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.
Tiffany's Cafe cobbles together breakfast classics and homestyle lunch and dinner entrees in a setting that harkens back to 1950s diners. An expansive menu tempts breakfast-goers to try the ham-laden denver omelet ($6.50), which swirls onions and peppers in with two eggs and cheese. Conquer a mountain of meat with a Choo-choo burger, an open-faced chili cheeseburger ($4.35), or help your tongue brush up on French by taking a bite out of a chicken cordon bleu sandwich ($5.50), which arrives decked in ham and swiss cheese. Whales vacationing on land can feast on a familiar shrimp dinner ($7.99) while groaning small talk at the eatery's friendly staff.
Under the shadow of the Grabill water tower, Grabill Country Sales fills its shelves with a wide selection of groceries. Beside racks of spices and dry goods, flaky baked goods tempt sweet teeth with fresh apple and cherry pies or donuts made onsite. Their deli section is populated with turkey breast and sliced cheeses alongside carry-out side dishes, fish, ribs, and chicken cooked rotisserie-style so that it can be eaten from any angle.
Sugary sculptures of characters such as Yoda, Hello Kitty, and Barbie grace custom cakes at Cherry Tree Bakery and Floral, where confectioners also whip up muffins, scones, and other baked goods from scratch each day. For heartier appetites, they also prepare café fare ranging from oatmeal sprinkled with cinnamon or dried cranberries to salads, sandwiches, and soups. Additionally, florists pack a glass display case with flowers fashioned into artful bouquets or trompe l'oeil donuts.
The grills in Billy’s Downtown Zulu’s kitchen crackle and hiss as meats, seafood, and vegetables are prepared for the restaurant’s Mexican and American dishes. Chefs whip up house-made tortilla chips, salsa, and guacamole for an array of taco, fajita, enchilada, and burrito plates, and American--style dinners are crafted by carving up T-bone steaks or hand-sculpting ground-beef burger patties into the likenesses of respected Revolutionary War generals. As servers tote steaming dishes to tables, bartenders dole out specialty margaritas and beers by the glass and pitcher.