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White Castle

  • m

I had my first white castle experience yesterday in Chicago. I loved it, loved it loved it. Not sure if it was the gimmicky portion size or the lovely way the bread, meat cheese and onions all melded into one gluey entity. It was fabulous and I easily polished off 10. I am from the West Coast so I cant get them usually. Cant wait for my next trip East!

Question, how does my love for the White castle affect my status as a Chowhounder? What is the general consense about this particular chain? Should I be embarrassed and swear never to return on epicurian moral grounds........

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  1. I'm not going to knock you for loving White Castle, I go there on a regular basis. It is one of my comfort foods. By the way, they sell them frozen in Chicago (and other) area grocery stores, maybe you know someone who would overnight them to you frozen. I do that for a friend in Cleveland with Chicago style hot dogs.

    2 Replies
    1. re: saffy

      I would say definitely check your local grocery stores. I've found them frozen on the West Coast. Having said that, they definitely don't do justice to the real White Castle, but you can play around with heating methods and get them to be close enough to satisfy a craving. They're also handy to keep around when you're just in a big hurry and need a little nosh to tide you over or don't have any burgers and buns in the fridge. I think they survive the freezing and reheating process better than other burgers, and they're ready in an extraordinarily short amount of time.

      1. re: saffy

        I absolutely adore the little burgers. I live in WashDC area, and the closest WC is probably in New Jersey. The frozen burgers are in the stores here, but I have not yet bought any. I should! Whenever I go to Bowling Green KY (my sister lives there), I always get a "crave case" and gobble them all down. And the Dusseldorf mustard is the best!

      2. Welcome the the tribe. You will find a subset of chowwers that will look down their noses at us. Then there are the rest of us who like food for its quality not for the sign under which it's sold.

        White Castle was the first burger chain, waaaay before Kroc took a stand in california. Those of us who grew up devouring these little nuggets of pleasure view all other fast food burger chains as also rans.

        My first was in the early 60's and they cost 8-cents. For a dollar you could get 6 burgers, fries and a coke (none of this diet stuff) for well under a buck.

        The frozen box does not do the gooey-ness its just reward. Only tried, maybe ten years ago and the microwave I think damaged more than cooked. Maybe today;s technology works better.

        Moz, wear your WC badge with honrs. You are now officially a member of the true chowhound contingent. But be prepared for some who will criticize our love for these gooey burgers as one step above the trash.

        As for me give me more.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jfood

          I've been posting about White Castle on Chowhound for years. One of many -
          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

          On the MyChow section I list them among my Top Five restaurants. I'd never set foot in a McDonald's but I'm good for 4 White Castle visits a year.

        2. You can make facsimiles at home under ther heading of "sliders."

          1. Who care what the others think. There are some here who get all worked up about White Castle. If they don't like it, so what. Plenty of others do.

            Word of warning (as mentioned above) -- stay far away from the frozen version at your grocer. They are repulsive.

            1 Reply
            1. re: snw

              When they're all you have - the situation in which I now find myself - they're pretty damn good.

              Once, I managed to get 12 in my mouth at once. Those were the days.........

              :::: sigh ::::

            2. Actually, I think the frozen White Castles(reg. burger no cheese) compare favorably to their, heh, a la minute brethren.

              1. When I married, I vowed a White Castle tradition.

                From dh's great grandparents down, each couple had returned from their honeymoon to "share" a burger at White Castle. Who was I to knock tradition.

                I'm not a regular WC kinda gal...but I respect tradition.

                1. It really doesn't matter what others think. You're the one who eats them and all that is required is your opinion.
                  I like WC's but I love their southern counterpart Krystal's better.
                  I love all food pretty much. I can eat at a high end place and stop off for a dog on the way home. Food should be enjoyed. Not scrutinized to death.

                  DT

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: Davwud

                    LOL DT...if food isn't scruntinized...what in the world is CHOWH?

                    1. re: HillJ

                      Okay
                      Let me put it another way. I think too many people can't wait to not like things.

                      DT

                    2. re: Davwud

                      I prefer Krystal's too but I like both. Neither rests well in my stomach, though.

