Back in my early 20’s my grandmother and I took a road trip from Florida to Colorado. She said that if we needed to make any rest stops it should be a McDonalds because the restrooms were always clean. She was right. Every location, state after state, offered shiny clean restrooms. I’m not sure if that’s still the case today, but that taught me something about customer service and what makes for return business: consistency.
As my family prepares for our summer travels the kids have been extremely vocal about where they would enjoy eating during our road trip and apparently they are big fans of places that they can balance a burger and fries with something sweet to drink like a milkshake. Over the last ten years my family had driven coast-to-coast – think In-and-Out to Steak ‘n Shake – on various routes so we have certainly experienced our share of burger restaurants. We find that when we are on the road it’s best to keep with restaurants we already know and love for a number of reasons.
-While my children are adventurous eaters, I’ve noticed they have an easier time knowing what they want to order at familiar places. I’ll save the “new” or “exotic” menu items for our cruise ports.
-We have an idea of how much the meal will cost. Budgeting for a vacation is much easier when we are familiar with menu prices.
-Looping back to my intro, consistency is key. We know what to expect as far as service, cleanliness, and quality.
This time we’re heading south and know for sure that we’ll be making some stops at these spots:
1. Sonic – American’s Drive-In. There’s something really fun about pushing a red button, ordering a meal, then being served in the car by someone zipping around on roller skates. Sonic’s roots reach back to the 1950’s and while the music playing on the loudspeakers and the technology is more advanced the Sonic’s original idea of focusing on hamburgers, hotdogs, and root beer hasn’t changed much. Personally, I’ve always been a cherry limeade fan but I can’t wait to try the new SONIC Energy Drinks – they are sparkling energy drinks infused with natural energy, antioxidant vitamin E and other essential vitamins. Plus, I read Sonic has a 1/2 price happy hour everyday from 2-4pm! Did you know July is National Hot Dog Month! It deems appropriate that Sonic would then be introducing the Croissant Dog. While I’m not a huge hot dog eater this one sounds pretty good!
2. Johnny Rockets – The Original Hamburger. While this restaurant didn’t open until the 1980’s its theme is based off classic American and as for road tripping, this summer’s Route 66-themed burgers and ice cream float are a perfect fit and the burgers follow the trail: Midwest inspired Big Pastrami Pretzel Burger from Chicago, Heartland-inpsired: Veggie Boca Burger and, West Coast-inspired: California BLT Avocado Chicken Sandwich with fresh California Avocados. My kids are going to go crazy over the summer floats made with Cherry Coke, Fanta Orange and Barq’s Root Beer. Life is good.
3. Culver’s. My husband and I had never heard of a Culver’s until we moved to Minnesota. We were pleasantly surprised to discover how delicious the burgers are as well as the rest of the menu, which ranges from walleye and cod to ruebens to fresh, loaded salads (cashew chicken is my favorite). My older two are outgrowing the kids’ meals but they sure appreciated the free frozen custard scoop that comes with every meal – the coupon can be saved for later, too. The key item here are the Butter Burgers. What’s also nice about Culver’s, there’s a nice selection of side orders including, my favorite, green beans.
Now, let’s hit the road. Where are you going this summer and what are your favorite road stops?
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