Fast Food Giant Sonic Drive-In opens in Queens

There are more than 3,500 Sonic Drive-In burger stands across America, but until about a week ago, the only franchise the Oklahoma City-based company had ever opened in New York was located at Tottenville, Staten Island. (And despite ads aired here for many years, even this one only opened in 2015.)

Sonic is one of those things I’ve heard of all my life that I’ve never tried, so when I heard the second location in town was opening in Queens, and it was enough close to public transportation so I could actually get there, I was curious enough to hop on a Citi bike and pedal for a mid-afternoon meal.

Turns out I should have done almost literally anything else with my day. First of all, there are no funky roller-skating carhops at the Long Island City Sonic, or any of those roadside retro-type offerings like the big Roll n Roaster in Sheepshead Bay. Despite the picture on the sitethis one is actually just a generic storefront at the foot of an office building on a freeway-like stretch of Queens Boulevard.

Aesthetics aside, it’s all about the food…and this Sonic’s food was awful. The Tots were probably the best dish I’ve had, although they needed ketchup, a crucial condiment for burgers that somehow wasn’t available here. But everything else I ate was just bad and sad.

The Garlic Butter Bacon Burger (“It’s back!” the sign warned) was mysteriously bitter and sweet. The 99¢ Fritos Chili Cheese Jr. Wrap ate like wet cardboard, hammering home the adage that just because something is cheap doesn’t mean it’s a bargain. And the Jumbo Popcorn Squishy Chicken, which I ordered in sauce with “Buffalo”, tasted like a block of salt.

I entered the menu’s Frozen Zone® about halfway through my meal, hoping that sucking on a Sonic Blast would save the adventure. No. Too solid to drink, and somehow both too bland and too sweet, even the miserly sprinkling of crushed Snickers couldn’t bring joy to this mess. Maybe the Nerd-strewn Grape Slush would have been the better choice?

Not that the long line of customers here seemed to care about any of that. Granted, most were teenagers fresh out of nearby high school, but still, come on kids, there’s a Popeye’s just down the block! At least miss something that’s not expensive and Well.

Sonic is located at 37-02 Queens Boulevard, corner of 37th Street in Long Island City, and is currently open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily (sonicdrivein.com)

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