                      1. re: alliebear

                        Oh my. Illinoisan here, transplanted to SC during high school. My first and only trip to Krystals was the idea of new neighbors, trying to make me feel more at home. I remember being hugely disappointed. Yes, it was a square burger. No, it was nothing else like a White Castle. In my mind White Castles are far superior to Krystal burgers. Now, as a vegetarian, I truly miss White Castles.

                        1. re: debbiel

                          I agree. I ate WC growing up, so was interested in trying Krystal when I attended undergrad in New Orleans. I quickly realized the only time Krystal burgers were tasty was when I was very drunk after a night on Bourbun St. Then again, I had WC recently after not eating them since I was a teen and while good, not as good as I remembered. Unique and tasty, but prob wouldn't do if I was craving a burger.

                          1. re: Newkie

                            I'm from Canada and had no idea of what either Krystals or White Castles were until I married a girl from the south.
                            I had Krystals first and maybe that's why I like them better but on the trip down for Thanksgiving, I had the opportunity to try both within a couple days. Krystals was by far my favourite. Don't know why other than I just preferred the taste.

                            DT

                            1. re: Davwud

                              For me, I think it's just that I grew up with White Castles.
                              I might have even liked Krystal burgers if they hadn't been introduced as a White Castle--the two burgers seem so very different.

                    3. White Castle rules! You can be a complete foodie and dine all over the world, but there's something about White Castle that keeps you craving it! It's very humbling! :o)

                      1. I still sneak into St. Louis to go to a White Castle (always the same one). I try not to be a glutton; so I order just a few of them (what are a few...10?), avoid the fries, sometimes fall for the onion rings, order a diet soda. I always eat in; the lighting is unforgiving, as also are the furtive stares and glances of my fellow travelers. We sit there with a common knowledge and desire and finish our food. And then out the door, thinking about the next time we can slip back into our favorite unspoken restaurant.

                        1. I guess it's okay to like whatever you like. I'm honestly surprised that you, as a fellow 'hound, can use the words "gimmicky...gluey entity" in a positive sense (don't think I could), but hey, more power to you. I honestly can't comment as to the quality of the ingredients that WC uses in their food, but it's a fast food place. I wouldn't expect much.

                          Here's my biggest objection to WC sliders: I know of no one else, public or private, that would "steam grill" any type of meat. Having had WC sliders in the past, and being a fan of *good* sliders (which, obviously, WC wouldn't qualify as in my book), there's something genuinely disturbing to me about "steam grilling," both in taste and in concept. Eww.

                          That being said, I have no real objection to their fried chicken patty sandwiches, except for the fact that they (along with everything else on the menu) seem to be V-E-R-Y overpriced based on cost-to-serving size ratio.

                          As for me, when I want a *real* slider, I'll head on over to Green's in Farmington Hills, MI for my fix. Good stuff, Maynard.

                          10 Replies
                          1. re: boagman

                            Steam Grilling in the WC sense is just placing their meat on top of a bed of onions. It's actaully more like pan frying, except the food is not sitting in the grease, but on top of the onions. (Thus why many people call Slyders greasy). Okay, so yeah, I guess that is steaming, but it's not like they're being placed in a steamer and being steamed like dim sum. Hmmm, so I'm guessing dim sum is not on your list of places to go, as they do tend to steam a lot of meats also.

                            Actually, "steam grilling" is probably a lot healthier than other fast food places where the food is fried and actually sitting in the grease collecting all those juicy trans fats.

                            1. re: foodgangsta

                              I can't think of single fast food restaurant that fries hamburgers. I've never even heard of such a thing.

                              1. re: tamerlanenj

                                "I can't think of single fast food restaurant that fries hamburgers. I've never even heard of such a thing."

                                McDonald's makes their burgers on a griddle - in effect a giant frying pan.

                                1. re: Bob Martinez

                                  Griddling burgers is not frying them. Putting them in a basket and then dunking them in hot oil is frying them.

                                  1. re: tamerlanenj

                                    In fairness, "pan frying" is also frying. What you're referring to is "deep frying."

