As an LA native, every time I return to campus from break, the first thing I notice is Berkeley's lack of fast food. Sure, we might have McDonald's, Taco Bell, and Chipotle nearby, but Berkeley simply cannot compete with the long list of everyone's tried-and-true favorites. Or can it? While our original fast-food faves may not be available, here's a list of comparable alternatives to hold us over.

El Pollo Picante → Chick-fil-A 

While I love a good Deluxe Sandwich and waffle fries as much as the next person, the nearest Chick-fil-A is 16 miles away in Walnut Creek. I don't know about you, but I don't quite love it enough to lose 16 miles' worth of gas. For a closer—albeit more expensive—option, look to El Pollo Picante. You can order the crispy chicken in a sandwich, wrap, quesadilla, or on top of fries. Flavorful fried chicken, homemade mac and cheese, and seasoned fries at this local joint will make for a great replacement to your usual Chick-fil-A order.  

IB's → Jersey Mike's Subs / Subway

Within the sub-sandwich tier list, I'd consider IB's to be superior to Jersey Mike's, which is superior to Subway. Compared to the other two, IB's offers more unique combos with names and tasty flavors like "Prince of Berkeley" (honey garlic shrimp, choice of meat) and "Beastmode" (BBQ & bacon, choice of meat) with the works. This sub spot guarantees quick service, quality meats, and hot cheesesteaks fresh off the grill. 

La Note → Denny's / IHOP

While Denny's and IHOP are the perfect all-day breakfast spots (especially for pancakes!), they aren't exactly known for having particularly tasty or gourmet fare. La Note, on the other hand, is delicious and fancy with a capital F. Recognized for its French brunch spread, La Note features a unique variety of menu items, including crème fraiche pancakes with a signature swirl, cinnamon brioche soaked in orange flower batter, pâté and pickled cucumber baguettes, and an assortment of pastries. The soothing ambience and well-decorated interior of the restaurant elevate the brunch experience.

Kingpin Donuts → Krispy Kreme

Over quarantine, Krispy Kreme's warm glazed donuts have been a staple happy-food for me. With its close proximity to campus and late-night hours, Kingpin Donuts is the obvious replacement. Touted as the "best donut you have ever tried" on Snackpass, the Raised Glazed here is soft, sweet, and melts perfectly in your mouth. 

Sliver and Artichoke's → Domino's / Pizza Hut 

Pizza is a crucial, cheap food fit for almost every occasion—birthday parties, lunch with friends, or a quick nighttime snack. Classic pizzerias such as Domino's and Pizza Hut usually cover these needs. However, even without these two iconic American franchises nearby, pizza is one category that Berkeley most certainly excels in. Sliver's daily rotating pizzas are ingeniously topped, delicious, and affordable. For $3.25, you can get a slice, a sliver, and a container of Sliver Green Sauce on the side. Another option, Artichoke Basille's Pizza, or just plain "Artichoke's," is a late-night staple selling slices of crab and vodka pizza for the more adventurous eaters and basics like pepperoni and margarita. For true cheese lovers, the artichoke pizza features a creamy Alfredo sauce topped with artichoke hearts and spinach. 

Berkeley tries its best and, in many ways, succeeds in bringing a taste of our favorite "fast food" foods to locals. While prices are generally higher, the quality, taste, and creativity are as well. So, the next time you're craving some of your fast food faves, kick it up a notch with Berkeley's fantastic replacements.