The Real Burger King

Every few years a variation of this story comes up into the blogosphere. This time Elizabeth Atkinson, writing for Eater, has just discovered the original Burger King is in Mattoon, Illinois.

The Burger King in Mattoon, Illinois, is not your typical Burger King. You won’t find Whoppers or chicken fries on the menu, and while there is a drive-up window, it won’t resemble almost any other modern drive-thru with a two-way speaker. Instead, you’ll find fresh burgers with beef straight from the meat market, a single window, and employees who run out to cars with a paper and pencil in tow when the line gets too long (a la Portillo’s, fellow Midwesterners). The biggest difference, though, is that this Burger King isn’t affiliated at all with the fast-food chain owned by the $28.65 billion Restaurant Brands International group, and it’s the one restaurant in the U.S. with a trademark that Burger King’s parent company has been unable to wrest away.

It’s one of those decent, hometown stories people love. You probably will too and when you take a scenic drive through southern Illinois, you should stop and eat at the real Burger King. It’s pretty great.

April 5, 2019


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