                                    1. re: boagman

                                      If I'm not mistaken, originally, burgers we're fried or griddled as it were.

                                      DT

                                      1. re: Davwud

                                        Most still are. McDonald's is the biggest example. It's not a "lost art."

                                        1. re: Bob Martinez

                                          I dont really see how anyone could prefer a grilled burger to a griddled one. Almost all the best burgers I've had are the latter...or broiled, like Abe and Louis. Flame grilling produces drier burgers, imho. Much moister burgers at Bartley's than RFO's, for instance.

                                          1. re: tamerlanenj

                                            I'm good either way. Just so long as it's cooked properly.

                                            DT

                                      2. re: boagman

                                        How about deep fried hot dogs? Like the rippers at Rutt's Hut in Clifton...

                            2. Oh my. You all have forgotten the crown jewel of the White Castle experience:

                              CHICKEN RINGS!

                              Man, when a fast food fix is in order, there ain't nothing like a late night White Castle run for sliders, onion rings, and chicken rings. ;)

                              Last year at this time, we were in a St Louis WC around midnight when three college guys stumbled in. They had been hanging out in their empty dorm room -- in California -- and decided a pilgrimage to a St Louis WC was in order. So they got in the car and didn't stop except for gas until they arrived. Gotta give those guys props for gumption and moxie!

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: litchick

                                Those guys are True Believers, bless them all.

                                But, as an OLD-time WC fan, I must say I have no idea what "chicken rings" are. This is new, especially since the last WC around here closed more than ten years ago.

                                Are they good? (What a silly question, I know.)

                                1. re: Atlantis

                                  Chicken rings are like chicken nuggets, but in the shape of onion rings. As if it weren't difficult enough to fool oneself into thinking the nugget was a natural shape . . .

                                2. re: litchick

                                  I visited Michigan for the first time this year and had to find a White Castle. My meal was three sliders and a side of chicken rings. Both were a very good Chow experience. I can see how many people can be enamored with those little gems. Maybe we can set up a trade between California and the Midwest - 10 White Castles for 10 In-N-Out restaurants!

                                  1. re: litchick

                                    hmmm... sounds like these guys were trying to live out the storyline of "Harold and Kumar go to White Castle"...

                                    1. re: djohnson22

                                      I think most people have lived out portions of that movie. I don't think I've ever had that same craving for McDs or BKs.

                                      Also, I am from Canada where there is no WC (but they did film the movie just outside of Toronto, and actually built a fake restaurant up here -- I would have freaked if I saw that driving around), but also when I'm in the States, it's always a bit of a hunt to try and find one. I got NYC covered, but if I visit any other eastern or midwest city, it's always a check to see if they have WC there.

                                    2. re: litchick

                                      Any WC fan knows that it is chicken rings and onion CHIPS. So much better than onion rings.

                                      And don't forget to slather on the hot sauce, something about WC hot sauce is special. And why not, I'm gonna have heartburn anyway.

                                    3. I have tried WC, but here in the South Krystal rules supreme. I guess it just goes back to what you grew up with. When I first saw a White Castle here, I thought they were trying to rip off Krystal with their second rate product. Felt pretty foolish when I found that WC is actually a lot older.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. Hi Moz, it appears you don't have an "Underrated by Chowhounds" in your Profile. Perhaps White Castle is the answer. When I'm in a city with a White Castle I'll sometimes eat a couple of sliders because I get them so rarely. But I wouldn't steam hamburgers at home.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: bill_in_dunn

                                          You know what, Im going to do just that bill_in_dunn. It has been added to my profile and Im proud of it:)

                                        2. I wear my love of sliders like a badge.

                                          1. I think you should prostrate yourself in front of rworange and beg her forgiveness for even suggesting that a Chowhound could be intimidated by the opinions of others. Follow your own heart, no, gut.

                                            1. I am a White castle fan myself . I can not eat them on every day . Every couple of months I go . BTW they are considered one of the cleanest fast food chain thought out the East coast. WC Coprpate Headquaters has a strict quality control code . Next time you place an order take a look at the floors and the way the prepare .

