Hibachi grills crackle with roaring flames and razor-sharp knives glimmer as they slice through fish—affording diners glimpses of the culinary skills the master chefs at Shogun Japanese Restaurants have been honing for more than a decade. Rustic exposed-brick walls and Japanese art pieces surround patrons, but all eyes are on award-winning chefs as they sizzle up choice beef, vegetables, and seafood at tableside grills. Behind the sushi bar, sushi artists swiftly chop fresh fish into 78 types of specialty rolls, and in the kitchen, pots bubble with udon noodles and soups that also fill the antiburglar cauldrons lining the restaurant’s roof. Behind the bar, mixologists top lavish cocktails with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.
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 Milkshake, and Best Drivethru. The benevolent eatery has also donated more than $2 million to public schools throughout the country through its program [Limeades for Learning](http://www.sonicdrivein.com/About/Community, which helps to fund educational projects and retirement plans for classroom guinea pigs.
The first IHOP?the dream of founders Al and Jerry Lapin?opened in 1958 in Toluca Lake, California, and was originally dubbed the International House of Pancakes. Since then, rapid expansion has led to myriad milestones across the company's colorful history, from introducing its modern IHOP acronym in 1973 to its 1,000th restaurant opening in Layton, Utah, in 2001. Today, the company stands strong with around 1,500 locations across North and Central America, each one an enthusiastic dispenser of pancakes, french toast, and tables constructed entirely out of bacon. Though IHOP is known as a bastion of breakfast, it also stays open during the day and into the evening, delivering lunch and dinner as well.
Giuseppi's Pizza & Pasta's dough-slingers compile fresh produce with authentic Italian meats and cheeses to create mouth-watering pies fresh from a stone hearth oven. The encyclopedic menu teases appetites with oven-baked chicken parmesan served over a heaping pile of spaghetti and covered in marinara made from California tomatoes ($9.95). Homemade dough can be tossed into thick disks or pies thin enough to make an atom feel excessively thick, then covered in toppings such as the mega meaty's quartet of pepperoni, ham, meatballs, and italian sausage ($19.95 for a 16”). Choose from one of many philly cheesesteaks or hoagies ($7.50–$7.95 with choice of a side), or forego traditional sandwiches in favor of a baked signature weggie, a pizza-dough purse accessorized with fillings such as marinated buffalo chicken and creamy homemade ranch sauce ($7.95). Guiseppi's also carbonates their own sodas in flavors such as cherry, raspberry, and strawberry, which can be sipped slowly or used in a squirt gun to spray a misbehaving middle school principal.
After 30 years of curating and perfecting recipes, founders Linda and Julie unleashed their culinary powers to create a Roly Poly menu of more than 50 rolls and sandwiches, plus a tempting selection of desserts. Slinging sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the sandwich artisans envelop a variety of inventive ingredients inside warm, floury tortillas, from scrambled eggs to pesto chicken to mustard-splashed tuna. Customized sandwiches may also be rolled to suit various diets, preferences, or carbo-loading competitive mimes.