North Park Grill gets its classic sports-bar ambiance from checkered floors, neon tube lights, and, of course, televisions that broadcast football games. While watching those games, patrons can snack on grilled quesadillas, pizzas, and burgers stacked with fixings such as fried eggs or sautéed mushrooms. All the while, bartenders mix cocktails and fill mugs with draft beer, and pool balls glide seamlessly on their tables.
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 also has 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.
Given its signature touches, Sapphires Sports Bar & Grill is more of a biography than a bar. Green Bay Packers memorabilia speaks to owner Mike's affection for the team, as do the wings specials and festive gatherings on game days. Co-owner Charlene has likewise left her mark—each table is scattered with a variety of wine labels, the results of her years spent scouting for fine food and drink as a former Delta flight attendant. By putting their personal touches into the decor, the owners hope to invite guests into a memorable setting, and by employing several of their relatives, they strive to foster a warm, welcoming atmosphere around the venue's copper bar.
Beyond being a catalog of hobbies and hospitable staff members, Sapphires is also an homage to accessible gourmet. Its menu—inspired by a mix of timeless grill food and Charlene's gourmet tastes—surprises seasoned pub-goers with items such as the smoked-salmon pizza, a disk of rosemary focaccia adorned in capers, red onions, and bites of fresh fish. Even the list of 19 wing sauces denotes sophisticated cooking, dressing chicken in sweet-and-spicy plum, garlic thai, and bourbon-style marinades, instead of traditional flavors such as "smoke" and "yummy." Guests can compose signature burgers with made-from-scratch patties, or peruse the night's specials for examples of international recipes.
Try an East Coast eat without leaving the state and order the Jersey Shore’s Favorite served Mike’s Way—generous slices of provolone, ham, and cappacuolo get layered with onions, lettuce, tomatoes, vinegar, and a sprinkling of oil and spices. Hot options include various takes on the famed cheese-and-steak combination, as well as a chicken parm and meatball and cheese. On a lighter note, Jersey Mike’s also serves wraps and salads. Prices vary by location and size, with cold mini subs ranging from $4 to $4.75, cold regular subs ranging from $5.75 to $6.75, and giant regular subs ranging from $9.75 to $10.75. Regular hot subs run from $6.25 to $6.75, and giant hot subs run from $10.25 to $10.75.
Noisy Oyster provides the pelican pouches of area citizens with fresh, locally-caught fruits-of-the-sea. Inspect the extensive dinner menu before commencing incisor insertion into an appetizer such as the twistedly-tasty shrimp corn dogs—a skewer pierced with five battered jumbo shrimp, deep-fried to crispy resistance, and served with a side of sweet and spicy Chinese mustard sauce ($8.99). The baked seafood au gratin layers fresh shrimp, meaty scallops, and fresh fish medallions within the mortar of a decadent blue crab stuffing, Jack and cheddar cheeses, and a Parmesan cream sauce ($16.99), and the low-country crab cakes feature loads of crab meat with a blue crab hollandaise ($16.49) on top. Those abstaining from oceanic eating can direct their eyes toward the super cheeseburger ($6.49, add bacon for $0.79), or the spicy barbecue chicken pizza ($11.99), while those abstaining from eating in general can explore the drink menu. Quench thirst with house specialty jungle juice ($6.99) or the noisy oystertini, a spicy mixture made of Tabasco, horseradish, and vodka ($6.50).
Feed starving eye sockets with visions of North Towne's talented chefs grilling away in the open kitchen, or let the fire come to you with kasseri cheese flamed at your table and served with pita wedges ($7.95). Greek spices and lemon sauce perfume broiling sea scallops and tire out tongues just in time for naps in accompanying beds of steak fries ($17.95). Purists can opt for skewers of lamb licked by the flames for North Towne's namesake grill ($17.95). Those with a taste for something less common can venture into an order of moussaka—baked layers of eggplant, seasoned beef, and creamy cheese sauce ($14.50). Other nosh options include crab, shrimp, roasted chicken, what your neighbor ordered, and steak entrees.
In seven locations around the Charleston area, King Street Grille rolls out upscale pub fare and a few dozen flat-screen televisions. Full of contemporary versions of traditional bar favorites, the menu unfolds to reveal mac ‘n’ cheese egg rolls, nine types of grilled, hand-formed burgers, and plates weighed down with comforting entrees, such as pork chops and shepherd's pie. The bar stocks more than 100 beers and its own line of liquor to wash down meals or offer as gifts to the thirsty actors who reenact big games inside the TV. Throughout the week, the eatery pairs good food with good times by transforming its space into a venue for trivia nights, billiards, and live music.