Face it, Driving in Los Angeles sucks. You’re going to be stuck in your car one day and get the munchies, or you’re going to be running late, not feel like cooking, and have to stop off somewhere and get something. Well, you should get something, just don’t settle for anything.
Lord knows I have indulged in the Colonel’s greasy graces now and again (with shame, mind you), but you should know there are a number of local Southern California Fast Food options that should probably get your dollar first before any of the national chains.
I can’t claim that the Southern California invented the Drive-Thru, but it sure as hell made it a vital part of the L.A. economy. So if you’re hungry, and you’re stuck in your car, here’s what you should look at as far as Fast Food goes.
Bear in mind, if you’re an Angeleno, you don’t need this guide. You live here. You’ve eaten at all (or most) of these chains.
This is really for you visitors or newcomers to Southern California. When I first got here, there were SO MANY of chains I wasn’t familiar with, it was overwhelming. This guide has been written to help you through your first couple of transactions:
Baklava Factory: An Armenian Coffee, Pastry joint, that of course…sells Baklava, good Baklava. Step right in for timely, helpful service. Their online ordering on the other hand? Ehhh, pass.
Carl’s Jr.: A local Southern California Burger chain. If you’re from the East Coast, the equivalent of this place is Hardee’s. I’m not sure, but I think the same company owns both franchises. Any rumors you hear about Carl’s Jr. being aligned with Conservative Causes and issues are pretty much bull@#$%. (Lord knows I heard ‘em over and over again). Their CEO, on the other hand, is another matter.
Del Taco: The Southern California version of Taco Bell. As little regard as I have for Taco Bell (not terrible, but not real Mexican Food either. Eat only in the case of an emergency), Taco Bell is far superior to Del Taco. Sorry fellas, that’s just how it is.
El Pollo Loco: A mostly Southern Californian chain serving mostly Mexican-style grilled Chicken, though I doubt you’ll be able to tell the difference between it and ordinary chicken.
Fatburger: Local Burger Chain. Not quite as internationally famous as In-N-Out, but still good. Seem to remember the relish that comes with their burgers. Not as many Drive-Thru’s as In-N-Out, and thus not as hard to get in and out of.
The Hat: Local Pastrami joint that I haven’t partaken of yet.
In-N-Out: In the words of Anthony Bourdain, the only American chain worth a damn. This is a great, great Burger joint. Now, Anthony orders his “Animal Style”. I’ve talked to one or two people who have not enjoyed it “Animal Style”. Still, In-N-Out is someplace that’s a mandatory stop for most visitors to Los Angeles.
Panda Inn: Not technically a fast-food joint, but is the parent restaurant to the more familiar Panda Express. Founded in Pasadena, and expanded (as Panda Express) nationwide. As far as Chinese Restaurants go…go to Monterey Park or San Gabriel.
Winchell’s/Yum Yum Donuts: A local Donut chain that started in Southern California that has spread out considerably. It is about a basic a Donut and Coffee place as you can get now a days. If you’re Canadian, this is the closest thing you’re going to get to Tim Horton’s.
Yoshinoya: Japanese Fast Food, basically Rice Bowls with Teriyaki Chicken or Chipped Beef and a side of stewed Veggies. Vegetarian Bowls are all stewed Veggies. Though I personally like them (and they’re just about everywhere) people I talk to individually just don’t like them for whatever reason. Still you can get in and out of there for about eight bucks with a bowl big enough for two.
As I think of more, more shall be added…