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.
The Wedgwood location of QFC is smaller than some among this grocery chain’s portfolio, but with friendly staff and late hours it fulfills shoppers needs for organics, staples and healthy foods. Everything is in its place at this well-designed store, with long aisles that stock the basics, though a full-service bakery, deli with prepared meals, butcher department, coffee bar, and an extensive beer and wine department all hug the exterior walls, making for next-level shopping that supplies more than just the usual canned goods and prepackaged breads. A colorful floral department offers seasonal features like seeds and plants for the yard in summer and festive plants for the winter holidays. And if you’re picking up a bottle of wine and premade meal for dinner with a loved one, grab a DVD from the Redbox inside to complete the night.
Formed from about 17,000 islands that stretch from the coast of Thailand to the border of Papua New Guinea, the nation of Indonesia encompasses many climates and cultures. Recognizing that diversity, Indo Cafe's chefs strive to serve up an authentic sampling of the country's eclectic cuisine. The smartly curated menu ranges from daging tuturuga?a curry beef stew from Manado, on the northern island of Sulawesi?to bakmi goreng jawa?a Javanese-style egg-noodle stir-fry. If you're stopping by for the first time or have had your memory wiped since the last time, Seattle Weekly's 2012 Voracious Dining Guide recommends the ayam goreng fried chicken, a pan-Indonesian specialty which Seattle Weekly calls "extra-crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, and best topped with fiery chili paste and paired with cooling, slightly sweet coconut rice." Indonesian produce stars in the desserts; the chefs fill whole coconuts with their savory-sweet pudding and make their own avocado- and durian-flavored ice creams.
Framed Indonesian art accents Indo Cafe's main dining space as well as three private rooms that can each host a party of up to 30 people or two giants on a romantic dinner date. Strengthening the restaurant's international ties, its owners are also active supporters of the Children's Foundation of Southeast Asia, which rallies local business owners to help build children's homes and schools in Southeast Asia.
Meet the Owner: Rod Neldam is a third-generation baker. His grandfather ran a bakery in Oakland called Neldam’s Danish Bakery for many years, beginning in 1929.
While You’re Waiting: Take a look around. The walls sport the work of local artists, and management swaps in a new batch of pictures, paintings, and photographs at the beginning of every month.
When to Go: Grateful Bread hosts open mic nights every second Tuesday of the month from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Inside Tip: If you’re in the market for something specific, make sure to time your visit correctly. Challah is only made on Thursdays and Fridays, and wild rice and onion breads only emerge from the ovens on Saturdays.
While You’re in the Neighborhood: Take a stroll through the four acres of native plants, orchards, and nurseries at the Magnuson Community Garden (7400 Sand Point Way NE).
If You Can’t Make It, Try This: Grateful Bread hits the farmers’ market circuit Wednesday through Sunday, making stops at Wallingford, Queen Anne, and Shoreline Farmers’ Markets. Check the website for a current schedule.
A health-food emporium, Thrive offers gluten-free, vegetarian, and 95% raw and organic meals. Along with its lush, natural inventory, Thrive offers local community members the tools to create meals from those foods on their own. From the kale-packed raw juices to the cooking-with-kale classes, Thrive aims to make healthy eating delicious by dispelling myths that eating kale is the first step in turning into a garden gnome.
Monika Kinsman is the founder behind the scenes at Thrive, and she has always been ambitious. She drew inspiration as a child from her jet-setting single mom and entrepreneurial grandmother, and set her sights on joining the FBI after graduating high school. The unfortunate setbacks of her and her mother’s poor health momentarily altered her ambitions, opening her eyes to the healing powers of raw foods and the inspiration of community dining. Two master’s degrees and an internship with the FBI later, Monika realized that what she really wanted was to work for the betterment of herself and her community, and with that, Thrive was born.
Quarter-pound beef burgers, chicken breasts and veggie or salmon patties come in all makes and models at Rain City Burgers. With less than ten tables and a small four-seat counter, this cozy chrome-accented diner dishes up plates for any Seattle palate. Gluten-free buns are on offer, low-carbers can dress their burger in a lettuce wrap and traditionalists can mix and match from a variety of cheeses, fresh vegetables and boutique toppings like avocado, Portobello mushrooms, jalapeño slices, bacon or Sriracha hot sauce. Fountain sodas and more than a dozen varieties of milkshake complete the meal at this popular corner joint. And fortunately for on-the-go eaters, Rain City’s food is perfectly portable; just don’t forget to load up on extra napkins before heading out with these juicy burgers.