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Best NON-BURGER/NON-FRIED Fast Food Meals

  • k

There was a time when "fast food" mostly meant burgers and fried food (e.g. fried chicken). These two options still probably account for most drive-thru/take-out/quick sit-down meals in fast food restaurants.

Do you sometimes want the convenience of drive-thru or fast food take-out but you don't even go to the ones in your neighborhood (or when you travel) because you don't know any other options they might have that are not burgers or not fried?

Or, like me, do you not necessarily take time reading the menu board at fast food drive-thrus so you order the same old, same old all the time without necessarily knowing there might be something else you'd enjoy more on the menu?

Well, this is the place to share your favorite Non-Burger, Non-Fried Fast Food Meals so others will know what to try! :)

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  1. Sonic
    Grilled Chicken Wrap

    Wendy's
    Grilled Chicken on Bun, big Salads

    Jimmy John's
    Lots of tasty subs. My fav is the Club Lulu (turkey breast, bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayo). No drive-thru (at least none I've seen) but they deliver!
    http://www.jimmyjohns.com

    Culver's
    Pot Roast Sandwich, big Salads (my fav is Avocado Pecan Bleu with Blackened Chicken), daily specials often feature non-burger/non-fried options.
    http://www.culvers.com

    Mr. Goodcents
    Tasty subs, pasta, soups, salads.
    They have 130 shops in 15 states; I like them much better than Subway.
    http://www.mrgoodcents.com

    Boston Market
    While I find most of their dinner meals (turkey, meatloaf, pot pies, etc.) to be far too salty, I do like their big Market Chopped Salad. I can also find a quick carton of mashed potato comfort food there!
    http://www.bostonmarket.com

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    1. Wendy's - Oriental Chicken Salad and Taco Salad

      Chipotle - any of their burritos! :)

      Boston Market - chicken tortilla soup

      Steak & Shake - Chili-mac

      Quiznos -- Corn chowder (has a nice spice to it!)

      2 Replies
      1. re: lizrdkng67

        Did you know that you can buy a 99-Cent cup of their chili and a 99-cent side salad to make your own taco salad for $2.00? heh...a co-worker with CPA clued me in...not too too bad for a somewhat healthy inexpensive meal! Ooops...does the ground beef in the chili count as "burger" in OP's view? We may have erred....

        1. re: Val

          >> does the ground beef in the chili count as "burger" in OP's view?

          Nah. Hardly enough ground beef in fast food chili to qualify as the equivalent of a burger on bun. :)

      2. I don't generally eat "fast food", but will not pass by Smithfields when I'm down South, for eastern NC BBQ, hushpuppies, sweet tea and banana pudding.
        http://www.smithfieldschicken.com/

        1. El Pollo Loco - the grilled chicken is fantastic, so are the condiments.

          Baja Fresh - fresh ingredients.

          Chipotle - Everything, with the exception of the hand fried tortilla chips, are not fried.

          1 Reply
          1. re: dpan

            I'll second the El Pollo Loco recommendation....

          2. If you mean "quick" instead of "drive-thru", alot of chain supermarkets have a great variety of sliced deli meats, cold salads, rotisserie chickens,fresh baked breads,rolls,or pastry.The pick nik is on,just grab a bottle of wine while you're at it, and fresh fruit for dessert.

            1 Reply
            1. re: shoshana

              Grocery store counters will do! :)

              And that's a good reminder for folks for "custom made" quick meals!

              I have one local grocery here (Cosentino's in the Brookside district of Kansas City, Missouri) that has a huge and outstanding island for those who want quick meals or snacks to go.

              Their salad bar is simply divine. Must have 60+ items on it and it's always kept tidy and well stocked. Veggies, fruits, grated and crumbled cheeses, croutons, nuts, kidney beans, pudding, etc. And they offer decent containers; quality plastic forks, spoons and knives each individually wrapped; lots of napkins; and rubber bands and scotch tape to secure your salad box if you feel the need.

              Their hot food section usually has the most fantastic rustic garlic mashed potatoes, fresh steamed veggies, mac 'n cheese, fried chicken, diverse raviolis (filled with wonderful things like portabello mushrooms!), stir fry, two soup options daily, and several other options.

              In their long, long cold case, they have marvelous potato and pasta salads, chicken and tuna salad, hummus, dolmades, grilled salmon, marinated veggies, and probably a dozen or more other goodies, along with a very large selection of quality deli meats and cheese to be sliced to order.

              The staff is terrific there, too.

              They've got a fine wine department right in the next aisle from this big chow island and there are several varieties of artisan breads and rolls plus fun crackers, lavosh, etc. stocked right there so I don't have to prowl all over the store for them.

