Best order: Veggie burger (add cheese), fries, and a fountain soda
Occasionally you need to fill the classic burger-and-fries meal void as a veg eater. So I love the fact that Burger King offers a veggie burger, and a Morningstar one at that. The patty comes on a toasted bun with the lettuce, tomato, and pickles fixin's, but add cheese, if you eat it, for an extra dose of flavor. I won't sit here and pretend these fries have a leg up on McDonald's, but they do have a notable lack of beef flavoring and a thick yet crispy texture that holds up well. This is the type of meal that begs for a fountain soda, so do the right thing and oblige.
Best order (Carl's): Veg It Guacamole Thickburger with fried zucchini and a side of CrissCut fries
Best order (Hardee’s): Veg It Thickburger and a side of crispy curls
Carl's offers a burger sans patty featuring the usual burger accouterments, guac, and pepper jack cheese, and gives you the option to also purchase a pack of fried zucchini to stuff in there in place of the meat, which you obviously should. In fact, if guac isn't your idea of a good time (you must be a blast at parties), you can actually ask for any burger without the hunk of meat and then pop that zucchini in DIY-style. Unfortunately, Hardee's doesn't have the zucchini option, instead favoring a patty-less Thickburger bursting with veggies and melty American. The fry options slightly vary as well: go for the waffle-esque CrissCuts at Carl's and the curly fries at Hardee's.
Best order: Waffle fries with Chick-fil-A sauce, Superfood Side, and lemonade
When a place has chicken in its name, you know your vegetarian self is in for a bit of a tough time. However, should you be dragged here by selfish friends fiending for chicken sandwiches, your best bet is the go-to side of fries, though they’re not just any fries. These are waffle fries, and they are crispy and wonderful, especially when dipped in the chain’s eponymous smoky sauce. But fries do not a whole meal make, so also get some greens with the Superfood Side, which involves broccolini, kale, dried cherries, nuts, and the elimination of any and all guilt. Wash everything down with a cold lemonade, and then make your friends pay for your meal for being rude.
Best order: Honey butter biscuit, jalapeño cheese bombers, and fried okra
You will worship at the Church after biting into one of its made-from-scratch biscuits drizzled with luscious honey butter, even if you can’t eat 90% of the menu. Points must be awarded for serving fried okra, a divisive vegetable that’s made almost impossible to dislike when fried up by the good folks of Church’s. Though jalapeño poppers are a more common offering, Church’s goes the alternative route here too, with bombers that achieve a somehow thick-yet-light breading and involve legitimately spicy jalapeño bits balanced out by liquid-gold cheese.
Best order: Cheese curds, coleslaw, and a concrete mixer of choice
Culver’s was born in Wisconsin, the good ol' home of the curd. Which means the ones served here are pretty damn famous and remain a huge draw even for hardcore carnivores ordering the similarly renowned ButterBurgers. In fact, they paved the way for most fast-food curds to come. Made with both yellow and white Cheddar and deep fried to crispy, golden perfection, these lil' guys are addictive and almost too poppable. Don’t stop there, though. The coleslaw is cool, crunchy, and dotted with visible bits of black pepper, which will set you up well for the decadent concrete mixer to follow. These are another sought-after Culver’s creation, as they feature fresh, house-made frozen custard and can be filled with everything from salted caramel to cookie dough bites.