Listen very carefully: I don’t want no healthy food. I don’t want your blueberry yogurt or your veg-e-tables. Unless they’re fried. If they’re fried that’s cool. I would eat fried yogurt. Or Yogurt with candy in it – I love that.

What I’m getting at is that I love bad food. I love fast food. I love burgers and hot dogs and pizza and Italian beef. Which is what’s so great about my job here at CBS Chicago. I get to write and read articles about this junk all day.

Being the singular expert on ‘Best Of’ articles about fast food, I went ahead and compiled a list of some of the best of the best. So I present to you, my friends, the best fast food I had to eat for my job this year!

Here’s to my health!

(credit: Steve Hardy/CBS Local)

You know, I don’t care if everyone and their mother knows about Hot Doug’s. The best is the best, regardless of whether it’s popular or not. Hot Doug’s is the king of encased meats. So go, wait in line longer than you feel you should have to, and eat a great hot dog or sausage. Don’t get a regular ol’ Vienna dog though, that’d be a waste. They’ve got a whole, wide world of signature dogs and sausages, so why not be a little adventurous?

Check out my picks for the best hot dogs in Chicago!


I think it’s the Texas toast that truly makes me love The Bad Apple’s Big Texan. That, or the pulled pork, BBQ sauce and onion rings. No burger, for whatever reason, made me happier in 2011. Kuma’s may be more popular and the burger I ate at Nana Organic (with a fried egg on top and covered in maple Dijon bacon) may have been the best quality burger I’ve had this year (which was a surprise), but no other burger has made me smile like The Bad Apple’s Big Texan. And that has to count for something.

Read about my other burger choices in this burger guide!

This isn’t the best deep dish pizza in the city. It’s really damn good though. And, sure, maybe there are places you can get better pies, but this is, without a doubt in my crazy mind, the best place you can get deep dish by the slice. If I want, say, Giordano’s, I gotta go and get the whole family together, or a group of friends together, to consume a whole pizza. On the days I want to sit down and eat a slice of deep dish alone, contemplating life and varying intellectual pursuits (like the best strategy for pogs), I go to Art of Pizza.

Read my entire deep dish pizza guide here!

(credit: Johnnie's Beef's Facebook)

Wow. People really rebelled against my Best Italian Beefs article. I have a secret, please don’t hate me for it: I don’t really like Al’s Beef. This is just an opinion. An unpopular opinion. So don’t stab me. You’re welcome to like Al’s, I know that many people do, so there must be something great about them, I’ve just never had any great experiences at any of the locations.

I love Johnnie’s though. I wouldn’t suggest getting anything but an Italian beef or a combo at one of their locations, but that’s fine, cause their beefs are perfect. It’s like they’ve uncovered the secret of making their beefs with peppers. It’s amazing.

I eat so many burritos. So many. I thought I might get sick of burritos at some point, but it has yet to happen.

My favorite place to eat a burrito is El Cid, specifically the Kedzie location. What can I say? They don’t skimp on quality. It’s that nice in between of not-too-expensive and decently made. For those of you who read my Best Burritos in Logan Square article, you’ll note that La Pasadita was previously my favorite place for burritos. While I still love La Pasadita, El Cid has usurped them.

Sorry La Pasadita, I hope you can forgive me!

Well there it is! My favorite fast food from 2011. You probably have a problem with it, but I don’t care. Your opinions can’t fill my belly with goodness, only burritos, burgers and hot dogs can, and that’s that. If you do have an opinion you just NEED to share though, there’s always the comment section.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with high blood pressure and future heart disease.

Have something you want us to write about or cover? A great restaurant, a gripe, that community theatre down the street… ? Feel free to send your article ideas to!
Mason Johnson, CBS Chicago