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first sonic in minnesota, what the..?

So, I've been seeing sonic commercials in our market for years but it seems that we have our first franchise here in Minnesota (the closest one otherwise looks like sioux falls, IA)
I drove by today and there was a giant crowd at the opening (actually kind of sad and doesn't say much for the eats around here maybe..)

So what gives? I need some testimonials from the Sonic connoisseurs out there..what's good? why is it good? why is it such a big deal? (here you may have to imagine yourself seeing sonic commercials for years and then suddenly having one pop up in your midst maybe..)

What's the skinny? (or i'm guessing not so skinny..if I'm wrong tell me!..)

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  1. I like the drive-in aspect. I like to bring my cats for non-vet related drives and it fits the bill.

    I especially like their cherry limeade - very tasty & refreshing. The burgers & such seem similar to most fast food places imo. For me, they are fairly interchangeable. But love the cherry limeade! For some odd reason the cats are very into the tater tots...

    4 Replies
    1. re: meatn3

      Wow, I grew up on Sonic here in the South, don't know where they originated and didn't know they were not everywhere by now. They have cheese tots, foot longs, onion rings to die for. I don't eat fast food but Sonic is one chain fast food place I will go to. And when I was growing up, all the hot girls at the high school were the car hops! Chicks on skates bringing ya' food, you can't beat that!!

      1. re: meatn3

        I haven't been thrilled about the new Sonic because I think there are some great indie places in the Twin Cities that serve the same function, such as Dari-ette in St. Paul, which is a "drive-in", or Conny's Cream Cone, which is just a snack shack, but now that I hear the cherry limeade is good, I feel cherrylime must go and check it out (and report back, please) just on principle! Funny about your cats and tater tots...


        1. re: The Dairy Queen

          I think it is a combination of salt and swat-ability...playing with food seems to add to the deliciousness for the four-legged set!

          Oh, I also find the Sonic commercials funny!

          The Twin Cities are fortunate having a choice of indies - they are getting few and far between in many areas. They get my dollar when I can find them!

        2. re: meatn3

          You bring your kitties for drives? Guess i need to do the same with mine.But don't when you open the window worry about your babies getting out?My old cat Blackie rode one day with me to the Schertz library,but when i opend the door,Blackie started to put his head out,so I took the boy home.Oh how I miss my boy.Funny the cats like tater tots.
          I like to go there sometimes and sit in the car and eat,just like when I was a kid growing up and we'd go to the drive in sometimes and eat.
          Also,at the Sonics here in Schertz you can also sit out side at the picnic benches and eat too. There is one on FM78 that goes to Seguin and RandolphAFB,and then one also at Interstate 35 North and FM3009.Which is strange,since there is only one McDonalds and Jack In The Box in town.
          We have a Starbucks on the I-35 access road,and down where Elbel Road and FM3009 meet,near Clemens H.S.,they plan to put another Starbucks on the corner.They already have some apartments they are building,plus plans for a shopping center there.Schertz was ranked by Money Magazine the No.1 place in Texas to live.Boy,tell that to the deer and rabbits that are being driven out from all the house building around here.
          I sometimes get tator tots instead of fries,and I like how they have hot dogs too.
          I had some sort of chicken sandwich from them that was pretty good.
          Around here too you can get their blackberry tea which is yummy.

        3. The sandwiches are pretty much average for fast food. Their hook is a wide variety of good drinks (cream pie shakes, flavored limeades, power ade slushes, etc.) and some decent and occasionally rotating sides.

          1. As others have said, I think the drinks are the major draw for Sonic. They used to have a killer peach smoothie/slushy thing that had big chunks of peach in it. They may still have it, but it might depend on the location. The food is so-so. I don't think I've ever really enjoyed any of the food I've had, but my sister loves their breakfast burritos.

            And FYI -- Sioux Falls is in South Dakota, Sioux City (about an hour south on I-29) is in Iowa. It's important for residents of both states to get that right.

            1. A cheeseburger with chili, tater tots with cheese and a cherry lime aid- doesn't get much better than that!

              1 Reply
              1. re: Clarkafella

                The drink and slushie selection are what I go for.... that and they serve the whole menu from 6 a.m. through the night... so if the mood hits you can have a greasy burger and a cherry slush on the way to work.

                1. Killer chocolate double malteds...mmmmmmm

                  1. Their fresh fruit slushes cannot be beat on a hot summer day. I also admit to a lingering childhood affection for tater tots. :-) Their hamburgers are decent as well - not as good as a sit down resto, but definitely better than Mickey D's.

