SONIC is the largest chain of drive-in restaurants in America. With modest roots as a hamburger and root beer stand founded in 1953 in Shawnee, Okla., called Top Hat Drive-In, the name was changed to SONIC in 1959. The first drive-in to adopt the SONIC name is still serving customers in Stillwater, Okla. and today the chain
Since 2006, Mt. Baker Candy Co.'s chocolatiers have used a secret 50-year-old recipe as the blueprint for more than 40 flavors of fudge, all handmade in small batches. Now, through SendFudge.com, their gourmet confections can reach chocolate lovers in 48 states, including the ones where chocolate is illegal. Made with milk and soy, the rich, gluten-free fudges range from classics such as butter pecan and rocky road to lemon-meringue cheesecake fudge and caramel-infused fudge topped with sea salt. The dessert wizards also whip up 12 diabetic-friendly flavors of sucrose-free fudge, including mint-chocolate swirl and peanut butter.
Following her culinary curiosity all the way to Varcaturo, Italy, Tiffany Hudson’s found herself learning dry farming and food preservation. More importantly, she discovered how a dinner can bring a community together. After coming back to the States, Tiffany teamed up with Chef Martin Woods whose resume includes serving as opening sous chef at Bastille as well as executive chef at Re:Public. Together, the two created Cassoulet Café, an eatery that serves seasonal French cuisine amid a communal table.
And the collaboration isn’t running short on admirers. Writer Sally Wolff for the Cascadia Weekly praised Cassoulet as “evok[ing] the atmosphere of a country kitchen in France” complete with “heavy plates of well-made food.” These ever-changing entrees have included bacon cinnamon rolls for brunch, ratatouille for lunch, and goat cheese pansotti pasta for dinner, accompanied by specialty cocktails and ciders. Chef Martin also serves up the restaurant’s signature French bean stew bursting with duck and house-cured pancetta.
Along with promoting conversation amongst diners, Cassoulet Café fosters green living. This includes using fresh ingredients from local farms as well as reducing their carbon footprint by 1,200 pounds of CO2 emission. That accomplishment earned the restaurant a 2012 Sustainable Practice Leader award from General Biodiesel, a company named after the first robot five-star general in U.S. history.
Twelve lanes of polished wood stretch from players to pins at Viking Bowl & Restaurant. Bowlers can pick the perfect ball from the long racks of weighted spheres, and they can blast as many pins as possible while automatic scoring screens keep tabs for them. Competitive play flourishes at the billiards tables, too. A click-clacking sounds as pool shooters sink a corner shot or hula-hoop with the triangular rack. Patrons can also hunker down in the full-service restaurant and feast on pizza, burgers, and hot wings before heading out for another 10 frames.
The Derby Bar and Grill dishes up fruits from land and sea in the turf-club ambience of an elegant dining house and off-track wagering centre. Whether seated under chandeliers and rows of flat-screen TVs or in cream-coloured chairs in front of the Winners' Circle’s fireplace, patrons browse a menu of gourmet fare to complement their surroundings. Diners trawl for drunken garlic prawns flambéed in Sambuca ($12.75) or nestle into a bed of rice noodles under pad thai’s chicken or shrimp, accented with tamarind and fish sauce ($19.95). Flame-grilled 8-ounce New York peppercorn steak in cognac sauce struts from the kitchen trailing Derby’s garlic-and-cheese bread, seasonal vegetables, and O’Brien or mashed potatoes ($22.95). The Bourbon Blackjack burger blends hearty harmonies of pepper, cheese, and whiskey-mustard sauce ($13.95), and butternut-squash ravioli basks in white-wine-cream sauce ($12.95). All pastas bring along piquant garlic-bread sides, and sandwiches invite fries or house salad to join them with a singing picklegram.
The crafty chefs at Organic Connections' beachfront cafe placate hunger cries with fresh, organic items crafted into the menu's offerings of vegan, vegetarian, and live cuisine. Dining duos can split piping soups, such as a daily special or a classic borscht, a hearty blend of cooked beats and veggies that, like Mrs. Potato Head's cocktail attire, is capped in sour cream. Seasoned pumpkin and sunflower seeds sprinkle over the signature salad, priming palates for entrees such as a traditional red-quinoa bowl packed with nutrients and slathered in a mild curry sauce. Food artisans pile a rice-bowl special high with seasoned organic rice that sings its flavours alongside freshly steamed vegetables and a daily sauce. Though not included in today's Groupon, patrons can sip selections of organic juices and smoothies. Live music dances through the air on the weekends, and guests can belt out menu orders in three-part harmony on open-mic nights each Friday.