                                              1. As a fellow Chicagoan, love White Castle! The castle shaped box, the simplicity of a small burger with onions, fries, onion rings, fries and onion rings......I'm falling into a White Castle daze. Living in New York, I'm happy to say I've been to the WC in Williamsburg, on Atlantic Ave, and the one on 4th Ave. They even had WC Valentine's day. Before the transfat ban, I must make an expedition(s). If they delivered Jan 1st? I'd be in heaven.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: sharonm

                                                  I see they're again taking reservations for candlelight Valentine's dinners.

                                                  1. re: Jim Dorsch

                                                    My admiration for a woman who would play along with this knows no bounds. :-)

                                                2. I love White Castle. Back when I used to uh, loosen up, a little more often in college they were a staple.

                                                  1. My first White Castle experience was on Jamaica Ave in Queens, NY, back in the 70s. Fell in love with them. To this day, my first stop in NY is always a meal at White Castles, but now it's the one on Rockaway, and when I'm in the city it's the one on 8th(?) ave. (Nasty!!!)

                                                    I keep it simple, just four to six Cheeseburgers and some fries, and a large DIET coke.

                                                    Still get the crave to this day. Unfortunately I'm in Canada.

                                                    1. Here in the Northeast most White Castles have bulletproof drive through windows.

                                                      1. Yipee, yippeee, yippeeee. Just went to WC for the first time in 6 years.

                                                        You gotta love a place that has on the menu "100 Pack - $53.00" I am NOT kidding. I almost fell over laughing.

                                                        A quick bite mind you (had to get back to the office), only a four pack. You still get your 4-bites of of it but they have definitely skinnied the meat in the past few years, if you can believe it.

                                                        At the recommendation of so many CH'ers I grabbed a chicken sandwich as well. OMG, how awful was it. Could they inject any more salt into that little bugger. BLAH!!! The only reason they needed to fry it was to get the coating cooked, the inside was salt cured. Thank G_d I ate it before the burgers as I would have hated to have the taste of the chix in my mouth all afternoon.

                                                        BTW - I went to the one in NYC on 8th Ave in the mid 30's. It is one skanky 'hood, so be aware that it ain't Park and 57th.

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: jfood

                                                          The "atmosphere" at WC is part of the mystique. I was initiated into the WC brotherhood at the location on Queens Blvd in Long Island City. Love the stainless steel cage and the prison decor, and the drunks and stoned people who hung out there at 2 AM.

                                                          1. re: dpan

                                                            Aw yes, I remember the Queens Blvd location as well. There was a pool hall near there that we used to to back in the 70s/80s. Yeah, I remember it being a bit of a sketchy atmosphere in Queens, but I don't get the comment about the 8th Ave location. Nothing wrong with the area, and I'd prefer that then eating at the Papaya hot dog place up the street. I guess that's another thread though.

                                                            1. re: foodgangsta

                                                              Call me insensitive, I guess I have an aversion to eating in a neighborhood in which 25% of the stores sell adult videos, and it was loads of fun walking around the guys staring at the pictures in the window. Or maybe it was the three guys passed out at the counter, but hey it was 1pm so maybe they have a night shift job and just trying to multi-task with sleeping and eating. It was o so bad I did not sit down, but walked across 39th street while eating. There is no way I'm sitting at this joint, even for a bag of slyders.

                                                            2. re: dpan

                                                              The only one I've been in was in Cincinnati years ago - and it was in a sketchy part of town. The style of architecture was Early Commode - lots of white tile, slick surfaces, totally like my high school shower room. Loved the kitsch factor and the onion chips, but the burgers weren't really my thing. But, whatever turns ya on!!!

                                                          2. I live in an upscale area of New JErsey and have been exposed to a great deal of upscale cuisine in my life, but i am NOT at all ashamed to say that i LOVE white castle!!

