As much as we all love to relax over a leisurely meal, let’s face it, we usually don’t have the time. How often have you been running errands or have only a few minutes between appointments and find yourself so hungry you could eat the steering wheel? When that happens, fight the urge to pull up to the drive-through of a fast food franchise, and check out one of these options.
Jack's Old Fashion Hamburger House
4201 N. Federal, Fort Lauderdale
591 S. Cypress, Pompano
Jack’s not only looks like a throw-back to a ‘60s burger joint, the menu still reflects that simple menu. While not quite the same price as you’d pay back then, the burgers are pretty reasonably priced, especially when you compare them to the slew of new “gourmet” burger joints (I’m talking to you BurgerFi and Shake Shack). Cooked fresh to order, the burgers range in size from quarter to half pound and are ground fresh daily from whole briskets of USDA beef. They taste like a real hamburger that your dad used to cook on the grill.
2244 Wilton Dr., Wilton Manors
You can’t beat Humpy’s meat. Humpy’s features standard (sausage, meatball, pepperoni) and unusual (Buffalo and BBQ chicken, roasted wild mushrooms) pizza toppings, available by the slice, and those slices are huge. Check out the lunch special; you get a slice, salad and soda for $5 (slightly more for special ingredients). There is also an occasional special; buy two slices get a soda for free.
118 N. Federal, Dania Beach
Canadians, and those fond of Canadian cuisine (!) head to Dairy Belle for that classic poutine, a pile of French fries tossed with salty, mozzarella-like white cheese curds smothered in hot gravy. The gravy melts the cheese and you’re left with a delicious mess. Dairy Belle also offers a variation, poutine Italienne, substituting red sauce for the gravy. Or, try the galvaude, which adds shredded chicken and peas to the classic poutine. Order a large with the works and you’ll still walk away with change from your $10.
1635 North Federal, Fort Lauderdale
Yes, it is a chain, but a small one, and all of the food is made to order. That means you may have to wait for a few minutes for your food, but I’m certain you won’t mind; the guys behind the counter are gorgeous. The dining room is also usually filled with so many hot guys that you’d think it was the break room for a porn shoot. I’m partial to the burrito with marinated charbroiled chicken, a choice of black or pinto beans, jack and cheddar cheese, guacamole, pico de gallo, and sour cream. Best of all, it’s only $7.95 and it comes with a handful of freshly made tortilla chips. Other filling options include the roasted pork or machaca burrito with slowly braised shredded beef, pinto beans, jack and cheddar cheese, avocado, lettuce and pico de gallo. If you’re looking for something lighter, order what all those hotties are having; the Cali-wrap, which features chicken, avocado, tomato, onion, cilantro and lettuce, tossed in lemony dressing or the grilled shrimp and mango salad. Nothing here costs more than $10.
4900 S. University, Davie
If you’re looking for a taste of the Midwest, head over to Knucklehead and order the Mahoney's Baloney. The sandwich features two thick slices of grilled Boar's Head bologna, a fried egg and American cheese between two slices of Texas toast. It ain’t healthy, but it sure is good. And, it’s only $6.
Smitty's Old Fashioned Butcher Shop
1980 NE 45th Street, Oakland Park
The old-school butcher shop doesn’t make a big deal about it, they don’t even mention it on their web site, but they’ll put together a hearty sandwich for you. Opt for the Italian, laden with salami, sopressata, and ham, and then dressed with hot and sweet peppers, a ripe tomato, provolone, onions, mustard, oil, and vinegar in a crusty roll.
OK, so it’s a chain with hundreds of locations, but I have to admit I love the food at Pollo Tropical and so does my husband who is a picky eater and a vegetarian! I usually opt for the chicken and rib combo. It’s a carnivore’s dream; featuring one-quarter of a chicken and a half-rack of Caribbean Ribs. The tropical barbecue sauce and herbs must be laced with crack, 'cause I’m addicted. I also appreciate the variety of sauces available. In addition to the Caribbean sauce, the condiment bar offers up guava BBQ, pineapple rum sauce and a cilantro cream. The chicken wings are equally good and the Tropi-Chop bowls allow you to customize your meal by picking a protein (chicken, mojo roast pork or calypso beef), a base (yellow, white or brown rice with veggies or lettuce) and toppings (beans, chopped fresh tomatoes, corn, sautéed onions and sautéed peppers). Even the sides are not your typical fast food fare; tomatoes and red onions in a balsamic vinaigrette, steamed green beans in a garlic-cilantro butter, macaroni and cheese and, often, Caribbean corn soufflé. There’s a vegetarian Tropi-Chop and often seasonal options, such as shrimp.
The next time your stomach starts growling in traffic consider one of these options where you can “have it your way” because “you deserve a break today,” so “head for the border.”