Though they're far from the mystic castles of Philadelphia, the sandwich chefs at Chucktown Philly Cheesesteak pride themselves on their ability to make an authentic cheesesteak. They first stack thinly sliced grilled steak or chicken between two halves of a crisp hoagie slathered with melted cheese. They then customize each sandwich with the guest's choice of toppings, including traditional mushrooms and peppers, or creative additions such as salsa. Along with such experimental cheesesteaks, they also build BLT, tuna, and chicken-parmesan sub sandwiches.
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.
Flavorful sauces, fresh vegetables, and proteins, such as lobster and roast duck: these are the building blocks behind Mongo Wok N Grill's menu of Chinese and Thai favorites. Cooks simmer creamy curries, sauté pans of fried rice, and prepare specialties such as the Seafood Bird Nest–a medley of scallops, shrimp, and squid served in a crisp nest of fried noodles.
Dessert refuses to be an afterthought at Ye Ole Fashioned Ice Cream & Sandwich Cafe. More than 30 ice-cream flavors—repeatedly lauded by the Charleston City Paper and Moultrie News—pile atop cones or blend into milk shakes, and classic banana splits make mouths water with their pecans and cherries. The café’s scoops of amaretto cherry or java chunk are generous, living up to the vision of Rod Lapin, who opened the first Ye Ole Fashioned in 1972 with the idea of making customers’ jaws drop at the size of his portions.
Today, at more than half a dozen locations, including one helmed by his daughter Becki and her husband, that hasn’t changed. Ten strips of bacon layer the café’s signature BLTs; chili-laden, all-beef hot dogs weigh down their buns; and the plates are required to start lifting weights regularly before they’re allowed to carry double-decker sandwiches or burgers.
Domino's recently reformulated its pizza recipe, which puts the buyer in command of a plentitude of pie-personalizing possibilities. Test the sturdiness of a hand-tossed thin crust with mounds of hearty marinara, ham, chicken, green peppers, black olives, and spinach, or fill a deep-dish foundation with alfredo sauce, bacon, onions, jalapeños, fresh mushrooms, and banana peppers. While delicious design options stretch into infinity like a taffy pull in a black hole, the eatery's specialty pizzas make choosing more manageable. Peruse pies like the MeatZZa Feast, which is piled high with pepperoni, ham, italian sausage, beef, and extra mozzarella, and the Pacific Veggie, a flashy West Coast–concoction of roasted red peppers, spinach, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, black olives, feta, mozzarella, and provolone.
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.