Originally branded as the Top Hat Drive-In, Sonic Drive In 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 Drive In 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 Drive In’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.
Built in 1939, Commodore Hotel & Café has been charming visitors for more than seven decades with high ceilings, crown moldings, and elegant décor. The front lobby's chandeliers reflect their light in a spacious mirror above a crackling fireplace, around which red armchairs huddle to warm their feet. Heavy wooden armoires, plush chairs, and elegant décor typify standard rooms. The jacuzzi king room's sumptuous gold bedspread invites travelers to springboard off plush oriental throw rugs into the spacious sleeper, and elegant white trim accents a deep floral print and exposed brick. The business center outfits office-minded guests with a fax, printer, and computer, and WiFi allows travelers to chronicle their stylish lodgings on the company blog. Travelers can also make pit stops at the adjacent café to munch on breakfast, eclectic lunch offerings, and elegant dinners (not included with today's Groupon) or feed ravenous ears during live music events.
Tennessee State Park Restaurants has eight eateries under its umbrella, all of which can be found in scenic locales sprinkled across the state. Park-goers can take a load off after a long day of hiking and sightseeing to dig into different specialties. Each spot offers a unique menu?Cumberland Mountain specializes in catfish on Fridays, whereas Pickwick Landing combines Southern cuisine with views of the water.
Betty's Parkway Restaurant treats its diners to a feast of hand-pattied burgers, juicy rib eyes and filets mignon, and homey American meals of fried chicken, pork chops, and baked potatoes. Guests tuck in to breakfasts of biscuits and gravy or bacon and eggs, or dinners of ribs and spaghetti paired with frosty beer.
A full menu of burgers, steaks, beer, and more welcomes guests to Embers, where meats are slow-cooked on an open grill fueled by flaming hickory chunks. Glimpse sports action on one of the bar's hi-def televisions before starting the feast with an appetizer of thickly sliced onion rings ($3.95) or a basket of fried, hand-battered pickles ($3.95). Burger buffs can sample the Embers Angus burger, whose 10 oz. compacted disc of premium Black Angus beef is first hand-patted to perfection, then served between the two hemispheres of a toasted kaiser roll with lettuce, tomato, onion, and a pickle ($7.25). Or, make your mouth merry with the delicious flavors of a full rack of baby back pork ribs, which are designed to fall off the bone like jam sandwiches sliding from a flimsy picnic plate ($16.99). For the quenching of thirst, the bar stocks a rotating selection of drafts and a large gathering of domestic and imported beers.
More than simply opening up their own diner, the family behind J's Mexican Restaurant has established an outpost for the traditions and cuisine of their native Jalisco, Mexico. In the brightly colored dining room, the family whips up generations-old recipes to share with more than just family and friends. Diners sip on one of the famous $3 margaritas while gouging fresh guacamole with crunchy tortilla chips. Classic entree mainstays include tacos lined with grilled shrimp, tilapia, and steak, but J's also has a flair for invention. It's specialty mule burrito is filled with french fries, refried beans, and steak before receiving a crown of pico de gallo all plated with Mexican rice.