Fast casual dining is still going strong, and for good reason. Combine quick service with sit-down dining, and food that’s made of quality ingredients (such as locally-sourced and healthier options), fast casual has plenty to bring to the table. And we have the chefs behind the concepts to thank.
Chefs all over the country have been serving up some delicious eats inside their casual venues, making for an tasty experience diners feel good about. Here are some of the top fast casual chefs to check out now.
Richard Blais, FLIP Burger Boutique
There is nothing ordinary about what chef Richard Blais (Top Chef All-Stars and Iron Chef America) does at FLIP Burger. The chef-driven joint with locations in Atlanta, Nashville, and Birmingham, offers handmade patties mastered with real ingredients from local farms and fisheries. And with Blais' innovative approach to creating high-quality, contemporary burgers, there’s no telling what might end up on the menu. Mixing things up to provide guests different, rotating options of angus beef, blackened shrimp, and fried chicken, there's always something new to discover.
Spike Mendelsohn, Good Stuff Eatery
Top Chef contestant, Spike Mendelsohn pleases the palates of his Washington D.C. guests with his fast casual concept, Good Stuff Eatery. And with operations in Chicago and Saudi Arabia, more eaters get to savor the solid burgers and shakes this chain is known to produce. Mendelsohn keeps things simple by using quality ingredients sourced from local farms to create handcrafted items that won’t break the bank.
Rick Bayless, Xoco
American chef Rick Bayless knows how to create serious Mexican-inspired street food, seen at his Chicago counter, Xoco. Made-to-order breakfasts (egg and zucchini torta) and modern takes on authentic eats (pork belly noodles or goats milk flan) allow both busy and hungry customers the best options to eat and run or stay and dine.
Chef José Andrés, Beefsteak
James Beard Foundation’s “Outstanding Chef,” José Andrés puts veggies on display inside his fast casual spot, Beefsteak. With many high-end restaurants under his belt (think: Bazaar by José Andrés in Miami and Zaytinya in Washington D.C.), Andrés keeps things simple at Beefsteak, creating less expensive dishes for casual diners looking for a healthy and quick meal. But he stays true to his roots, using only the freshest ingredients to create hearty veggie bowls prepared on-the-spot.
Tom Colicchio & Sisha Ortuzar, Wichcraft
As co-founders of the New York City staple, Wichcraft, Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio and Chile-born chef Sisha Ortuzar team up to offer top-of-the-line gourmet sandwiches in a casual setting. They set off to not only create better options than most fast food chains, but also menu items that are sustainable and healthy, leaving the guilt behind. Using only the freshest ingredients (like Colicchio is known for in his other establishments, such as Craft), this team works with family-owned operations to ensure freshness and authenticity.
Chef Daniel Humm, Made Nice
Located in New York City, Made Nice is a counter-service eatery stemmed from chef Daniel Humm, known for fine dining establishments, such as Eleven Madison Park and The NoMad. What makes this fast casual hotspot such a popular destination for on-the-go eaters is Humm's ability to create the same quality cuisine from his other restaurants but serve them in an easygoing (less expensive) atmosphere. Everything from the freshly-prepared salads to the perfectly-grilled chicken dishes, make for a healthy meal that doesn’t lack on flavor.
Chef Ray Garcia, B.S. Taqueria
Known for its unique Mexican dishes (especially the tacos), Chef Ray Garcia’s B.S. Taqueria in Los Angeles knows how to get the crowd talking. Catering to the busy eaters for lunch, the restaurant operates as a fast casual counter service by day and later turns into full service venue come dinner. Garcia does it right by creating approachable plates that have local ingredients while still pulling in flavors found all over the globe, creating the ideal balance of unconventional eats.