Fast-casual restaurants are great, aren’t they? They offer a wider range of food items than fast-food restaurants, and generally the food quality is better. But unlike fine dining restaurants, the overall atmosphere is much more relaxed, and the prices sure aren’t as stressful.
And if they’re chain restaurants, that means you have more locations so you’re more likely to find a place near your home. Besides, having more locations is generally a sign of success—that means they’re doing something right!
With the restaurant landscape constantly changing, here are some fast-casual chains that you might not have tried yet. It’s time you do, as they offer terrific food, expansive menus, relaxed locations, and very reasonable prices!
One upon a time, there was a group of American buddies who were all of Greek heritage. Every summer, their parents brought them to Greece so they could discover their families’ culture, and of course, they discovered the cuisine as well. And when they got home, they’d constantly whine about how the American foods just couldn’t compare to the Greek food they’ve come to love.
This group of friends then went on to start Greek Xpress in 2013. They wanted to share the food they love made in the high quality they were used to. Their menu offers exceptional pitas, gyros, souvlaki, and baklava, and their customers love it. Now they have 8 locations, although they’re all in New York.
This place is all about offering fresh ingredients for everything, and that’s saying something when you factor in the long list of items available on the menu. Everything here is made to order as well. They prepare all the ingredients by hand, such as the fruits, veggies, and dressings. They slice the meats by hand, and cook every in plain view in their open-view kitchen.
This place has sandwiches and hand-rolled pizzas, plenty of different entrée salads, and kettle-batch soups. They even have their own in-house bakery, where they make their famous signature Dozen-Layer Cakes. Order a lot of the food if you want, as Newk’s Eatery menu prices are very reasonable.
The “Roundtable” is perhaps the most famous feature here. Get your freshly prepared garnishes here, such as roasted garlic, capers, and croutons made in-house. This is the condiment bar where they can turn any food into fantastic classics.
Ike’s Love & Sandwiches
This much-loved chain restaurant is famous for their huge sandwiches and wide range of toppings. It has grown slowly since its launch in 2007, but now they have more than 70 locations across the country.
The menu is insanely huge, since it includes more than 800 different specialty sandwiches (seriously). What makes many of them absolutely delicious is that they use their custom bread, and there are 5 versions of these. These are the Dutch Crunch Bread (the most popular, made from soft Dutch crunch), sourdough, French, whole wheat, and gluten-free rolls.
Then there’s Ike’s signature Dirty Sauce, and Ike’s hasn’t exactly publicized the secret recipe for this. But it tastes like garlicky aioli, and they toast it right onto the bread.
Curry Up Now
This brand started out as a food truck back in 2009, and today it’s famous in the country with locations from coast to coast. The place serves Indian ingredients and flavors in a way that even newbies will appreciate. You can then get a proper introduction to such Indian street food treats as Bhel Puri, Kathi Rolls, and Thali Platters. You can enjoy naan, tikka masala burritos, and Indian-influenced tacos and samosas.
There’s something here for everyone, including those on uncommon diets. Whether you’re into Halal, vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free, there’s a dish here for you.
The Halal Guys
The brand is now fast becoming a worldwide business, with 94 locations currently and more than 400 more planned globally. But it all started out as a food cart operated by 3 immigrants in NYC.
This was in 1990, when authentic halal food wasn’t all that common even in Gotham. They offered a service that wasn’t available before, so it didn’t take long for the word to spread about their unique American Halal dishes. It didn’t hurt that their food was fresh and delicious, and they offered friendly service. These are the hallmarks that you’ll still find in every The Halal Guys restaurant today.
MUTTS Canine Cantina
Do you have a dog, and do you hate it that you often can’t bring your favorite canine buddy out to eat? But you can at MUTTS, as this is a bar and restaurant that’s also a dog park. That means you can enjoy your beer, cocktails, and glasses of wine along with some delicious food while your dog enjoys himself (or herself) in the private dog park. If you consider your dog as part of the family, then this is a real family-friendly place!