Southern Fast Food Guide for Non-Southerners
If you're a Nashvillian, nothing can quite top the West End AVE Wendy’s at midnight as a Vandy student, but if you’re a visitor to Nashville form outside the South, or a transplant to the area, the next time you’re in for a dive meal, you might consider venturing to these southern fast food joints.
While Chick-Fil-A is now available in most states, the restaurant has southern roots. Founded in Hapeville, GA, the chain offers exclusively chicken-based meals. As a southern transplant, this is my favorite fast food find (when I’m in the mood to tolerate the insanely long lines). Chick-Fil-A noticeably uses higher quality ingredients than most other fast food chains and has pretty decent salads and grilled chicken options if you’re not in the mood for the post-lunch blahs. The waffle fries are totally worth-it though.
Sonic follows the tradition of true drive ins. Without seated restaurant space, diners chow down on fries and shakes in their own cars. Sonic is perhaps best known for their drink specials and offerings. In fact, their website advertises that there are 1.3 million possible drink combos offered, from frozen blue coconut slushies to cherry limeade. Sonic’s got a sugary thirst quencher for every palate. In true southern fashion, you’ll probably feel pretty full by the time you pull our of your parking spot.
3. White Castle and Krystal
Loyalists may not lump White Castle and Krystal into the same category, but to outsiders they are basically the same. These two joints serve up mini hamburgers on buns that look like traditional dinner rolls. Both restaurants sell these mini burgers individually or by the sackful to feed a crowd. While the concept seemed interesting when I arrived in Nashville, I have to say I haven’t been back to a Krystal or White Castle since my first taste.
If a heavy meal is your thing, Hardee’s is your southern fast food stop of choice. The menu literally uses the name Thickburger to describe its standard burger offerings not to mention the prime rib and fried egg breakfast biscuit offered for breakfast. While Hardees has expanded beyond the borders of its southern roots, you’ll feel southern-satisfied when you leave.
5. Waffle House
The first thing to mention about the Waffle House is that it’s open 24 hours-day. So, most southern college students are quite familiar with the eatery (Pro tip: you can also take advantage of these hours with a newborn). The casual all-day breakfast stop has coined its own vocabulary that is widely known among true southerners. Want grilled onions on your hash browns? Order them ‘smothered’. Adding cheese? Order them ‘covered’.
6. Steak N Shake
As I’ve mentioned before, I can be a bit of a health nut, but Steak N Shake is one of the few places where I can’t resist eating an entire greasy cheeseburger. Home of the steak burger, you can tell that Steak N Shake uses higher quality ingredients than competitors. The single cheeseburger is just the right size to leave room to enjoy a shake on the side (also totally worth it!).
If you’re new to the south, let us know what you think about these southern establishments. Are there any you would add to the list?