I'm a food reporter who went to Sonic Drive-In for the first time and I finally understand the appeal

I'm a food reporter who went to Sonic Drive-In for the first time and I finally understand the appeal
  • On a recent visit to North Carolina, I ate at Sonic Drive-In for the first time.

  • I tried the chain's double cheeseburger and fries, and really enjoyed them both.

  • I also liked the drive-in model, though I wouldn't choose it in a rush.

I recently visited Sonic Drive-In for the first time during a trip to North Carolina.

sonic drive-in
Sonic Drive-In.Erin McDowell/Insider

Sonic was founded in 1953 in Shawnee, Oklahoma, and has locations all over the country. However, while there are a few Sonic Drive-In restaurants in New York, I've surprisingly never been. I decided to try out the chain to see if I could understand the appeal and experience what the "drive-in" model was all about.

I pulled up to Sonic and found a parking spot right away.

sonic drive-in
Sonic Drive-In.Erin McDowell/Insider

The restaurant I visited also had a dining room and a drive-thru, but I decided to do the drive-in to get the full experience. I simply pulled into one of the designated spots, turned my car off, and began to look over the menu.

The menu was expansive, offering burgers, hot dogs, and chicken sandwiches.

sonic drive-in menu
Sonic Drive-In menu.Erin McDowell/Insider

I decided to keep my order pretty classic. I ordered a SuperSonic Double Cheeseburger, fries, and a medium drink. The double-patty burger came topped with American cheese, lettuce, crinkle-cut dill pickles, diced onions, tomatoes, mayonnaise, and ketchup.

I ordered by pressing the red button located underneath the menu.

sonic drive-in ordering button
Sonic Drive-In ordering button.Erin McDowell/Insider

I accidentally parked a little too far away from the menu, so I had to open my door and lean out to press the button and order. However, once I pushed the button, it was really easy to order.

That being said, I think I still prefer a classic drive-thru ordering system. Having to park, lean out to press the button, and then wait for my order to be delivered to me ended up feeling like it took longer than most other times I've gone through a fast-food drive-thru line.

My order came to $9.52, which I thought was reasonable.

sonic drive-in menu screen
Sonic Drive-In menu.Erin McDowell/Insider

I've definitely paid more for a double cheeseburger combo at other chains.

After about seven minutes, an employee came and delivered the order to my car.

sonic drive-in bag
Sonic Drive-In bag of food.Erin McDowell/Insider

The one thing I did like about the drive-in model was that I could eat it right there and then. I didn't have to go and find a spot to park and eat or try to eat while I was driving. I really liked the convenience of this, though it felt a bit out of my comfort zone. I was worried about sitting there too long, especially during the lunch rush.

Unlike Sonic's quarter-pound double cheeseburger, which comes with two junior patties, the full-size burger has a combined half-pound of meat.

sonic drive-in burger
SuperSonic Double Cheeseburger.Erin McDowell/Insider

The bun was perfectly soft but still held the sauce-covered burger together.

I thought all the ingredients tasted really fresh and vibrant.

sonic drive-in burger
SuperSonic Double Cheeseburger.Erin McDowell/Insider

The tomato wasn't too watery, the lettuce was crisp, and the burgers tasted well-seasoned and were super juicy. I thought the pickles and condiments added a lot to the flavor profile, and the burger was overall a very generous size.

I thought the fries from Sonic were top-notch.

sonic drive-in fries
Sonic Drive-In fries.Erin McDowell/Insider

They were perfectly crispy and well-fried, with a satisfying layer of salt sprinkled over the top.

I also got a medium-sized drink with my order.

sonic drive-in drink
Sonic Drive-In drink.Erin McDowell/Insider

Though I just opted for a soda, next time I'm back I'll definitely try one of the chain's slushies or a shake.

Overall, I really enjoyed my experience at Sonic Drive-In. Although I wouldn't choose the drive-in service in a rush, I thought the food was delicious and well-priced. I also liked the option of being able to sit and eat my food right after receiving it. I will definitely be a regular visitor to Sonic in the future.

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