About five years ago, Hardee's had an epiphany: Do a couple of things really well and the heck with the rest of the mediocre fast-food items. They’ve been tops for red-meat-fix seekers ever since, simply on the strength of their 100 percent Angus beef, 1/3-pound “Thickburgers,” which now come in a more reasonably-sized ¼ pound version, too. No matter how many bumbling bachelor dudes are featured on the commercials, you’re just as likely to see after-church families, senior citizens holding hands and office secretaries lined up for the cooked-to-order patties stacked up with crunchy fresh garden toppings, hearty bacon, or even sautéed mushrooms and melty Swiss—and don’t forget the natural-cut fries on the side.
Then there are the biscuits, which drag many a part-time worker out of bed in the wee hours to roll out and bake up fresh and crumbly. Hardly worth mentioning the mainline varieties—you’d have to have lived in a bomb shelter for decades not to know about them—but two innovations include a strawberry biscuit that’s kind of like a jam Danish biscuit, and a pork and gravy number (yes, together at last in a handheld breakfast you can eat while you fish). And for that lone vegetable or artery-attentive holdout in the family, don’t worry—Hardees has side salads (you may want to ask for one without the cheddar), taco salads, and a grilled barbecue chicken sandwich (on, get this, a honey wheat bun) with just four grams of fat. They’re not as tempting as, say, the chili cheese fries or hand-dipped milkshakes, but you can at least plan to order that until you get inside. It’s hard to go light, but you can’t go wrong at Hardees if you’re hungry.

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