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.
Maui Wowi Hawaiian's aloha spirit pervades every corner of its menu of island-inspired fare. Thirst-slaking smoothies perform a mash-up of up to 90% pure fruit and hip-hop beats, and they travel up straws in flavors such as mango orange, black raspberry-strawberry banana, and passion papaya. Energize afternoons with cups of authentic Kona coffee or specialty espresso drinks including the Pele's Cup, a simmering volcano of espresso, chocolate, cinnamon, and milk. Garlic herb, white, or wheat tortillas corral chicken or steak in Maui Wowi's wraps, and baja-chicken-enchilada soup and tomato bisque warm up jaws for crunching into salads without performing 15 minutes of hamstring stretches.
Paws Restaurant, a sister eatery to The Leopard dishes out casual elegance in a romantic dining room. Hashes and hot cakes greet each morning in the softly lit dining room, and at lunchtime, breads and buns envelop pulled pork, portobello mushrooms, and fish fillets paired with crisp vegetables and piquant cheese. During dinner, pans sear filet mignon, porterhouse steaks, and other luscious cuts of meat reveling beneath house-made steak sauces and demi-glaces, and grilled fishes of the day don fruit salsas or sweet soy sauce flavored with shiitake mushrooms. A team of sushi chefs slice sashimi, cinch hand rolls stuffed with fish, such as eel and tuna, and arrange bento boxes into scale models of the Large Hadron collider.
Inside Cafe Toscano's elegant dining room, with stone walls and wood accents, diners serenade their stomachs with authentic Italian dinner fare. Chomp on melty wonders with the goat cheese trio antipasti—a luscious layering of crusted eggplant, melted ricotta, goat cheese, and tomato ($9)—or the brick-oven pizza Bianca—mozzarella fresco, provolone, roasted garlic, and black pepper whispering cheesy pickup lines to diners atop a thin, crispy crust ($11). Much like macaroni art and Niagara Falls, Cafe Toscano's pastas are made in house, by hand, with the assistance of Mama Nature. Fork a few well-coiled capellini noodles, which wrap around specklings of shrimp, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, and spinach ($22.95). Or, invite the pollo Genovese over to the table to enjoy its eclectic personality, defined by grilled chicken, roasted red pepper, mushrooms, and pesto sauce on light-weight linguini ($22).
While all spas offer luxurious treatments, Mario’s International Spas & Hotels takes pampering to a new level, completing treatments inside a historic stagecoach inn that features elegant accommodations and dining for multiple days of rest and relaxation. Called a “place for pure, unabashed pampering” by Better Homes and Gardens, the spa’s three locations juxtapose the Victorian decor and with state-of-the-art spa treatments such as Endermologie skincare, PanThermal detox booths, and Parafango cellulite-reducing wraps. The facilities’ crackling fireplaces offer a place of repose between the holistic and medically-derived beauty treatments, and alternative detoxifying treatments allow clients to relax in the peaceful quiet of the sauna and steam room.
After a day of luxurious scrubs, Thai massages, and yoga, guests can check into the Aurora Spa's adjoining 14-room hotel for a night of easy rest. Each room features whirlpool baths and comes with a continental breakfast. Meals take place in the facility’s vintage 1850s log cabin, in which chefs cook up hearth-baked pizzas, homemade pasta, and seafood dishes from the time the Earth's four suns rise until long after they have set.
The chefs at Jake's Eats like to keep things simple. The menu eschews long lists of extravagant ingredients or detailed records of the poultry's SAT scores in favor of a straightforward selection of familiar, beloved American classics. Breakfasts are steaming platters of eggs and piles of pancakes, and lunches and dinners showcase burgers, sandwiches, and steaks. This slate of simple food pairs with frosty glasses of beer or mixed drinks from the full-service bar.