                    1. i agree with TDQ. msp has great eats without crappy chains from cali or wherever sonic is from moving in. i also understand we have those crappy cali pizza kitchen places here now. nonetheless i do go to that byerly's across the street from the new sonic and i see the uniformed cop directing traffic into the place and a patio stuffed with fast-food-loving folk. there is no accounting for taste and if america had no fast food restaurants it would have a population of 16 and i even might find myself out of a job. i am sure the place is no more heinous than mcd's or bk or wendy's or pizza hut but come *on* the indies in msp are doing much better food. i guess if you open a sonic next to a taco bell down the street from a mcdonald's the suburbanite caste believe they are getting variety in their diets. phooey.

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: soupkitten

                        Oh goodness..I do agree that the little places are probably better (i.e. dari-ette..I'm sure there is no option for a side of spaghetti with your shrimp basket at Sonic..) but I wouldn't want to give the impression that because there is a big crowd at the new Sonic that all those who are flocking there are low brow or have no appreciation for the finer things ( like dari-ette..!)

                        Just for the record though my family, who consider ourselves quite cosmopolitan, plan to take a trip to Sonic in the near future. Maybe even with our (also very cosmopolitan) cats for tater tots. Not until the crowds die down though. Cats hate crowds, especially crowds of suburbanites with a penchant for cherrylime slushies and chili cheese fries.

                        1. re: cherrylime

                          i come off so cranky sometimes. i too would like to know what sonic's mitigating element is besides the whole "someone on rollerskates brought me food while i'm sitting in my car so that i can eat while sitting in my car" thing. i'm wondering how the concept will go in the winter with ice and snow-- maybe it will be carhops on ice skates. :) my other theory is that it's a way of getting around msp's restaurant smoking ban. "i'm not smoking in the restaurant, i'm smoking *in my car,* dude."

                          1. re: soupkitten

                            it's ok soupkitten..I know where you're coming from. I'm guessing you're right that it will majorly bite to be a carhop when it's -20 in January...Actually most things majorly bite when it's -20 in January now that I think about it.

                            I lived on the eastside of St. Paul in the 70s in grade school (only recently re-patriated) and that little pocket of fast food places on suburban (yes that's the name of the street!) have always been a testing ground for new places. Indeed, the first Zapata's (then Zantigo's, then tacosmell) was there in about 1972. It's where I had some of my first mexican food! In fact, I think it was in exactly the same spot as the Sonic. So, I'm not exactly sure what my point is but there's something comforting about being the nexus of the test market for minnesota fast food. Back then, when we went on a field trip with our elementary school they'd park the bus in the Mcdonald's parking lot and let us run willy nilly to whichever fastfood place we wanted to go to. Me, I was a Zapata's girl...

                            1. re: cherrylime

                              I don't live in that area, but I actually just heard recently that someone was making an attempt to revive Zantigo over there. It looks like there's six locations in the MSP area now.

                              http://www.zantigo.com/ (Warning: moderately obnoxious Flash)

                            2. re: soupkitten

                              I think the smoking issue is a draw at drive-ins. It is also handy for folks with babies or animals - no need to exit the car and there is a certain amount of privacy so to speak. My first restaurant experience was at 2 weeks old in the car of my financially strapped parents treating themselves to a big night out at Steak-n-Shake! For some reason the meal was more memorable for them than for me....

                              1. re: soupkitten

                                The reverse is also true...it ain't exactly a walk in the park in down here in FL, where it will be 90+ for the next couple of months. I just don't get this concept.

                                1. re: cavandre

                                  In MN, we experience both hot and cold temperature extremes. It will be 90+ in Minnesota, too (our weather comes from the Gulf Stream, except when the Gulf Stream falls short and we get the arctic blast ), at various points over the next couple of months. So, the carhops would theoretically have to serve in the summer on skates in 90+ degree heat and in the winter in not only sub-freezing temps (and on ice and in snow) but even sub-zero temps.

                                  I don't know who is going to want to go sit in the parking lot and eat in their car when it's minus 10, even if someone does bring you your food on roller-skates or ice skates. We have lots of independent drive-in type restaurants in MN, like the Dari-ette in St. Paul http://farm1.static.flickr.com/53/116..., Conny's Creamy Cone in St. Paul http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2178/2..., Gordy's Hi Hat in Cloquet http://gordys-hihat.com/Images/gBldgS..., Porky's Drive-in http://farm1.static.flickr.com/51/113... and the Drive-in in Taylor's Falls http://www.taylorsfalls.com/drivein.html. Many of those are closed in winter for the season because it's either too cold for the employees to work there (how well-insulated are those little buildings?) or because of lack of interest on the part of the customers or both. Gordy's Hi Hat is open year-round, but they've enclosed the whole building...


