Meanwhile, your trash can is full of Styrofoam cartons emblazoned with cartoon logos shilling for all the foods you shouldn’t love but do anyway.
So why fight it? If you’re going to stuff your gullet with fast-food favorites, at least you can get something made fresh, right? That’s why it’s time for another roundup of Eat This, Not That for the local set.
Long John Silver’s battered fried fish vs. Bricktown Brewery’s Corn Flakes and catfish
This isn’t London. So cut it out with your “Keep Calm and Carry On” merchandise and your fake accent. If it was London, I’d care less about dental hygiene and more about some jolly good fish and chips.
Here in the Yankee states, we Oklahomans might find good fish and chips a little harder to come by. Maybe because we’re landlocked?
Oklahoma City has a few fine spots for fried seafood, including the Bricktown Brewery. After revamping its menu, the restaurant began serving catfish covered in Corn Flakes and Cajun seasonings. The whole mess is deep-fried until it’s golden brown and served with house-made tartar sauce.
(It’s even nice enough to suggest a beer pairing. Bet you won’t find that at Long John’s.)
Catfish is not cod. Corn Flakes aren’t batter. But if you want tasty fried fish, this is it. Plus, no one is going to put a cardboard pirate hat on your head ... unless I get bored.
McDonald’s Egg McMuffin vs. Ingrid’s Kitchen’s McIngrid’s breakfast sandwich
You’re late to work. OK, you’re not late-late, but you’re definitely too late to stop and get something good. So you pull through that familiar drive-through, and you stare at the menu and you think, “Well, I guess today’s ruined.”
An Egg McMuffin tastes good for a second, sure, but as soon as you swallow, your belly is full of regret (and, to some extent, Egg McMuffin). But there’s a better way.
If you still desire a breakfast sandwich, look no further than Ingrid’s Kitchen and the McIngrid’s. See, it might serve German food, but it still has a sense of humor. And a sense of taste, since it serves up a fresh-made bagel with a fried egg, two strips of bacon, tomato, cheese and mayo inside.
“Customers can choose any of the bagels we have,” said Lisa Leclair, Ingrid’s assistant manager. “The cheddar, onion and garlic one is our main seller in the morning.”
It’s hearty, filling and, as Leclair is happy to point out, there are no preservatives in the bread. Or in anything. It’s all fresh, in case you’d like to start the day by not murdering yourself with bad food.
Taco Bueno’s tacos vs. Los Comales
Why skip Bueno and head to Los Comales, you ask? Because you should eat a real taco at some point in your life. I get it; I like a crispy taco, too. I also enjoy my mom’s version of goulash, which is about as close to the Eastern European staple dish as I am Eastern European. But this is Oklahoma, where we’re not that far from Mexico, where the taco was born. We have Mexican-born residents who make really great tacos.
Seasoned ground beef is fine, I guess, but it pales in comparison to carne asada (that’s seasoned steak) or pork in red chile sauce. Or go a little crazy and get the lengua taco. That’s tongue, by the by, but if prepared correctly — as the good people at Los Comales do — it’s tender and delicious.
You want a bean and cheese burrito or a chicken sandwich or a quesadilla? Los Comales has you covered.
It’s not Tex-Mex and it’s not fast food, although the dishes are served quickly. These are tacos as they were intended to be eaten; I intend to eat many.
Arby’s roast beef vs. Deep Fork Grill’s shaved prime rib sandwich
When someone says, “I’m thinking Arby’s,” you know they are not thinking. In fact, chances are they were in some kind of industrial accident and the remaining blobs of brain encased in their stapled-together cranium can only dredge up a few words.
You’ve been in an Arby’s. You’ve seen that processed beef-loaf thing they slice and slap on your overpriced sandwich. Upcharge for cheese goo? Free Horsey Sauce? Not good enough, Arby’s. Not even close.
Not when there’s Deep Fork Grill, where one can get the shaved prime rib sandwich on a piece of yummy French bread, slathered in Swiss cheese and its own tangy, spicy and delicious horseradish sauce. Oh, and it comes with some salty, beefy au jus.
You’ll be mid-bite, a ridiculous grin plastered on your face, when you’ll hear somebody say, “Isn’t there some kind of gross fast-food chain that cooks roast beef?” And then, and only then, will you think, “Arby’s?” before taking another satisfying bite of a real roast beef sandwich.
Photos by Mark Hancock