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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Six Places That Serve Up Fast Food Meant for Savoring Slowly

Posted By on Wed, Jul 8, 2009 at 2:19 PM

Last week, we took a look at some of the best gourmet hot dogs to be had in the U.S. But transforming fast food icons into haute-cuisine goodies doesn't end with the wiener. We've rounded up some of our favorite spots that put a gourmet spin on fast food.

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1. Burgerville
Not only does this Oregon- and Washington-based fast food chain serve up old favorites like the Half Pound Colossal Cheeseburger (made from range-fed beef), it also rotates seasonal offerings for the local foodie crowd. This month: the Walla Walla Sweet Onion Horseradish Burger and Summer Side Salad. In 2003, Gourmet proclaimed Burgerville the freshest fast food vendor in the nation.
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2. Frjtz Fries
This San Francisco chain may not be as streamlined as McDonalds, but when it comes to taste, Frjtz serves up French fries with the best of them. The secret is the array of snazzy dipping sauces, including chipotle remoulade, white-truffle artichoke ketchup, and wasabi mayo. You may never be able to go back to plain old Heinz.

3. The WindMill
Based in New Jersey, WindMill offers everything you'd expect from a Burger King rival as well as white-tablecloth goodies like charbroiled rib eye, fried fillet of flounder, and white meat tuna fish. The chain's burgers are ground by local butchers before heading to your plate.

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4. Little Chef
The menu at this U.K. roadside diner chain was recently revamped by star chef Heston Blumenthal to include decidedly un-fast items like coq au vin, Hereford steak, and braised ox cheek. Little Chef also serves traditional fare like hamburgers bacon burgers with fries -- all locally sourced, of course.

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5. Carl's Jr.
Yes, we said Carl's Jr. The chain has garnered attention for its Portobello Mushroom Six Dollar Burger, which features 100 percent Black Angus beef and 'shrooms sauteed in garlic butter. In 2005, the massive burger snagged an award for excellence from Produce Business Magazine (you were expecting Bon Appetit, maybe?).

6. Garlic Jim's Famous Gourmet Pizza
It takes only six minutes for pizza to pass from the oven to your hands, according to one Yelp reviewer. Seattle-based Garlic Jim's serves up fare like the Original Crust Spinach Artichoke Pie with Olives and a Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza. Maybe best of all, Jim's offers a gluten-free menu for Celiacs who can't deny their pizza cravings.
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Ariel Schwartz

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