Time-Saving and TastyFast food is a necessary time saver for many Americans, and now even those with a taste for finer foods have options for meals on the go.
So if McDonalds is a turn-off to you, here are some casual restaurant chains offering fresher, even organic beef, local vegetables and treats made from scratch that may be near you.
Photo Credit: avlxyz
Fresh Beef BurgersWhat you get: Elevation Burger, for example, offers “100% USDA Certified Organic, 100% grass-fed, 100% free range beef [that’s] 100% ground on premises,” the company says. Burger lovers can also try WindMill Hot Dogs, which boasts ‘“butcher fresh” burgers.
Locations: Elevation Burger has locations in Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Washington DC, Florida and New York locations to come in 2010. All eight WindMill locations are in New Jersey.
Pricing: At its Arlington, Va. location, for example, a basic burger goes for $3.59. The most expensive one, a 10-patty Vertigo Burger, costs about $20.
Photo Credit: rick
Simple Goes Gourmet
What you get: Dogmatic Gourmet Sausage System aims to serves “the finest of street food in a restaurant environment,” its Web site says. But it’s not just street meat. They serve handmade sausages free of hormones, antibiotics, nitrates, artificial flavors and colors. Plus they’re naturally low fat and grilled to order. Besides the usual pork and beef hot dogs, you can get one made of lamb, chicken or turkey as well, plus sauces like truffle gruyere, mint yogurt and chimichurri.
Locations: Union Square, New York City.
Pricing: Any dog costs $4.50, including asparagus in a hot dog bun, which we can only guess is a jab at vegetarians.
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Fast Food From Scratch
What you get: OrderUp is a “pizzeria, taqueria and burgeria” chain with more natural and healthier options than your average fast food chain. Plus, chips and fries are hand-cut and soup and cinnamon rolls are made from scratch.
Locations: San Antonio, Tex.
Pricing: $6 for three chicken, fish or steak tacos served on corn tortillas with onions, cilantro and lime. Handmade burgers are $5.
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Delicious and EfficientWhat you get: Chicken Dijon Rotisserie & Grill calls itself a “quick casual restaurant” chain, but it doesn’t sacrifice taste and quality when it comes to providing a healthy and affordable meal, the company says. Mediterranean-style rotisserie meals, sandwiches, salads and soups are their specialty.
Locations: Eight locations in California.
Pricing: Each location has a slightly different menu, but half a chicken and two sides at the Irvine, Calif. location costs just $8.50.
Photo Credit: Special*Dark
Big WingsWhat you get: Canadian chicken wing joint, Wings Up! specializes in giant, juicy wings that come from a particular breed of chicken from the Canadian Northern Islands. According to the company’s own story, the idea for the restaurant came up when they company’s founder encountered a gigantic chicken during a “spiritual” journey during which he discovered that bigger is better. For wing-lovers who prefer their food especially slathered in sauce, you can order your wings “slightly sloppy.”
Pricing: These giant wings are sold by weight, starting at $6 for half a pound. Flavors include Sweat’n Bullets, Thai, coconut curry and others. Slightly sloppy or “Cajunized” costs 39 cents more.
Photo Credit: rick
French Fast Food?What you get: If you’ve blown money on tickets for a trip to France, you don’t have to make up for it by skimping on food while you’re there. Good, fresh and local food can be affordable for the connoisseur on a budget at Ouest Express. And it’s truly gourmet. The chef at Ouest Express is Paul Bocuse, who, according to Travel & Leisure magazine, “basically invented nouvelle cuisine, is arguably one of the 20th century’s greatest chefs.”
Locations: Two locations in Lyon.
Pricing: Most menu items cost less than €10, or just under $15 in U.S. dollars based on our significantly less-than-favorable exchange rate. Salmon ravioli, for example, will run you about €6.40, or a little over $9. Photo Credit: stu_spivak
Our Fast Food ExportedWhat you get: Just as good cured meats (like prosciutto) can be an expensive, gourmet treat in the U.S. and an everyday food in Europe, American fast food restaurant like KFC (Stock Quote: YUM) and McDonald’s are considered gourmet in other countries. In Australia, for instance, there’s a new “M Selections” menu that boasts being “a little bit fancy,” which offers specialty options including crispy or seared Chicken Deluxe and Chicken Bacon Deluxe sandwiches, a Chicken Tandoori Wrap and a Crispy Caesar Wrap.
Pricing: Prices vary depending on what country you’re in. Outside of the U.S., patrons have complained that KFC is too expensive. At McDonalds in China, a Filet-o-Fish sandwich costs about 14 yuan. While that equates to just over $2 in the U.S., locals in China can get a full meal for half that.
Photo Credit: sashafatcat
Fake Angus?What you get: Angus burgers have become popular additions to menus and fast food chains like McDonald’s and Burger King (Stock Quote: BKC). But are they really gourmet? In order to be Certified Angus, beef actually has to be certified on paper to come from Angus cows and would be specifically labeled as “Certified Angus Beef,” which is actually a brand name. The gigantic and juicy Angus burgers at McDonald’s for example, are not listed as certified.
Pricing: These so-called Angus burgers can cost you about $4. That’s dollars more than a regular McDonald’s burger.
Photo Credit: julieabrown1
Snappy Gourmet Meals at HomeIf you’d rather make your own gourmet meals at home but you’re pressed for time, there are a number of quick and easy recipes to help you make dinner simple but delicious.
Veal scaloppini with olives and sundried tomato sauce is an example of the many dishes that you can make at home in 10 minutes, according to Gourmet.com.
Photo Credit: avlxyz
Do you have any delicious gourmet fast food in your neighborhood that we didn’t mention here? Let us know in the comments below.