                                                            1. i had my first white castle experience a couple of months ago when i took a trip up to New York. I wanted to see what all the talk was about and i have to say, i didnt find it a unique or pleasing experience. yeah, the transvestites crowding the place was eye opening (we were in the city at like 2 am), but the burgers... not so much. and it's not because of a distaste of fast food, i've had my share of chains. but hey, if you like it, you like it. everyone has something they crave that is just totally off...

                                                              just kidding ;)

                                                              1. white castle burgers were just listed in the top one hundred tastes in saveur. so, i guess youre chic. me? ive never tasted a wc burger or a krystal. :/ feeling left out.

                                                                1. I would think Chowhound is a forum for people who love food, and not for people to judge each other because of the food they like/dislike. It's non-judgemental discussion of food. Period.

                                                                  With that said, I used to love White Castle, and I still get occasional hankering for them. If you live in the West Coast, you may find frozen ones in the grocery store freezer (Albertson and Stater Bros have them). They are not bad if you wrap them in damp paper towels before cooking them in the microwave. Not the fresh thing, but it'll tie you over until next East Coast visit. The only drawback is if you eat 10 at a time the regular box of 6 at the grocery store is like $4.5?!

                                                                  1. Have any of you tried the white castle turkey stuffing recipe? It sounds a bit much, I know, but it is truly delicious. I would recommend not putting in as much celery (and leaving the pickles in), but other than that it's good as written. Did it several years back with my family and then brought it out again this year, fantastic.

                                                                    http://whitecastle.com/_pages/recipe_...

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: twoblackeyes

                                                                      Yup! I tried the White Castle stuffing - my wife made it for this year's Thanksgiving table. Amazing! We may never settle for regular stuffing again! :)

                                                                    2. I love them and wish I could have them here in Florida. Must settle on the frozen ones sold at Publix and Wal-Mart. Sigh.

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: sunsuze

                                                                        Well, you do have Krystal! They're awesome! Those little mini burgers should hold you over!

                                                                        1. re: Sra. Swanky

                                                                          I could not agree more. I have eaten W.C., occasionally for 30 years and two months ago had my first Krystal experience. It was like twins separated at birth and growing up in different place. I was stunned at how identical Krystal and W.C are.

                                                                          1. re: stuartlafonda

                                                                            As I stated above, I think Krystal's are better.

                                                                            DT

                                                                      2. I suspect not all WC and Krystals are created equal. There are certain Krystals that are better than others and times Krystals are generally better. I find that a crowded, late night Krystal to have better burgers. IMHO, when the staff does not have time or alertness to clean the grill constantly, this will create a greaser, onion-ier burger (I notice more mustard then also). When the grill is constantly filled with burgers and onions and not cleaned, the buns tend to soak up more grease and ......flavor. Mushy, greasy, oniony, midnight Krystals,.........yum.

                                                                        1. Dare I be contrary? I have nothing against White Castle or Krystal, I’ve tried them both many times, (and I’ll probably eat there again) but I’ve always wondered what the big attraction was? Tiny burgers with very little meat, a squirt of mustard and a piece of onion. They’re tasty enough I guess, but I’d rather have something more substantial that I can sink my teeth into.

                                                                          Without hijacking the thread, can anyone tell me *why* White Castle is so appealing?

                                                                          ed. Sorry, I just realized how old this thread was...

                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                          1. re: cuccubear

                                                                            een doing the white castle thing since the 50s live in so cal now when i go back to jersey i get off at newark airport and burn rubber to white castle on rt 1 9 fried clams fihs sandwich and a couple burgers. then down to pt pleasent and eventually hit the one on rt37.last valentines day my wife was in jersey i made reservaqtions for her whole family they thought it was a hoot and i picked up the tab

                                                                            1. re: cuccubear

                                                                              I think it's just one of those "you grew up eating them" nostalgia things. We had a version of White Castle/Krystal in DC called Little Tavern: same basic concept. "Buy 'em by the bag!" was their slogan, and they did most of their business after the bars closed. It's not about being a substantial burger meal, it's about the perfect proportion of doughy bun to little burger. There's a certain minimalist gestalt to the steamed bun, the grilled onions, the perforated meat slab with pickle that no hoity-toity seared ahi tuna "slider" on brioche, three-for-$14 can satisfy.

