Lake Mary, FL
BurgerFi is a relatively new chain of premium burger restaurants in the southern and northeastern U.S. The chain launched in Delray Beach, FL and is rapidly spreading across the country with stores marked as “coming soon” as far west as Arizona and California. We’ll be adding BurgerFi to the official roster of restaurants we track on Fast Food Source in the coming weeks, but first let’s talk about the food.
BurgerFi’s claim to fame is all natural burgers. The name comes from their slogan “Burgerfication of the Nation®” but, deep down, I suspect they went to GoDaddy and searched for a domain name starting with the word “burger” that was available. BurgerFi is a strange name for a restaurant.
The burger, however, is very good. Constructed from the top-down with condiments riding above the meat and cheese, you truly taste the salty, cheesy double patties of the default Burgerfi Cheeseburger in your first bite. Lettuce, tomato and BurgerFi sauce (a standard 1000 Island spread) mate well. The meat-on-the-bottom construction with no spread on the heel bumps the meat:condiment ratio to about 1.25:1 in my estimation. Great if you have a craving for meat first in a burger but don’t want an overwhelming gi-hug-o monster burger. This one is just right. And that unique branding of the crown adds a really classy literal signature to their sandwich. Nice.
The BurgerFi side items are generously-sliced fries and mega-sized onion rings. The fries were crispy on the outside and warm and soft on the inside and reminded me of Five Guys. The onion rings are big but thin, meaning a lot of batter to every bite. BurgerFi offers a not-so-secret menu (it’s in their printed menu so how secret can it be?) that includes variations on the burger and fries akin to the In-N-Out secret menu.
Overall, I found my visit to BurgerFi (I went to the Lake Mary FL store) pleasant and enjoyable. I think there’s room for more gourmet premium burger chains and BurgerFi is a welcome addition. It will be interesting to watch them grow and see how far they can get in size and scope in the coming years.
Lake Mary, FL
Which Wich is a nationwide build-to-order sandwich chain with a customer experience one can only describe as “participatory.” Patrons enter the restaurant and first look at the overhead menu to determine which one of ten base sandwiches they want. More on this in a minute. Next, they pull the bag with the corresponding number out of the rack and mark on the bag the bread, toppings, and other attributes they want.
The ten bag categories (base sandwich types) are:
When you have finished, you write your name on the bottom of the bag and then go to the register to order. The whole process is crazy for a first-timer, although I do see some advantages to the frequent diners who lose patience trying to explain special orders.
The sandwich I ordered was the Turkey, Ham and Bacon Club. That’s bag number 1, check the “Club” bubble. It was accompanied by a standard bag of Doritos and a Coke product.
I found the sandwich to be tasty and satisfying. Served in a long roll, the ingredients were all tucked snugly inside the soft bread and was exactly what you’d expect. Sliced deli meats, mayo, etc. all in the proper proportions.
The restaurant I visited in Lake Mary, FL was uncrowded, even though it was lunch hour. The manager was proactive in helping newbies like me navigate the ordering process and the staff, overall, was friendly.
It’s interesting to see how sandwich shops like this are springing up to counter the Subway juggernaut. It helps that a sandwich franchise is probably one of the least expensive choices for a would-be restauranteur. The low start-up costs in equipment and the strip-mall rent make this formula, perfected by the big “S”, a winning one. The first location opened in Dallas in 2003, and they began franchising in 2005. In fact, “Franchise” is the first link you encounter on the Which Wich website. With that in mind, watch for Which Wich’s to appear near you and give them a try.
The Habit is a small burger chain with about 100 locations, mostly in California but also spilling over into Arizona and Utah. Founded in Santa Barbara, CA in 1969, The Habit offers a decent selection of burgers, sandwiches and salads. The burgers range from the core “original” Charburger to fancy deluxe versions with mushrooms or Teriyaki sauce.
My friend Tom and I tried it out recently. We both opted for the original cheeseburger, his with the default Swiss cheese and mine with American.
The burger tasted fresh and hearty and arrived loaded with condiments including optional grilled onions. As you can see from the pics, they don’t skimp when building these sandwiches. And these are just the singles.
Give it a try next time you find yourself near one. It’s a nice alternative to the mainstream burger choices.
Ono Hawaiian BBQ is a small west-coast chain offering chicken and beef dishes with a distinctly Hawaiian flair. BBQ, Teriyaki, Island Curry, and Chicken Katsu are just some of the specialties. They also offer beef, pork and seafood menu items, along with a couple including that Hawaii staple, Spam. For sides, Ono offers rice and macaroni salad and serves their food accented with cabbage.
The chicken is moist and tasty – like what you might grill yourself at home. In fact, I can’t recall a more moist chicken at a fast food or quick serve restaurant. The food is just different enough to feel like a treat but convenient enough to enjoy as an alternative to other more traditional fast food fare.
The Japanese/Polynesian influenced menu might be more at home in our International restaurant category. But Hawaii being a state, we think it fits best in the Chicken category where the majority of their menu is centered.
Next time you are in Northern or Southern California or the Phoenix area, check them out!