Gone are the days when White Castle shunned advertising and marketing, relying solely on the reputation of its onions, grease and square buns to sell meat. Gone are the days when the all-night meal mecca was limited to a few locations in a handful of Midwestern and Eastern cities. The chain, which doesn't sell franchises, has grown to 30 outlets in the St. Louis area and can be found in cities including New York to the east, Minneapolis to the north, Nashville to the south and St. Louis to the west. The belly-bombers/greaseburgers/sliders are smaller than the competition's fare, and because of that they're cheaper and carry less fat. Of course, most people don't order and inhale half-a-dozen burgers at one sitting at McDonald's or Burger King.
To avoid useless fat, check out the best of the meal of the day at WC -- breakfast, if only for the world's best affordable coffee. It's not pretentiously "gourmet," but it's good and hot and, chances are, it moves quickly. The worst thing for coffee is to sit and burn. A large java with a plain cake doughnut -- individually wrapped -- comes to a reasonable $1.11. It's just the right mix of sugar and caffeine to jerk you into alertness. While waiting for a WC employee to pour the coffee into a paper cup with a faux Starbucks logo, don't forget a napkin to wrap around it. Coffee-cup holders are nowhere to be found. But where else could you get good coffee, a government-issue doughnut and a chance to hear a customer at 8:30 a.m. in the drive-thru order chicken rings with melted "cheese"?