To the SoCal healthy conscious, fast food isn’t often highly regarded. That said, there are exceptions to the rule. Sometimes a burger and fries, a grande burrito or orange chicken is called for after coming home from a late night out, lunch in the car or breakfast on the way to school. Check out these fast food restaurants, many of which started right here in Los Angeles and Orange County. These truly are the best fast food picks.
In N Out
3501 E. Chapman
Orange, CA 92869
In N Out was California’s first drive-thru and today remains one of the most loved fast food restaurants in the United States. Opened in 1945 in Baldwin Park, in the San Gabriel Valley, it has become a huge hit with its small but incredibly tasty menu. In the 1960s, the fast food chain introduced its “animal style” offering. Added to a burger, it meant that whether you ordered a burger or fries, it would be doused with their extra secret sauce spread and grilled onions. 50 years later, it is one of the most popular add-on items on the menu. Although the “Double-Double” is an instant classic, patrons also come in and order their grilled cheese sandwich, as well as other offerings. Preparing meals for the less fortunate population at Los Angeles Mission, Ventura Rescue Mission and Long Beach Mission, In-N-Out is also a feel good fast food restaurant helping out the community.
Wahoo’s Fish Tacos
120 Main St.
Huntington Beach, CA 92648
A Costa Mesa original, Wahoo’s Fish Tacos has had a loyal following since 1988. Fusing together Brazilian, Asian and Mexican culture and fare, Wahoo’s serves light, fresh and delicious lunch or dinner. The entrée bowls are flavorful and tasty, created with proteins including Angus steak, grilled or Cajun fish, shrimp, salmon, carnitas, tofu, chicken (spicy too) and Kalua pig, a choice of sauces (homemade aioli or teriyaki), rice and beans, and topped with citrus slaw or guacamole. Also rounding out the menu are salads, tacos and enchiladas, burritos, Maui onion rings and Cajun fries.
13266 Jamboree Road
Irvine, CA 92602
Opened by the Cherng family in 1983 in Glendale, California, Panda Express is known for its convenient locations and fast Chinese food. Chef Andy Kao created the restaurant’s signature orange chicken dish which took off in popularity, and today remains one of the most ordered dishes at this fast food restaurant. In 2014, Panda Express served 67.9 million pounds of this flavorful dish, which is crispy chicken smothered in a bold sweet/spicy orange sauce inspired by the Hunan Province. Within the last several years though, Panda Express introduced “Wok Smart Options,” offering menu options that are not only tasty, but also healthy (each item is 300 calories or less with at least eight grams of protein). Panda Express is always a big hit with families. For example, Panda Kids Meal serves kid-friendly entrée portions, a side, a beverage and a cookie, too.
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Original Tommy’s Hamburger
9024 Recreation Circle
Fountain Valley, CA 92708
In 1946, the Original Tommy’s, owned by Tommy Koulax, introduced a burger and hot dog stand in the hubbub of Los Angeles. Topped with his homemade special all-beef chili recipe, the burgers and hot dogs are the best around. Today, that recipe still stands strong. Tommy foodies line up for all things chili. The menu features items including chili to go, a double chili cheeseburger, caliente burger, chili hot dog, chili cheese fries, and chili tamale, just to name a few. Tommy’s breakfast, which was introduced in the 80’s, is an easy and speedy way to start the day with offerings, including a breakfast burrito, sausage & egg sandwich, hash browns, OJ and coffee.
Chipotle Mexican Grill
6855 Katella Ave.
Cypress, CA 90630
Design-your-own burritos and burrito bowls entice customers to this fast food Mexican restaurant throughout the entire day. And, although the service is fast, the food certainly does not have a fast food service taste. Chipotle’s choice of ingredients are sustainably grown and raised responsibly to create a menu featuring delicious burritos and burrito bowls, crispy tacos, salads and more from an easy to choose menu. It’s an easy order for vegetarians, too, with options including sofritas (aka tofu), black or pinto beans, fajita-style vegetables, salsas and hand-mashed savory guacamole. Chipotle’s chips are a must-get as well. Fried fresh daily and sprinkled with lime and salt, they are some of the most coveted around town.