample the slow-cooked St. Louis rib plate ($7.99), accompanied by three sides and a succession of satisfied lip smacks.