Originally branded as the Top Hat Drive-In, Sonic didn’t acquire its nationally recognized name until 1959—six years after its inception in 1953. Today, the franchise 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 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 Limeades for Learning, which helps to fund educational projects and retirement plans for classroom guinea pigs.
A family-friendly co-op, Kaleidoscoops cools overheated taste buds with more than 70 flavors of ice cream, along with a host of variations on a similar dairy theme (single $2.39, double $3.99).. Raging chocoholics can indulge in flavors like More Cowbell, chocolate ice cream speckled with chocolate chunks, chewy brownies, and Oreo cookie pieces. Health-conscious connoisseurs, meanwhile, can savor low-fat options like black cherry or peach Depending on the size of their stomach and the scope of their bravery, diners may dive spoon-first into a lactic lagoon dubbed the Kaleidonator: 8 -12 scoops of ice cream rub elbows with brownie and pound cake fingers, waffle crisps, a banana, two of the neighbor's kids swimming laps, four toppings, whipped cream, nuts, and cherries. Kaleidoscoops also freeze-bakes a variety of ice cream cakes for all occasions (priced from $10-$45).
As a marble-top creamery and classic diner, Ferch’s Malt Shoppe & Grille satisfies hunger pains, ice-cream desires, and nostalgic longings with traditional American fare and fresh frozen custard within a throwback soda-shop setting. With 48 custard flavors and 40 toppings to choose from, Ferch’s treat specialists can create more than 1 million varieties of customized creamy concoctions. The malt shop’s black-and-white checkerboard floors, vinyl booths, and soda-fountain counters hark back to a simpler time when men wore hats and robot servants hadn’t yet begun their grisly uprising.
Gloria Jean’s Coffees’ expert baristas brew fresh cups of coffee using Rainforest Alliance beans and a passion for carefully cultivated caffeine. Whirlwinds of crushed ice co-mingle with richly roasted coffee to craft 24-ounce chillers—a slushy, sweet treat dense with dessert-like flavors. Celebrate seasonal transience with a pumpkin-spice chiller, or tickle taste buds with a frosty, slurpable snow globe in the form of a white-chocolate-caramel-cookie chiller. Five dark-chocolaty cocoa-loco chillers can help customers stay cool and caffeinated for a full workweek or provide a necessary jolt of get-up-and-go to an entire bicycle polo team after a night spent dreaming of steel children and living motorcycles.
The vibrant orange walls are enough to make Antigua Latin Restaurant stand out, but owner and self-taught chef Nicolas Ramos appeals to his customers' other senses with a menu of contemporary Mexican, Latin American, and Spanish dishes. He taps into his family's experience in the restaurant industry-which spans across more than 50 years-to populate his dining room's blue tablecloths with Cuban sandwiches, paella, traditional tapas, and enchiladas crafted from fresh ingredients. Additionally, the eatery's culinary experts host hands-on cooking classes that instruct students on the finer points of preparing a Caribbean feast or using a shrink ray to transform an entree into an appetizer.
La Parihuela's kitchen team guides diners on a tour of the diverse taste terrains of Peru with a mouthwatering menu of national dishes. A squad of nibblers can warm up jaw muscles with selections of appetizers, such as the fish ceviche, where fish stews in lime juice and guilt over not spending enough time with its guppies. Navigate spoons through the piquant waters of the parihuela, in which an assortment of fish, crab, and mollusks leave dinners with enough shells to fashion a stylish maritime necklace. After appetizers, guests turn the pages of the menu to uncover thrilling entree conclusions to their meal, such as the lomo saltado, where french fry and rice conspirators accompany strips of tenderloin steak or chicken, or the paella, where fresh seafood bodysurfs across a crowd of rice and cilantro.