Drive-In Excitement: Sonic Proves Super
Sonic Drive-In is a somewhat national chain of restaurants based in Oklahoma City, OK. The first Sonic opened in Shawnee, OK in 1953. It has expanded to 30 states, though its reach exceeds these boundaries thanks to a national television advertising campaign. While on its vacation, PunCity decided to check out this intriguing franchise.
Pros: Burgers are very good. Special orders don't upset them. At the 3 locations this blog visited, there were no issues with taking off some undesirable condiments. French fries were well-salted. Service is friendly. A huge plus is Sonic's soda. One would be extremely hard-pressed to find a better soda situation in fast food. First off, beverages are served in styrofoam. This is awesome for a few reasons. The styrofoam keeps the beverage cold better than any other disposable container this blog has come across. Beyond this, the styrofoam keeps the beverage cold without the drinker's hand even noticing. All this, plus the added bonus of getting environmentalists mad. Another advantage to Sonic's beverage setup is the amount of options. Because Sonic offers "flavor shots" for any of its beverages, in combination with having both Dr. Pepper and Coca-Cola on the menu, customers effectively have around 20 dark soda options (roughly 10 flavor options, including cherry and vanilla, x 2 "base" dark sodas). Ice cream was pretty good, somewhere between a Blizzard and a McFlurry. Two of the three locations had drive-thrus in addition to the drive-in spaces. One of the three had outdoor seating aside from your car.
Cons: Biggest con is the near-obligation to tip the carhops. It took this blog a couple visits to realize tips are the norm. After paying in exact change at the first location, this blog paid about 7 cents extra at the next location. This blog thought it was weird that the dude didn't give this site any change. So that "tipped" this site off that gratuity was standard. The suspicion was confirmed with another carhop, and from that point on this blog tipped its waiters and waitresses. A good way to avoid having to tip is to use the drive-thru, if provided. Unfortunately PunCity went to a drive-thru-less Sonic after coming to this realization. French fries don't detract from the experience, but aren't up to the very high standards Sonic sets for itself. The lack of indoor dining options is annoying, but as long as you know what you're getting into, it's not so bad.
Overall Ranking: 8.5 out of 10 Fryers. Tipping at a fast food place is not too cool. High marks for styrofoam and soda options. Burgers very good. Offering indoor dining options would raise this score. This would also probably eliminate them conditioning customers to tip. Could also improve ice cream, though the styrofoam ice cream containers are a bonus.
Burger-only Ranking: 8.5 out of 10 Fryers. Very tasty burgers, maybe the meat could be slightly better. Also starts out with onions, mustard and lettuce on it, which is a bunch to ask to remove. Still very awesome burgers though, probably the best this blog has come across besides off-the-scale White Castle.