Thursday, October 11, 2007

Top 5 Favorite Fast Foods

Now that I've revealed what grosses me out in the world of drive-thrus, fry-o-lators, and heat lamps, I'm sure you're clamoring to know if there is anything out there I actually like.

The plain truth is, I don't really eat fast food. It's not about superiority, sophistication or some foodie creed of purity that I live by. The stuff just doesn't float my boat.

I like what I like--that's a really ambiguous way of saying I'm picky. To really enjoy food, I need to know it's of a good quality, cooked with some care and--in most cases--with healthy eating in mind. I love restaurants, but mostly to experience food and techniques I can't pull off at home, along with a level of skill and presentation I may not be capable of. That means I just don't get around to eating much fast food--even the things I really do like.

Enjoying fast food also has a lot to do with context--Starbucks breakfast pastries (scones!) are a wonderful thing to find in an airport terminal or down the street from our hotel when we're traveling, but they're not something I go for in everyday life. When we were traveling around the California coast this summer, eating at incredible taquerias around Santa Barbara and San Diego, it was so much fun because it was part of the travel experience and the food was a regional specialty that really does taste better there. The fast food item that takes the #1 spot on my list--which by the way is totally processed and contains ingredients I'm sure I can't pronounce-- is a long time favorite, but the few occasions that I eat it usually involve a summer road trip or day at the beach.

For all the great cooks out there, when do you like to eat fast food? And what's on your list?

Top 5 Favorite Fast Foods

5) Finagle A Bagel's honey wheat bagel: This regional bagel chain is the best in Boston, a city I lived in for seven years. Everything there is good, including yummy soups. This bagel is my favorite, and it's a complete meal spread with peanut butter (I love bagel shops that have peanut butter!). It got me through a few Sunday afternoons at the library during college. If you want to indulge in delicious carbs, this is a great way to go.

4) Baja Fresh chicken burritos: Another regional chain that would be a welcome sight on any road trip, or just for a great lunch. The tortillas are soft, they make your food to order with easy to identify fresh ingredients, and they have a good salsa bar.

3) Au Bon Pain: I can't pick just one thing from this awesome regional chain (locations all over the midwest, Eastern U.S. and worldwide). I drank the coffee every morning for a couple of years, and they make great customized sandwiches, plus salads and soups. So good, so fresh, and if you see one in an airport, do not hesitate!

2) Papa John's original pepperoni pizza: I've written about this perfect carry out pizza before--tasty sauce, the perfect amount of cheese, and awesome crust--it's not one of my gourmet creations, but I love it!

1) Wendy's Frosty: Ever since I was very little, I loved soft serve ice cream (still do!). This is a cross between a soft serve and a milk shake. I'm not sure if it actually contains real dairy, but I don't care. I love to order the kids menu size and eat it with a spoon. And if I had to eat at one of the national fast food burger chains, it would be Wendy's--no contest. The salads are really good, and if you want a burger and fries, they do a decent job. But for me, it's all about the Frosty.

Honorable Mention: Dunkin' Donuts cake donuts (especially with chocolate icing and sprinkles).

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