We did it again, Cleveland! Men’s Fitness named our city “The Junk Food Capital of the Nation” for the second year in a row. I know I’ve done my part in bringing home the Burger King crown, having dined in the shadow of Ronald, Wendy and his highness at least a couple times a month during the past year. And though there are, at times, few things better than a Whopper, a 3 a.m. trip to White Castle and the holy of holies, McDonald’s french fries, it’s time to harness our city’s affection for guilty food pleasures. If you love our drive-through options, you’re a prime candidate for the sit-down-dining versions available at some of our favorite independent, local restaurants.
You Love: Burger King’s Whopper
So Try: Brasa Grill, where the flame broiling doesn’t stop at beef. The $35 prix-fixe dinner offers a dozen or more varieties of meat. We recently sampled everything from bacon- wrapped filet and Brazilian pork sausage to flank steak, beef short ribs and filet mignon. 1300 W. Ninth St., Cleveland, (216) 575-0699
Bottom Line: Yes, Virginia, there’s something meatier than the Triple Whopper. Its name is Brasa.
You Love: White Castle’s Sliders
So Try: Boulevard Blue’s bar menu slider trio. Where White Castle is as all-American as it gets (first burger chain and all), Blue takes you from the U.S. to Asia and Latin America in one fell swoop. You won’t find pickle or onions on the American burger here, but you will get bacon and cheddar. The Asian slider is topped with ginger coleslaw; the Latin slider features avocado, cilantro and sour cream. 12718 Larchmere Blvd., Cleveland, (216) 721-5500
Bottom Line: American burgers are great, but we love the light (but still burger-yummy) flavor of the Latin popper.
Taco Bell: The home of 10 ingredients packaged 10,000 different ways.So Try:
Momocho’s menu items are high-end and more than fill your border urges. Taco Bell recently introduced the steak grilled taquito, and Momocho has its own miniwraps in 12 varieties. Each comes with the same delicious salsa verde and one of a few variations on chipotle, jalepeno or habanero salsa. Try the juicy machaca taquitos: coffee and ancho-braised beef brisket with guac as the side. 1835 Fulton Road, Cleveland, (216) 694-2122Bottom Line:
We’ll take Momocho’s fresh creations over Taco Bell’s prefab food any day.
You Love: McDonald's French Fries
So Try: Move beyond basic Idaho with the 21st century sweet potato craze. Many restaurants do them well, but no one gets us closer to McDonald's nirvana than The Diner on Clifton. The first thing you notice is how light they are- the fluffiness defies the dark orange outer shell and invites you to have just one more. And one more. And one more. Sound familiar? 11637 Clifton Blvd., Cleveland, (216) 694-2122
Bottom Line: We're not saying these fries will make you forget Mickey D's, but they'll remind you why you love them in the first place.