                                                                              1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                Thanks, that last line says it all...I can dig it.

                                                                                "hoity-toity seared ahi tuna 'slider' on brioche" - I'll be laughing all day :-)

                                                                            2. Both White Castle and Krystals are equally good, but equally different. We had a white castle's years ago, but they folded due probably to a bad location. That was a space of about 3 years when it was here. We have a Krystals and once had 2 but the second one closed also due to a bad location.

                                                                              Krystal's have some other items on it's menu that's worth trying. I swear the Chili pups are the closest I've found to a ballpark chili dog outside of a ballpark. The Krystal Chik's are pretty good as well. Krystal's Chili(just the plain chili) is pretty good too.

                                                                              Both White Castle and Krystal's are unique in the "burger world" and require mostly cravers, not regular eaters. Yes, it's often the only choice after the bars close.

                                                                              Don't feel bad about liking some "low brow" places. I've been to "Epicurian delight" places and most times they're all talk and no substance. The food is usually served cold, the waiter/waitress is surly, the wine tastes like warm piss, and the portions wouldn't fill up a gerbil.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: Shadowcran

                                                                                ok enough is enough STOP all this white castle talk is killin me im jonesing

                                                                              2. I buy a whole bag of white castle and eat them like candy.

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: phr4eaker19

                                                                                  it takes longer to eat a hershey's bar than a WC. That is why you need 4-6 slyders to eat.

                                                                                  1. re: jfood

                                                                                    IAs soon as I'm able to, I'm getting my customary sack of 10!!! (but you're right, jfood - I always end up eating about 6!) :o)

                                                                                2. Just took a road trip from Montreal to Atlantic City and detoured to a nearby White Castle. This was my first experience and i really liked it. Three of us got a crave case and also tried a chicken slider and pulled pork slider. The chicken was good and the pulled pork wasn't my thing. This place rocks!

                                                                                  1. I have been eating the glorious WC burgers since 1966. We lived in Lexington KY, and we had to drive to Cincinnati OH (metro) to buy the li'l darlings.

                                                                                    My mom and dad live in Bowling Green KY, so when I go back to see them, I always get a crave case. LONG LIVE WHITE CASTLE!!

                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: cemab4y

                                                                                      Nashville is one of the only locations to have both Krystal and White Castle. Being a Southerner, I was raised to believe that Krystal is good and White Castle is a Yankee abomination. Truth be told, though, I actually like WC better...they're more gluey.

                                                                                      1. re: jamiecarroll

                                                                                        I knew I loved Nashville for more than the music! jamiecarroll, I'm a Northerner with a preference for Krystal! (ain't it always the case!) You're very lucky to have both WC and Krystal. I found out about Krystal on a Tennessee vacation in 2006...from the chicks to the pups to the shakes -- Krystal has such a great menu - WC doesn't have that kind of variety. I love WC, don't get me wrong, but Krystal has that something extra...even the website is more fun!

                                                                                      2. re: cemab4y

                                                                                        Thanks for bringing back a great memory! I was living in Lexington in the early 1980s when the first White Castle in the area opened (on New Circle Rd. near Russell Cave). A co-worker and I made about a 10-mile round trip on our lunch hour, fought our way through the crowds, bought a huge sack, returned and LOCKED OURSELVES in an office while we worked our way through about 10 White Castles apiece. It was heaven on earth. :)

                                                                                        1. re: Emm

                                                                                          i am surprised no one has mentioned the excellent dusseldorf mustard you can get on a white castle but not on a krystal. white castle to me is better as the bun and entire product seems moister than the krystal variety. plus the WC mustard is the bomb!!!!!!!

                                                                                      3. In my more decadent days (when I wasn't so worried about dying from a heart attack :o), I would slather more mayo and ketchup on the burgers once I got them home or after they finished heatig up in the microwave (yes, the frozen ones are almost as tasty as the fresh ones!).

                                                                                        Ahh...this makes me wish there were White Castles near me and not just in my home town. I love visiting my parents for all the wonderful fast food memories I can relive.