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.
A basket of warm housemade bread greets eaters at Tutto Pasta Trattoria, where a homey vibe welcomes diners at dinner and lunch. The menu is a geometry book of pasta shapes, which guests can peruse to prepare for quizzes on spaghetti, angel hair, rigatoni, penne, spaghetti, and housemade tortellini. The noodles share kitchen space with chicken, veal, and seafood dishes, as well as thin-crust pizzas baked in a wood-burning oven rather than a space-rocket launch pad.
At night, shadows blanket the eatery's warmly toned walls, arched-booth alcoves, countryside murals, and outdoor seating area. Amid this dim lighting, bartenders mix martinis and serve wine from their expansive selection, which is displayed on overhead wine racks.
Rookies Food & Spirits sports a menu brimming with hearty, all-American fare in a family-friendly, sports-themed atmosphere. Right off the bat, begin with a whole pound of home-run hot wings slathered in Rookies' signature sauce ($7.29), or pinch-hit a half-pound of Wisconsin white-cheddar cheese curds ($5.79). Rookies' homemade soups ($2.49+) provide an appetizing accompaniment to the quarter-pound bullpen bratwurst ($3.99) from Stoddard's Country Grove Market. Step up to the plate with the Major Leaguer, a half-pound patty of charbroiled, USDA Choice beef pinstriped with delicate seasonings ($5.29). Patrons harboring home-run-sized hunger can dine on broiled cod ($12.99) or a 10-ounce rib-eye ($12.99). Seafood lovers can feast on a Friday fish fry, and Guinness World Records sticklers can bring stopwatches to time Rookies' hops-filled happy hours, which they claim to be the longest in Dane County.
Bean Sprouts Café's wholesome, vegetarian-friendly menu supplies palates with a nutritious array of fresh smoothies, snacks, salads, sandwiches, wraps, pasta, and entrees in portions to please kids ($5.25 for a main dish), adults ($7.95), and big daddies ($9.50). Gather enough forearm strength to punish burly bullies with the spinach, gruyere, and hummus wrap, or satisfy a Lilliputian appetite with the turkey or veggie-tofu Bunchkin Burger. All main dishes come with a choice of healthy side, such as edamame or freshly harpooned banana octopus. Organic baby bites with clever names such as Pea Diddy and Sam I Yam ($2.50 each) and family meal packs cement Bean Sprouts' familial air like a Scythian blood oath.
Within the rustic limestone walls of a 19th-century former millhouse, chefs at The Old Feed Mill dish up classic comfort fare inspired by Midwestern home cooking. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, the building's water-powered mill and solar-powered horse carriages fueled a successful commercial flouring business. However, with an uptick in highways and cars, the mill's beneficial connection to the once-prosperous railroad system diminished and the building was eventually abandoned. Current owners Dan and Nancy Viste began refurbishing the building in 1992, and today The Old Feed Mill is a member of the Vistes' quartet of related businesses. The Millstone Mercantile, The Old Feed Mill's onsite gift shop, flaunts an eclectic cache of items, including locally made artwork, handmade quilts, and the first beard that Abraham Lincoln ever stroked.