The chefs at Sumo Sushi create specialty sushi rolls and teriyaki meals for lunch and dinner. They serve guests fresh nigiri and sashimi such as salmon, eel, and squid. Beer, sake, and wine can help wash down any number of sushi rolls, such as the Hawaii, with bluefin tuna over a California roll, or shrimp tempura with crabmeat and avocado.
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 rainbow-striped umbrella hanging over the Quack Dogs cart does a decent job of enticing curious passersby. Then again, the flavorful aromas of fresh-grilled hotdogs drifting into the air certainly can't hurt. Currently parked at two spots—McGraw Plaza and Cal Anderson Park—Quack Dogs puts lunchtime hunger to rest with its menu of hotdogs, sausages, and specialty choices. The cart doles out classics, such as jumbo Nathan's Famous dogs. But it also cooks up some unconventional creations, including apple wood-smoked bratwurst and spicy Louisiana hot links made of pork and beef.
When to Go
What to Drink: Setsuna serves a variety of beer, wine, and liquor imported directly from Japan to help make the experience as authentic as possible. Sample some sweet plum wine, grab a bottle of Sapporo lager, or sip on some 12-year Hakushu whiskey.
Izakaya: a Japanese style of dining where dishes are ordered and brought to the table in a consistent, casual fashion designed to encourage sharing.
Hamachi: young yellowtail, popular in sushi.
If You Can't Make It, Try This: I Love Bento (7500 35th Avenue NE) serves up Japanese cuisine such as chicken teriyaki and tuna rolls in an unpretentious setting.
At El Norte Lounge, some things change, and some things stay the same. Holding down the fort is a coolly festive atmosphere, a fresh Latin menu, and an inventive assortment of cocktails. But practically every night between Wednesday and Saturday guarantees a different type of live performance?and with it, its own distinct mood or theme. Between bites of shrimp empanadas, crab quesadillas, and guacamole-smothered tacos, you might peruse the lounge's diverse schedule. Thursdays mean karaoke. Other nights host everything from '80s New Wave dance parties to acoustic rock to Cinco de Mayo?inspired retrospectives of Mexican tunes. Every full moon means Goth Night, which might spotlight industrial music, burlesque performances, or DJ sets from local ravens. Listeners, dancers, and eaters populate the inside of the lounge as well as the outdoor area, which includes both a patio and a deck.
Chefs ready the blasting heat of Mehak Indian Cuisine's clay oven for a smorgasbord of authentic Indian curries, breads, and baked meat and veggies. The tandoor's fire rages seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., searing pillowy naan, lamb boti masala, and chicken goa curry. The chef carefully balances spices and flavors to create recipes far more refined than the hastily prepared meals found in the roadrunner’s tiffins.