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.
A lengthy lineup of traditional game-day fare and a sports atmosphere captivate fans at Fox and Hound - Bailey's, where the kitchen remains open as late as its neighboring fully stocked bar. Chefs cook until the wee hours of the morning and always until the bar closes, baking Bavarian pretzel starters, crafting towers of onion rings, and preparing hand-battered chicken tenders that are cooked until they are golden brown. They blend their own seasonings to sprinkle over grilled-to-order burgers, and draw from a diverse roster of cheeses and toppings to crown their wood-oven-inspired flatbreads.
While manning the bars, bartenders tap into a stash of libations, such as UV Whipped vodka and Patron Silver tequila, to mix their specialty cocktails. To further foster a sporting ambiance, high-definition TVs glow with sports games and custom music-video playlists, and guests partake in pastimes of ump bashing, billiards, or competitive people watching.
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.
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.
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.