Open since 1963, Donatos peddles its doughy, cheese-covered delicacies in nearly 200 stores across five states. The Northcoast Double Sausage Pizza is the newest creation from Donatos thin crust sooth-sayers. The pie balances savory forces with both Donatos family recipe sausage and mild Italian sausage undulating on a taste-bud teeter-totter. Stitched together with a mélange of provolone, mozzarella, and cheddar cheeses, the pizza is blanketed by a patchwork of caramelized onions and banana peppers. See the sidebar for a list of all 18 participating Donatos locations.
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 pick up from the drive through or receive from skating car hops 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.
From its outpost in the Cleveland Heights, The Mad Greek crafts a menu of Greek and Indian food, which is prepared fresh every day. Chicken curry dishes and alu ghobi are served alongside pita sandwiches filled with beef and lamb gyros, chicken souvlaki, or falafel. Small bites include spanakopita and hummus and the Athenian burger acts as a culinary Trojan horse, delivering tzatziki sauce and feta cheese into open mouths.
The staple of Sushi Rock’s menu is its selection of roughly 50 sushi, sashimi, and maki rolls, which collect multiple Japanese flavors into one neat package. The Sushi Rock roll alone packs a punch of shrimp tempura, crabstick, salmon, tuna, asparagus, and masago. A slate of USDA Prime steaks and fresh seafood entrees such as sesame-seared tuna complement the sushi-bar creations. Each meticulously plated dish arrives in Sushi Rock's ultra-modern dining space, where backlit bottles glisten against a cityscape mural in the bar area, and color blocks of red and black pop in the dimly lit dining areas. Together, Sushi Rock’s choice food and hip vibe earned it a No. 1 ranking on CityVoter's Best Sushi list in 2010.
Melange Restaurant serves contemporary American cuisine with an emphasis on seasonal and organic ingredients. Working stiffs and wobblers alike can examine the lunch menu's soups, salads, and sandwiches, taking advantage of choices such as the Melange salad, with mixed greens, grapes, dried apricots, and feta cheese ($8), or the lobster BLT ($12.50), which combines the ocean's untold mysteries with the stability of an old standby. On the weekend, breakfast lovers and lunch enthusiasts join forces to devour brunches of Belgian waffles topped with seasonal fruit ($5) and surf-and-turf Benedicts crammed with alternating bites of lobster and Canadian bacon ($12). At dinner, Melange's watermelon and black-bean salsa ($4) warms teeth up for the main events of small-plate gyro-style lamb ribs ($13.50) or the main dish of Kobe-style flat-iron steaks ($32). Finish dinner with a dessert of Linda's chocolate-chip cookies and milk ($7) and at least half of the dessert proceeds will go to cancer research and family support.
Biagio's is a warm, friendly shop stuffed with both domestic and imported Italian deli meats and cheeses. 8-inch subs such as the prosciutto ($5.99 for small, $7.99 for large) or veal parmagiana ($4.50 for small, $7.99 for large) package Italian favorites in a warm, crusty parcel. Send hunger to bed under a full sheet of pizza with a pepperoni print ($17.99). Biagio's large selection of bulk deli items includes kalamata olives ($5.99 per pound), hot gyro ($7.99 per pound), grandma's potato salad ($1.99 per pound), and fresh ricotta cheese ($2.99 per pound). Chase savory selections with a cannoli shot, one of the many creative pastries Biagio's clever chefs whip up daily.
Steep your brain with flavorful promises of a menu to plot out an early-morning caffeine infusion, mid-day lunch treat, or late night drive-by brainwiring. Phoenix's coffees are brewed fresh from their very own beans, so have a cup of old-school joe to return to the café's roots (up to $1.70), or punch your taste buds with the devil's brew (coffee with a shot of espresso, up to $2.50). Chug their namesake with a cup of Café Phoenix, a mocha made with their signature locally produced chocolate syrup and an extra shot of espresso ($3.60), or hammer your endocrine system with the indulgent excesses of their Stuporball—two kinds of custom-blended coffee, two different chocolate syrup infusions, and an extra shot of espresso (up to $4). Tea lovers get some love at Phoenix, too—premium oolong, white, and select black or green tea varieties are available iced or hot (up to $2.40), while the house-made artisan Chai latte arrives steamed and creamy (up to $3.20). You can also upgrade to larger drinks and pay the difference.