                            3. re: soupkitten

                              I'm pretty sure Sonic originated in Oklahoma.

                            4. Just in case anyone is interested:

                              Sonic is a chain out of OK.

                              FWIW: many Sonics sell ice by the bag. There have been some passionate threads in the past about how good their ice is...I've never really paid much attention to the ice, so can't venture an opinion!

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: meatn3

                                Sonic does have the best ice. I usually get the slushies, but sometimes just have to go get a cherry coke there just for the ice.

                                1. re: Firegoat

                                  Are you able to describe why the ice is so good? I hear/read many say it is good, but never any details! Inquiring minds...

                                  1. re: meatn3

                                    The only way I can think of to describe it is the term we used when we were kids..... its "rabbit pellet" ice.
                                    the ice is about maybe 1/4 inch in length, and shaped like a pellet you'd feed a rabbit. The size makes for a kind of slushy texture in your soda, and is great for chomping for us ice chompers out there after the drink is over.

                                    1. re: meatn3

                                      Have you ever been hospitalized? Sonic ice is a lot like hospital ice.

                                        1. re: smarsh

                                          I have, but I guess the ice just didn't make that much of an impression except just being a better way to moisten my mouth than the wet sponge thing they gave me after surgery.

                                          I hope my next chance to try it will be as a visitor rather than a patient!

                                          I think I'm just not much on noticing ice ;-) I generally don't care for really cold drinks and have never been an ice cruncher, so I suspect that leaves me at a disadvantage on appreciating the finer points of ice.

                                  2. Sonic came into the Des Moines area around 6 years ago. I ate there shortly after they opened. I don't remember what I had, and I never went back, so that must mean it was uneventful. The Des Moines locations closed a couple years ago, but there are still a few in the suburbs. Maybe a franchisee problem.

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: Bobfrmia

                                      I'm thinking they might not have been able to beat Culver's.

                                      1. re: spellweaver16

                                        okay wait. because culver's is not as crappy as mcdonald's, and has its fans like in & out, but let's face it, it's pretty crappy (i sampled it twice back when i still ate fast food). so you are saying that sonic rates on the crappiness meter *between* mcdonalds at the low end and culver's at the higher? sonic is not somehow better than culver's, in any way? i would not mind getting some sonic and culver's coming in if the mcd's and bk went out but if we're just diversifying cruddy fast food i still have issues.

                                        1. re: soupkitten

                                          personally, i would rate the food at sonic to be worse than mcds. for me it goes like this: culvers > mcds > sonic

                                          except for the drinks at sonic, they trump all.

                                          1. re: soupkitten

                                            I suppose I should have clarified. Sonic started moving into Des Moines long after Culver's, and Culver's had an established foothold there. Many of the Sonic locations went up right next to Culver's and I'm thinking they didn't pull enough customers away to stay afloat.

                                        2. re: Bobfrmia


                                          We occasionally eat at the one on Merle Hay, which technically is the suburbs but barely. I like their chili dogs and malts / slushes and think their rings are pretty good. I also like some of their burgers on toast. Except for Hardees, I guess it's my favorite fast food burger joint in town. Except for Be-Bops. And Culvers. Ah, heck, maybe it isn't that great. But it is cheap.

                                          1. re: jwagnerdsm

                                            Oh man, I miss B-Bop's! I'm going to make a point of going there the next time I'm in DSM.

                                        3. I think the skinny, at least for me, is that I'm from the midwest where sonic was born. Sonic would come to small towns where no other chain would tread. It became a part of growing up in small town Oklahoma/Kansas. A place to meet up after school, a place your friends worked to make extra cash, the "turn around" point on the main drag on Saturday night.
                                          I don't know if that's going to sell in a big market... but years later, I still enjoy dropping in for a cherry slush.... or if I'm being good they now have diet cherry flavoring for a diet cherry coke.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Firegoat

                                            I think it's similar for Minnesota, except that the joint everyone went when they were kids was Dairy Queen, which was born in MN. Culvers, I believe, is a Wisconsin-based chain, only it's not as old. Only from the 80's.


                                          2. My favorites at Sonic: Cherry Limeades (get 'em between 2-4 p.m. for 1/2 price), foot-long chili cheese coney w/onions and mustard (they're bad for you, they're probably full of things you shouldn't know about, but I need one every few months) the tater tots if they're hot and fresh (sometimes they come out a little cold). The Java Chiller coffee drinks are pretty addictive, too. I can't vouch for their breakfast items, I'm never up that early.
                                            And here in Kansas, the carhops don't wear skates anymore.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: podunkboy

                                              I don't think they wear skates here in the Carolinas either. Or at least not at the Sonics near me.

