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I moved from Chicago to LA about 6 years ago but I miss some fast-food chains I had in the Midwest.
Al’s Beef is one of the best places to get good Italian beef, and Culver’s is a Midwest staple.
White Castle’s sliders are so delicious and are a hit at parties.
In 2016, I packed up my car and moved from Chicago to Los Angeles.
Six years later, I still love my new home and finally feel settled. As expected, I miss my family and friends, and occasionally even the cold.
And even though LA is a great city for food, I also unexpectedly and deeply miss a few important fast-food chains that simply don’t have a presence on the West Coast.
Al’s Beef makes it easy for Chicagoans to find good Italian beef
I am not sure what high-school graduates serve at their parties in LA, but in Chicago, there’s almost always Italian beef.
There are plenty of places in Chicago to get a great Italian-beef sandwich, but Al’s Beef is a reliable chain I miss. You can always count on it for a delicious, overly stuffed sub or a good hot dog.
The restaurant only has six locations throughout Illinois, mostly in the Chicago area.
I’d be remiss to not also mention Portillo’s, a fabulous chain with a big menu and equally delicious roast-beef sandwich, but there are two locations within driving distance of LA. Still, I miss having one close by.
White Castle’s tiny burgers are a unique staple
This may be a polarizing choice, but I love the chain’s square, onion-covered sliders with all my heart. When you want that White Castle taste, there’s nothing else that’ll satisfy.
Founded in Kansas, the chain is most prevalent throughout the Midwest, but there are locations in states across the country, like Arizona and Florida. None in California, though.
You can get a variety of slider flavors and sides — like mozzarella sticks, fries, onion rings, chicken rings, and fish bites — to round out your meal.
It’s also a massive crowd-pleaser. I’ve brought a Crave Case — a briefcase-shaped box of 30 White Castle sliders — to a party, a wedding reception, and my grandmother’s house, and was always hailed as a conquering hero.
Plus, if you don’t eat beef, the chicken sandwiches are great and underrated.
I miss the ButterBurgers, cheese curds, and custard from Culver’s
Most fast-food restaurants serve a variety of comfort foods, and Culver’s elevates this concept with an amazing menu.
The chain started in Wisconsin, but there are now Culver’s locations around most of the US, except the West Coast and Northeast.
It’s the place you stop when you’re welcoming a friend home from war or supporting them after a nasty breakup.
The ButterBurgers are absolutely incredible. And if you’ve never had cheese curds, I advise you get some from Culver’s. These fried balls feature Wisconsin cheese, so you know they’re good.
If you want something sweet, try the fresh, frozen custard. It’s made on-site all day.
Chicago is known for its pizza, and Beggars sells my pie of choice
I obviously had to mention pizza. There are many excellent joints throughout Chicago, but Beggars is my favorite. There are several locations in Illinois and Indiana.
The sausage pizza is out of this world, with huge chunks of perfectly seasoned meat generously scattered over the entire pie.
Plus Beggars is the official pizza partner of the Chicago White Sox, the city’s other baseball team that Hollywood rarely chooses to highlight over the Cubs.
The chain does serve deep-dish, but I prefer the thin-crust, party-cut pizza. The little squares with zingy tomato sauce and sausage make for a perfect bite.
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