Fast food has come a long way from just Big Macs and buckets of the Colonel’s finest. Fast food 2.0 is not only about convenience, but also about fresh, high quality ingredients and real food to fuel our constantly connected, non-stop lives. Do yourself one better with these favourite fast food spots that don’t discriminate on price on card purchases.
Cape Grim grass-fed beef, Lilydale free range chicken and produce with provenance – it’s not fine dining, but a gourmet burger bar with a conscience, courtesy of chef Neil Perry. It’s fast food with slow food values. The patties are hand formed each morning, chips are chunky, soft serve is housemade, and the shakes are made with Valrhona chocolate. Need a fast snack? Opt for a classic, unbeatable American-style burger or ‘the Aussie’ for bonus beetroot. The packed out tables at lunch are testament to the popularity of this place.
Good Mexican food isn’t easy to come by in Australia, but Guzman y Gomez is working on it. Bright yellow branding alerts hungry folks to the fact that they’re just steps away from a brilliant burrito bursting at the seams. Fillings are fresh as, including pulled pork, slow-cooked beef, guac and pico de gallo. Bonus points for the salsa station that lets you amp up the spice on your Cali Burrito (that’s a Mexican burrito with fries inside) to your favourite level of flaming hot. Pair it with a jewel-coloured Jarritos aqua fresca-style soda then finish with churros y chocolate for maximum Mexican authenticity. Download the app and your first in-app burrito buy is on the house. Buen aprovecho.
There was a time when it wasn’t possible to get good ramen outside of Japan, but that’s changed – to the relief of ramen lovers everywhere. Ippudo is wildly popular in its home country and now has a serious following Down Under too. For more than 30 years, this chain, which was founded by ramen king Shigemi Kawahara in Hakata, has been churning out piping hot bowls of creamy Hakata-style ramen from a vast menu offering up every kind of ramen your noodle-loving heart could dream up. In the queues that snake back and forth for lunch and dinner, people patiently wait for their favourites – airy tempura, crunchy dressed cucumbers, black garlic ramen, savoury bites of gyoza or, for Sydneysiders, the exclusive Tori Shoyu ramen.
For the finger lickin’ good crowd, there’s a new brand on the block. It’s Belle’s and they’re serving up a Tennessee’s finest fried-chicken – Nashville Hot Chicken – brought back to Australia’s fair shores by chef Morgan McGlone. From tenders to drumsticks, you can test your tolerance for spice, ranging from not-so-hot Southern to a fiery Really F**kin Hot. Fried chicken sandwiches hit the spot; they’re laden with toppings and sides like housemade slaw and mac’n’cheese. Steady your inner Southern belle with a glass of natural Aussie wine – McGlone’s second passion.
Meat pies are still Australia’s favourite fast food: two hundred million of them are consumed every year. Harry’s Café de Wheels has been supplying pies and peas to locals, tourists and celebrities on the waterfront at Woolloomooloo Wharf for nearly eight decades. Now owned by Michael Hannah of city-fringe piemaker Hannah’s, the harbour-side kiosk keeps dishes out meat pies, hot dogs and pasties to sate Sydney’s Instagram users. Harry's Tiger takes top spot on the menu – the chunky lean beef pie is topped with the triple threat of mushy peas, mash and gravy, perfect for the really hungry or wildly hungover.
This place isn’t just for the diehard dieters or the macrobiotic maniacs – it’s for anyone who believes they are what they eat. You’ll get nourishing, wholesome vegetarian comfort food that happens to be made with ingredients that aren’t gut bombs. Warming casseroles and curries, savoury vegetarian lasagna, hearty adzuki-bean pies, or pickled red cabbage coleslaw, fresh greens, beans and veg will fill you up with nutrient-dense fare that’s surprisingly tasty and won’t send you into a mid-afternoon slump. Finish up with desserts like black rice pudding and lemon sago – treats that don’t spell diabetes.
Simple, fresh, local, sustainable. It’s almost like listening to Gordon Ramsay on Kitchen Nightmares. But there’s nothing nightmarish about this chain churning out some of the best Greek street food in Sydney. Traditional recipes go through a modern treatment here. Everything’s made fresh with ingredients sourced as locally as possible. Take the Papou Nico pita, which is packed with souvla pork, Aegean slaw, caramelised onions, preserved lemon mayo and parsley. For workday warriors the Spartan Box – chicken, lamb or pork, Aegean slaw, tzatziki and pilaf – will help you battle through to quitting time. Salads are a bounty of crunchy, fresh veg, with sides such as spanikopita and golden grilled halloumi. It’s all packaged in a hip space – a mirrored, back-iit lightning bolt marking the spot – with the sort of Greek hospitality that makes you feel like family.
The schitty often gets a bad rap as the darling of the mid-week pub specials menu. But don’t let that deter you. This German dish has been a solid Aussie staple for decades and it's the ideal dish for the fast-food format. Luckily schnitzel expert Roman Dyduk has perfected the art of the schnitty with a special crumb, pan frying your bird to order. Get a plate with a side salad for a grown-up midday meal, upgrading to a parma with premium red sauce and melted mozzarella cheese. Sandwiches are available if you're in a hurry and the Aussie is topped with egg, beetroot and bacon for those who bleed green and gold.