                                              1. re: Suzy Q

                                                I think somebody who couldn't skate sued to get a job there, so it is now "optional" to skate at a Sonic.

                                            2. I grew up in Sonicland, and I have enjoyed seeing it grow to some of the markets that weren't blessed with Sonic before I moved there. Sonic has seen some quality issues with their rapid expansion, but as many have noted, their drinks are probably their biggest seller. They will make almost anything, and that pellet ice is awesome. I just wish the closest one to me wasn't so far from my house or I would buy from them instead of from the store.

                                              My biggest piece of advice to all who are trying Sonic for the first time is DO NOT GET THE CHICKEN!!!! I promise, if you get anything with chicken in it you will hate Sonic and never want to return. It happens to every person I know who goes to a new Sonic and has a chicken sandwich or the chicken tenders or some other chicken item. Get a burger. Get a coney. Get some tots. Get a drink. Get anything, but whatever you do don't get the chicken.

                                              1. I tried the Sonics in St. Paul....I have eaten at tons of them down South. Maybe because it is new, it seems like the service and taste is off-key. The one in St. Paul feels like you are in the "hood" with the people serving you with baggy pants/ hip-hop wear and poor manners. I was disappointed in this Sonic.

                                                1. My mom took us to Sonic all the time growing up and it is one of the few fast-food places I'll go to. I like the fact that you can get Diet Dr. Pepper or Diet Cherry Coke whereas most places don't give you that option. Their strawberry lemon slush is also boss. Foodwise I generally only get the onion rings or a vanilla soft serve cone.

                                                  1. I'm waiting for the one in Bloomington to be built before I try it. I rarely venture over to St. Paul. A Sonic will be going up a block south of Southtown where a KFC has been and has just closed.

                                                    1. I went to the St. Paul Sonic two weeks ago with my husband and we were very disappointed. My husband ordered a burger (which was unseasoned), french fries (that tasted like air AND were cold) and cheesecake bites. The cheesecake bites were good, but I wouldn't go back for just those.

                                                      I ordered a grilled chicken sandwich, which also had zero flavor. I was starving and I couldn't finish it. It was gross.

                                                      I don't know if we went on a bad day, but I don't think I'll go back when Wendy's is so much better!

                                                      1. My idea of the perfect Sonic commercial...Just as either of the idiots starts to speak, a guy raises from the back seat with a short piece of 2x4 & knocks them both out to shut them up. Nothing gets me reaching for the remote faster than the current Sonic commercials.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. i'll be in minnesota for a few days. will definitely try and check out this local upstart. i'm all about supporting little drive-ins like this

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: beelzebozo

                                                            If you're all about supporting "little drive ins", then may I make a suggestion? Go to the Dariette Drive-in (close to this Sonic) in St. Paul or If over near Minneapolis, the Wagner Drive in, located in St. Louis Park. These are the local, family-owned "little drive in's" that need your support. (I'm guessing that a national corp. chain like Sonic is doing OK). Oh yeah, the food is waaay better at both of them too. If you must, stop into Sonic for your slushy drink and chewable ice afterward.

                                                            1. re: autmommy

                                                              second Autmommy's recs. wagner's (we always pronounced it like the composer's name, tongue in cheek) has great cheeseburgers.

                                                              i will add conny's creamy cone-- it's like an independent dairy queen-type place with an astonishing 24 flavors of soft-serve! you can't miss the front garden of bright red & white pansies, to go with the bright red & white everything else about the walk-up-order-at-window-go-to-other-window-to-pick-up restaurant. conny's strawberry-banana malt kicks butt.

                                                              just realized i'm saying the same thing as TDQ's post far above! this thread has been going for some time.

                                                              here's the wikis:

                                                              Dairy-Ette Drive In [SEE DARI-ETTE DRIVE IN]
                                                              1440 Minnehaha Ave E, Saint Paul, MN 55106

                                                              Conny's Creamy Cone
                                                              1197 Dale St, N St Paul, MN

                                                              1. re: soupkitten

                                                                i was kidding. i wouldn't eat at sonic in such a unique thriving town in a million years.

                                                                i DID eat at the tanpopo noodle house this evening, though, and i was thoroughly impressed. the noodles were fantastic, the tonkatsu was tasty, and the staff was very sweet.

                                                                tomorrow evening i'm thinking i may go for the turkish food at black sea. conny's cream cone sounds yummy too. you guys are too sweet for the recommendations to such a silly facetious post.

                                                          2. Whatever all you haters!!!!

                                                            Chili Cheeseburger + mustard and onions = Delicious
                                                            Onion Rings
                                                            Cherry Limeade vs. Chocolate Malt

                                                            There's a time and place for everything. Sometimes...it's time for SONIC!