1380 Deer Park Ave.
North Babylon, NY 11703
I love celebrating all the different national food holidays I keep discovering through the Hungry Girl emails I get or my Google Reader (if you don’t use Google Reader, you definitely should, it’s an amazing resource).
So what’s today’s national food holiday? None other than the classic American staple: French fries.
Who doesn’t love fries? I know I sure love them. My favorite kind is waffle fries. I remember going to Onion Alley in Westport, C.T. (where I used to live) and get waffle fries with my hamburgers. Sadly, Onion Alley closed years ago and now is the home of an amazing barbecue restaurant, Bobby Q’s. Now, I can get waffle fries down the street at Friendly’s. But with several kinds of food and drink, you remember your first time and can tell the story.
So where did these fried potatoes get its start?
According to the Encyclopedia of Food and Culture, we’ll set the scene in 1802. The president at the time, Thomas Jefferson, had French fries at a state dinner after returning to the States from a trip to France, according to the encyclopedia. However, these weren’t popular until the 1920s, when WWI veterans returned from Europe, as well as in the 1930s and 1940s, when drive-in restaurants opened and sold fries, according to the encyclopedia.
Which brings me to today’s food-venture: SONIC of Long Island.
SONIC Drive-In has gained a TON of hype, let me tell you. Ever since I moved here four years ago, commercials have popped up on TV advertising the drive-in restaurants burgers, shakes and of course, fries and tater tots.
Here’s an example of one of the many Sonic commercials:
But what always bothered me about these commercials is that there wasn’t actually a SONIC in the area at the time. Even in CT, this was the case. Did you notice that too, everyone? I always thought it was odd to have a commercial for a fast food restaurant that is nowhere to be found. It’s like wanting something you can’t have!
So alas, for years I always wondered what this SONIC Drive-In restaurant experience was like. Until a year ago, when I was moving up to Syracuse, N.Y. for graduate school.
Picture this: we’re driving up I-81 through Pennsylvania, and lo and behold I see a sign for dining options off an exit. One was a SONIC! I get all excited and tell my mom how we have to go and try it.
It was glorious. Not only do you drive up to your own personal drive-thru window, a car hop roller skates his or her way over to your with your food. And the food? Definitely more quality over the regular day-to-day chains we see along the main roads.
It felt like a victory! I had finally tried the food the TV commercials had been tempting me with.
And now, these drive-ins have been sprouting up even closer to where I live. First, one opened in C.T. in Wallingford, and now I see, according to the Sonic of CT‘s website, there’s a new one in Manchester, and tentative ones in C.T. cities including New Haven, Milford and Southington. Exciting!
And a few months ago, News 12 Long Island announced the opening of SONIC in Long Island, the first opening in North Babylon at the end of April. Ever since its opening, all I’ve heard about is the massive lines outside the place with people waiting for their precious time in the car hop spots.
Today, as it is a national French fry holiday, I decided to check this out for myself. I drove the 40 minutes to North Babylon to see what all the teased TV hype is about, again.
When I got there, I had passed the entrance of 3-4 cars waiting in line to pull into car hop spots. I turned around in a shopping plaza and made my way back to the line. I got there about 2 p.m. and the wait actually wasn’t so bad. It was about 3 cars long, and it took about 3-5 minutes wait to pull in.
Once I parked my car, I had noticed the menu was a bit smaller than the other SONIC Drive-In I had been to. Regardless, I got a cheeseburger with the works (ketchup, mayo, mustard and all the trimmings), large french fry, and to drink, as I had just gotten there for the Happy Hour (from 2-4 p.m. you can get 1/2 price drinks and slushes! yes!) , I got a chocolate shake. I haven’t had a milkshake in awhile, so I was craving it!
About 5 or so minutes later, Alyssa, my car hop donned in a lime green outfit and roller skates, had my food on a bright red tray. I took the bag and first found the main event of today: the french fries.
These fries were delicious, and definitely better than the ones I had in P.A.! The fries reminded me of Burger King fries with its slight coating on them. I loved (!) that the fries weren’t salty. Too salty fries = blech, no thank you. These were warm, crispy with soft potato in the middle, cooked just right. Ketchup was my dipping sauce of choice (pictured left).
The burger really wowed me (pictured below). It was a step above all of the burger chains, for sure. The bun itself was huge, soft and buttery, and I loved the different flavors of the spicy mustard, tangy ketchup and creamy, light mayo with the crunchy lettuce and juicy red tomato slices and the crunchy onions and delicious sour pickles.
The chocolate milkshake really wowed me as well, not only for the extreme thickness it had and for the fact SONIC uses real ice cream (as opposed to fake at other chains I guess?), but the cup itself was really cool. It was silver, one of my favorite colors. The cup reminded me of the hand-spun milkshake cups you get at diners (which I have a feeling this is why SONIC made them this way). The whipped cream was incredibly thick and creamy as well, and tasted fresh made. And one of the best parts of having the milkshake? Eating fries right after it. That balanced nirvana of the salty and sweet. Delicious!
SONIC Drive-In definitely is along the same lines of similar chain, Johnny Rockets, except Johnny’s doesn’t have the car hop experience. But if it did, I’m sure people would be lining up too.
After today’s food venture, I’m still comfortably full right now and my $9 were well spent. It was also well worth the 40 minute drive across the island.
Long Islanders, where are your favorite French fries on the island? Please let me know? Also, do you have a favorite dipping sauce?
Here are two tweet replies for two of my friends via Twitter: