When Rockford Register Star reviewer Anna Derocher stopped by Coco Joe's, she didn't hesitate to bring her family. The all-American grill and ice-cream shop did not disappoint; "All of us went home stuffed," she writes, including her 9-year-old son who gave "two thumbs up" to his double cheeseburger. The menu of hot sandwiches and crinkle cut french fries was even enough to satisfy Derocher's 14-year-old niece, who was pleased to find her chicken sandwich crispy instead of greasy. The housemade root beer was by far the family favorite, a suitably sweet prelude to desserts of chocolate shakes, M&M's-dotted flurries, and waffle cones so big they double as dunce caps. None of the dishes—from the fried-fish sandwiches to the hearty bowls of chili—are pre-made, but the Derocher family agrees that each treat is "worth the wait."
Natural light licks the lacquered bar, laden with down-turned coffee mugs, silverware rolls, and the reflection of a smiling server. Spatulas, seasoned pans, and other kitchen utensils adorn the diner's walls, all hinting at what defines Sheri’s Place: real comfort food, everything from house-made meatloaf and fluffy fresh-whipped omelets to a Friday-night fish fry with hand-breaded fillets. The quaint eatery can seat roughly 90 folks at its casual tables and booths, which are ergonomically designed to maximize the speed at which patrons can devour a house-made rhubarb or caramel-apple pie without hands.
Papa John's has carefully curated a menu stocked with robust topping options to adorn blank pizza canvases. Unify bubbly discs under a blanketing of freshly cut roma tomatoes, or spice up bites with jalepeño peppers. The pizzeria imports its black olives from Spain's Herrara grove, where they peak in plumpness and accomplish astounding feats of international diplomacy before populating Papa John's pizzas. Meaty options such as grilled all-white-meat chicken, filler-free spicy italian sausage, and hickory-smoked bacon add layers of heartiness to slices, and reinforcing mozzarella with parmesan, romano, or a blend of asiago, provolone, and fontina improves the genetic robustness of cheese.
Whiskey’s Roadhouse electrifies eating with savory bites and nightly hard-rock rhythms. The menu serves stomachs plenty of soul food, such as all-you-can-eat biscuits and gravy ($3.99), the Hillbilly Rubin sandwich ($6.99), beer-battered mushrooms ($4.49), and country-fried streak with eggs, toast, and hash browns ($5.99).
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.