Originally branded as the Top Hat Drive-In, Sonic didn?t acquire its nationally recognized name until 1959?six years after its inception in 1953. Today, the franchise 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 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 Limeades for Learning, which helps to fund educational projects and retirement plans for classroom guinea pigs.
Ever since Jerry Murphy opened Murf’s Frozen Custard & Jumbo Burgers in Waukesha in 1993, he and his team have been dishing up what he calls “local, quality eats.” To him, that means burgers made to order and loaded with toppings; Friday fish frys; and sloppy fried-egg sandwiches piled with an egg, coleslaw, tomatoes, and french fries—and then served with a knife and fork. For dessert, there’s small-batch frozen custard made fresh throughout the day.
At Murf's in Brookfield and Waukesha, the cooks use top-notch ingredients for everything they make. Their 5-ounce patties are made from a custom sirloin blend that Jerry obtains locally, and their burgers and sandwiches are served on lightly toasted Paielli’s Bakery buns. “Local, quality eats,” Jerry says. “Everything we serve is high-quality, fresh, and made to order.”
Diners can order their food for the dining room or devour marinated and grilled chicken-breast sandwiches with piping hot fries out on the patio.
Since 2000, historic downtown Waukesha's House of Guinness has maintained the convivial atmosphere of a pub located in the Irish countryside. Inside, bartenders serve microbrews and handcrafted beers alongside classic European imports such as Franziskaner, Guinness, and Strongbow. They also stock many Irish spirits, including a 12-year Tullamore Dew Black Bush and an 18-year Jameson that goes down smoother than a bowling ball in a bobsleigh track. Traditional bar food, including pizzas and pasties, accompany the pours, which guests can savor while watching the game or tapping their toes along to live Irish music.
Between the years of 1904 and 1944, the Greek Revival–style mansion that now holds Eric's Porter - Haus was home to former Waukesha mayor Isaac Lain. Today, it's a bustling supper club where servers make the rounds to multiple dining rooms, one of which is equipped with a fireplace lined with fresh cookies for Santa. Chef Chris prepares Old World specialties such as black forest schnitzel made with natural range-fed veal. Another specialty is steak; tender filet mignon sizzles alongside 24-ounce porterhouse cuts. Bottles imported from Germany, Australia, Italy, Spain, and California also make appearances on the wine list.
Michael's Italian Restaurant's kitchen cupboards are bare. Their sparseness doesn't stem from a food shortage, but from the eatery's devotion to fresh ingredients. To wit: chefs deftly knead fresh batches of homemade pizza dough daily, and they coat the disks with ladles of from-scratch pizza sauce. They simmer organic beef with fresh-squeezed lemon juice, and they fly in fresh fish from Chicago each morning before enhancing the fillets with white wine lemon sauce. In addition to traditional dishes, they've added contemporary flourishes to the menu such as gluten-free pizzas and pastas and meatballs equipped with 4G technology. Regardless of which entree guests select from the expansive menu, knowledgeable servers are always on hand to suggest pairings from the eatery's vast wine list.
• For $20, you get $40 worth of Asian fare and drinks during dinner. • For $10, you get $20 worth of Asian fare and drinks during lunch. The skilled chefs at Meiji Cuisine, which serves Chinese and Japanese dishes, sear entrees over hibachi grills, roll fresh sushi, and craft Chinese specialties. Prepare for midnight Battleship games against an old sea captain with the War Bar dinner combination, a maritime medley of shrimp, scallops, crabmeat, and squid ($17.95). Hibachi entrees serve up Japanese-style grilled eats with a choice of vegetables and meats, including chicken ($16) and swordfish ($21). During lunch, sample maki sushi combos ($9 for two rolls, $11 for three) that include the eel cucumber roll, smoked eel wrapped in a blanket of eel sauce and lounging on a bed of sticky rice. Or feast on a plate of Chinese-style sweet-and-sour shrimp ($12.75), which leaves diners sweet on their lunch and sour on their afternoon return to work.