            2. When in Atlanta, try Willie's. Fresh Mex but very quick. The food is SOOOOO good.

              1. I don't know if this is 'chain' but it certainly is fast food. I like to get what I call "mall sushi". Usually a pre-made (that morning) assortment, like 4 piece nigiri sushi and a 6-piece roll. Quality depends on the place, but here in Philadelphia there are several places in the city of high quality, and the Cherry Hill Mall has a great place. Downside of course is cost, maybe $7 to $9 for a package. But generally lowish-fat and healthy. They seem to have one of these places at every mall food court.

                  1. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Ruby Tuesday's has an awesome salad bar. But really, any salad bar will do.

                    I also like chains like SaladWorks and Hale and Hearty Soups.

                    Generally, I hit breakfast chains because it's easier to find healthy stuff. Even IHOP does egg-white omelets.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: piccola

                      piccola

                      I've been looking for a salad bar, I have Ruby Tuesday's but I've never tried them. Can you give me more details? They seem to be the only place anywhere around.

                      1. re: othervoice

                        Sure. RT has a $7.99 all-you-can-eat salad bar deal (it's a few bucks more if you want a sandwich). The bar has a few types of greens, tons of veggies, fruits, nuts, beans, meats and cheeses, along with some prepared salads (pasta, roasted veggies, Greek, etc.). There are a couple dressings, too.

                        In my experience, everything has always been fresh and clean, and they refill pretty often.

                    2. I second the grilled chicken wrap at Sonic.

                      Also, chicken soft tacos and bean burritos from Taco Bell.

                      Most frequent, since they're here in town and the others are 45 miles away, would be the Chicken Bacon Ranch from Subway.

                      1. Most things at Panda Express if you don't include the Orange Chicken or the Fried Shrimp.

                        Try the Mandarin Chicken or the Firecracker Beef.

                        1. Market fresh chicken salad sandwich at Arby's! Yum

                          1. Ruby Tuesday's salad bar is okay but it seems to vary from place to place - we went to one that had yummy fresh fruit for dessert and nachos with salsa and a selection of cheeses, so you could literally make a full meal off the salad bar and not feel deprived... but our local one only has the basic salad stuff and it's not nearly so nice. If you go get the salad-bar-and-chilli special... the white bean chilli is very satisfying.

                            Sweet Tomatoes is delicious! Cafeteria-style-ambience, but nice fresh food that's not too salty or greasy.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Kajikit

                              I agree with this. The one near our home is quite meager, just the basics, however I will say that it is clean as a whistle and the greens are always super fresh and not the usual romaine/iceberg you usually find. And it's always always kept freshly stocked. Quite a nice difference from many other places where you feel you have to wipe up the bar as you go along.

                              1. re: sivyaleah

                                I can't claim a wide RB experience - I've been to two different locations - but both had pretty lavish salad bars. Makes sense it would vary by location, though.

                            2. Taco Time has a decent chicken chili (I add a bit of hot sauce to give it a kick), and a good taco salad with chips. I guess the tostada salad may count as fried since the shell it's served in is fried.

                              1. What I think is the most obvious choice hasn't been mentioned yet: Subway.

                                I confess that I was one of those people who went on a variation of the much-hyped Subway diet a few years ago. And surprise, surprise, it worked.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Arthur

                                  I've never been all that please with Subway and there's a chain based out of my hometown (Mr. Goodcents) that, in my opinion, is much better than Subway so I stay loyal to them -- or else I stop at Jimmy John's.

                                  Schlotsky's doesn't float my boat either. Though their fillings are decent, the bread always feels gummy to me.

                                2. We always look for Schlotsky's when we're on road trips as our "fast food" alternative. Their sandwiches are fresh, good and hot with good bread, they have lower-fat versions, and they always have good soup.

                                  1. My fave in a hurry fast food meals:

                                    Wendy's Chili and a baked potato or a side salad.

                                    I'm a sucker for a meximelt and a soft taco from taco-bell

                                    Hardee's sausage egg & cheese biscuit

                                    Bojangles' Sausage egg & cheese biscuit

                                    1. Grilled Chicken pita #2 or Mediterranian tuna pita from Zoe's.

                                      Engineer turkey sandwich from Firehouse Subs.

                                      Buffalo chicken wrap from Tropical Smoothie.

                                      Boston Market turkey sandwich with cinnamon apples on the side.

                                      1. Pretty much anything from Moe's Southwest Grill... the tortilla chips are fried (and tasty), but everything is fresh and tasty.

                                        1. I love (to some it may be boring) Subway's veggie sub on the honey wheat bread and balsamic dressing. But that's just me trying to loose a few..

                                          1. Baja Fresh - Chipotle Chicken Salad....SO GOOD!

                                            1. If you're in South Florida, try Pollo Tropical. Excellent marinated grilled chicken, black beans and rice, plantains, pork etc. It's traditional Cuban food with a fast food spin. There are a few in the Orlando area too.