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Sip an ice cream slush, tackle tater tots at Sonic Drive-In

Hot dogs. Burgers. Ice cream. The trifecta of summer.

Memorial Day always seems to click our questionable eating green light to the “on” position.

To that end, we drove to Sonic Drive-In and immediately wondered, what took us so long? Open since 2015 in Cheektowaga, Sonic is a hoot. From the drive-in stanchion and carhops on roller skates, to classic music, we loved it. (A hot rod Monte Carlo SS 1980-ish pulled in after us, making it even more fun.)

A quick check of the Sonic website notes it started as a drive-in in 1953 in Shawnee, Okla., and “SONIC revolutionized the ordering process by using curbside speakers that allowed customers to place food orders without ever leaving their cars.” Well, then.

Tina and Ron Alessi of Corfu enjoy their lunch on the patio. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Of course, we had to try the drive-in feature. Craning our necks out the window to see the menu, we were grateful we brought the lithe 14-year-old nephew who could actually lean out and push the button when the time came to order.

The menu has much to take in (ignore the calories). Burgers, hot dogs and fantastic fried food like tater tots, fries, popcorn chicken, mozzarella sticks, onion rings, and boneless wings comprise the menu.

In short, Sonic has what you want when you want to eat bad, which is sometimes a good thing.

The bright red cherry slush from Sonic. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

And sugary drinks. Millions of them. Crazy frozen drinks like Blue Coconut Slush and Frozen Grape Limeade. Customized a drink with fruit, flavors or candy-add ons. Add “popping,” rainbow or Jolly Ranchers. Your teeth ache just reading.

We zeroed in on shakes. Classic shakes, “Master Shakes,” “Cookie Jar Shakes,” and ice cream slushes (yes, a slush with ice cream). Our heads were spinning as our stomachs rumbled like the Monte Carlo.

We finally whittled down to a Sonic cheeseburger ($4.19), foot-long Coney hot dog ($3.69), small popcorn chicken ($2.99), onion rings ($2.19), small fries ($1.09), medium orange float ($4.09), small strawberry cheesecake shake and small strawberry banana shake (each $3.59).

Normally totaling $25.42, we got two discounts: the Tuesday family night half-priced cheeseburger (minus $2.09) and “After 8 Shakes” (after 8 p.m.) half-priced shakes, floats and ice cream slushes (minus $5.62). Our bill came to $19.26.

Sonic carhop Matt Grieve takes an order to a customer. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

The slick operation let us pay with a card right there. Cash is the other option. The screen kept track of our order’s progress. We waited, breath bated, as carhops navigated the busy parking lot. After a short wait, ours whizzed in.

We are giving Sonic three Jolly Ranchers (instead of three Michelin stars). Our burger came with the right toppings. Service was friendly and super efficient. Our gal even checked back after we had started eating to make sure everything was OK. We also got plenty of napkins, straws, and even a fork in the footlong dog bag.

The food was good too. The cheeseburger was a nice size, with plenty of American cheese, pickles and ketchup as requested. The Coney footlong, a beef dog, was topped with warm chili and fabulous creamy (dare we say Velveeta-esque) cheese.

I felt a little guilty looking at Ted’s across the parking lot. But hey, the Coney was darn tasty. My bun was even warm.

The 14-year old noted his popcorn chicken, “was the bigger kind, like at Disney.” Onion rings were crunchy and the fries were solid. They’d lost heat on the way to the car, but were still solid.

Shakes and float were outstanding. The strawberry cheesecake had real bits of strawberry and was super creamy. Not too thick or thin either.

Mini shakes ($2.29-plus) are good for those who don’t want a giant shake or a little kid who can't finish a big one. A nice option. Sonic also serves sundaes and Sonic Blasts (with Reese’s and Oreos) and Master Blasts, their version of Blizzards.

Having lunch from left are Christina Clark-Conerly and her daughter Kamaria Conerly, both of Buffalo. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Kids meals ($3.39 to $3.79) offer a junior burger, chicken strips, grilled cheese, etc. Breakfast is served all day. Think breakfast burrito ($2.69) and French toast sticks ($2.49).

Could we eat “bad” all the time? No, but you can bet we’ll be checking out Sonic as much as we can, especially when we need a shake after our healthy dinner at home.

CHEAP EATS

Sonic Drive-In

Address: 3601 Union Road, Cheektowaga

Hours: 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 9 a.m. to midnight Friday-Saturday.

Wheelchair-accessible: Yes.

Gluten-free: Sonic has an allergen chart online.

Specials: Happy Hour 2-5 p.m. half price drinks, slushes and 99-cent corn dogs. Carhop Classics, a quarter pound double cheeseburger or a classic Sonic signature slinger with medium tots, each $2.99 all day.

Half-price shakes, floats and ice cream slushes after 8 p.m. Tuesday family night get half price cheeseburgers from 5 p.m. to close.

*Read more Cheap Eats by clicking the tag at the bottom of the page.

In addition to ordering in or going through the drive-thru, customers can order from stalls, and carhops on in-line-skates will bring their order. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

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