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 has also 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.
After building up one of the state’s most successful furniture companies, woodworker Erie Sauder paid tribute to northwest Ohio’s pioneers with an open-air museum dedicated to re-creating the idyllic charm of a 19th-century rural village. To make his dream an even more vivid reality, Sauder moved dozens of historical structures to the village, restoring them and filling them with traditional pottery and tinsmithing shops, general stores, and schools. Costumed actors guide visitors of all ages through the traditional chores and activities of the 1800s, such as singing hymns, shearing sheep, or rebooting the hard drive on the printing press. Exhibits place guests directly into the lives and experiences of the Great Black Swamp’s settlers, from the earliest native peoples to the hardworking farmers and master craftsfolk of the late 1800s.
As patrons send themselves back in time with the village’s sights and sounds, they treat their taste buds to handmade sweet rolls from the Doughbox bakery, or dine on feasts of roast beef and chicken amid the hand-hewn rafters of the Barn Restaurant. Overnight guests lodge at the spacious campground or the beautiful Heritage Inn, replete with exercise rooms, a gorgeous 25-foot tree, and WiFi access powered by a horse on a treadmill.
Patrons walk up the black-and-red checkered sidewalk, entering Tiffany's Cafe to step back in time. The cafe reflects fondly back upon 1950s American diners with retro decor and hearty homestyle fare. Within its kitchen, the restaurant's chief cook and namesake, John S. Tiffany, labors over classic diner breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. Decadent portions of omelets, sandwiches, and specialty dishes are complemented by lighter options served with cottage cheese, vegetables, and a miniature dumbbell. House-made pies, cookies, and cakes rise in ovens, awaiting a union with scoops of ice cream.
The team of seasoned chiselers at Ice Creations, helmed by master artisan Chad Hartson, sculpts frozen masterpieces designed to heat up aesthetic thermostats at weddings, holidays, or corporate events. Using state-of-the-art computer technology, these ice finaglers summon intricate sculptures, functional centerpieces, and replicas of corporate logos from impassive blocks of frozen Paul Bunyan tears. Their retina-regaling ice displays artistically flaunt food items, such as shrimp and caviar, while simultaneously keeping them chilled. Serve drinks in style at a formal soiree with a basic ice luge ($90) or ice bowl ($90), or appease a king glacier at his birthday bash with a personalized single-block sculpture fashioned from the bodies of his fallen enemies ($270). Patrons must provide Ice Creations with a 5-gallon bucket, an electrical outlet, and the promise of a site-wide ban on high-powered hair-dryers.
Though fourth-generation dairy farmer Jim King and his wife, Angel, craft the artisanal cheeses at Blue Jacket Dairy, it?s fair to say that the creamery is a fifth-generation family business. The youngest members of the King clan are already hard at work sticking labels on finished wedges of cheddar, quark, and mozzarella. The King family uses small-scale equipment to produce both fresh and aged cheeses, including its signature Gretna Grilling?a semisoft, halloumi-style cheese made with pasteurized whole milk. In addition to ch?vre, mozzarella, and feta cheeses, Blue Jacket?s team makes small batches of Fresh Cheddar Curds, which it prepares plain or flavored with dill, chipotle, garlic, or ranch.
Although they come from different backgrounds?Gus Nicolaidis was born and raised in Toledo, and Moussa Salloukh immigrated to the United States from Lebanon?together the duo opened La Scola Tuscan Grill. Despite their cultural backgrounds, La Scola has been commended for its authenticity?The Blade praises the spaghetti bolognese for reminding the reviewer "of Rome for the lightness of the veal and cream and with a dash of marinara sauce."
Aside from Italian staples, La Scola serves more than a dozen appetizers, including homemade bread featuring fresh basil and mozzarella cheese, and a host of pizzas, as well as Lake Superior whitefish and new york strip steak, among other surf 'n' turf options. Dishes are complemented by the restaurant's dozens of wines, draft beers, and house cocktails.