My new favorite fast food joint

I caught Dining & Wine > At the Nation’s Table: Fast Food That’s Straight From the Farm” href=”http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/28/dining/28TABL.html?ex=1398484800&en=3da8bc75a21cbf44&ei=5007&partner=USERLAND”>this story about Burgerville in the NYTimes last month and was intrigued to hear that an Oregon fast food place was doing seasonal items and using local meat and produce, just like a high falutin’ restuarant. I had seen Burgervilles often since I moved to Oregon and I’ve ignored them all this time because they appeared to be some local-yokel chain with a generic, boring name and exterior to match.

Today I finally checked them out and I was blown away. Now, I’ve read Fast Food Nation, and I know pretty much everyone in the industry is panned except for In-N-Out. I enjoy In-N-Out burger whenever I’m in California, but after trying Burgerville, I have to say that if Schlosser wrote about them, there’s no doubt he would have praised them more than In-N-Out.

The following is a partial list of what they have going for them. Every couple of months, whatever’s in season is an item on the menu, and they buy from local producers. My strawberry shake tonight was loaded with a ridiculous amount of chunked fresh strawberries. They offer not one but two different veggie burgers on the menu. They let you add local favorite Tillamook cheese to burgers, just like I have at home. The turkey burgers are made with only cage-free birds. All the beef is Oregon-raised and fed vegetarian diets so you’ll never have a mad cow problem. The fish and chips use halibut caught in the Northwest. All buns come from an area bakery. They had nutrition info right on counter, clear as day. And while waiting for my food inside one of their locations today, I noticed in a rack of information on the company there was a pamphlet explaining some healthy environment certification that the chain received because they only buy from responsible farmers and ranchers. Crazy, no?

The food was great, better than what I expect from fast food, but the company philosophy and the way they conduct their business really blew me away. It’s not everyday you find a place with a drive-thru selling greasy burgers that cares about anything aside from the quick buck. I think I may have found something better than In-N-Out and I’m glad to know it’s in my new home state.