The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

White Castle Fail

Alice + baby manatee + White Castle = Saturday night

"We should go to White Castle," I said. "Now."

It took about a split second for Veronica, Alice, and me to decide that, yes, we would celebrate Alice's last night as a resident of Brooklyn with a sack of sliders and some chicken rings on the side, among other foodstuffs that probably shouldn't be eaten at any time of the day, never mind after midnight.

Veronica and I were hanging out with Alice in her apartment the night before Alice would hop on a plane and move back to Los Angeles (sniff, sniff, SNIFF, SNIIIIFFF). How did White Castle enter the picture? While talking to Veronica about my burger blog editor status, of course:

"What do you think of White Castle's burgers?" she asked.

"I don't think I've been there in more than 15 years."

"There's a White Castle near the Graham Ave station that I meant to check out," Alice said, "but I never got around to it."

And that is how we decided: It was White Castle time.

The three of us were perfectly aware that White Castle is no gastronomic revelation of mindblowing deliciousness. Sometimes you want to eat something because you know it'll be good; sometimes you want to eat something because you're almost positive it won't be good, but you're too curious to heed the words of those who have already tried it and suffered the consequences. It's one of those things you need to experience for durian and fermented fish. (I have yet to indulge in fermented fish. Someday, someday.) White Castle fits in the latter category, but has a few other qualities that give it "must try" status: it's the oldest fast-food burger chain in the country and it's a pop culture icon. I can't think of White Castle without also thinking of Harold and Kumar. And getting stoned.

Although Veronica, Alice, and I may not have had Neil Patrick Harris by our side, we were still a threesome of AWESOMENESS. We decided that our local White Castle was probably a 24-hour establishment, and even if it weren't, our only investment would be a 15-minute walk.

As we walked down Metropolitan Avenue, we could see the bright glow of the towering White Castle sign. Score! Images of indigestion by way of late-night processed meat patties danced in our heads. Alas, despite the welcoming glow of the restaurant's fluorescent lights, the front door was locked. Only the drive-thru operated 24/7. Crap.

Well, let's just walk up then, we so naively thought*. We looked at our options on the Giant Glowing Menu and settled on some sliders and chicken rings (because nuggets are boring), but as we got closer to the box, the White Castle God (that is, the voice from the order box) boomed: "WE DON'T TAKE WALK-UP ORDERS AT THE DRIVE-THRU."

Sadness. What kind of world do we live when you can't eat at White Castle at 1 a.m.? (An ever so slightly healthier world, maybe.) We briefly considered hailing a taxi to drive us through so we could complete Alice's residence in Brooklyn with a proper bang, but that seemed just a little...too...desperate and stupid.

We walked back towards Alice's apartment feeling mildly dejected for being unable to give Alice the White Castle meal she wouldn't be able to get back in California. But it was more about the experience and hanging out than actually eating the food. Sort of. There are good reasons for not allowing people to walk up to the drive-thru, mostly these two: safety of the pedestrians (who could get run over by cars) and safety of the employees (who could get robbed by the walk up-ers).

...But still. I guess I never thought I'd be in a position where you'd have to drive a car to get food at a place in a neighborhood where most people walk and don't have cars.

And that's what I learned on my Saturday night.

(If you're wondering about the manatee, we thought it would make for a funny photo shoot to have manatee "eating" the burgers. It just wasn't meant to be.)

*If I need to clarify, I think we all had the inkling this wouldn't be allowed...but we were already there so it didn't hurt to try.


Shellee / June 1, 2009 12:34 AM

You've tried durian??!! How was it? Tasting it is definitely on my to-do list.

Aliiiiiiiice / June 1, 2009 3:24 AM

i ruv you. i ruv you so much it hurts. HURTS.


manatee + pLush toast = 4ever

p.s. i got a lot of (appreciative) stares at the airport carrying around manatee after the TSA messed w/ mah luggage and i couLdn't stuff him back in!!!

SuperChomp / June 1, 2009 5:55 AM

Awwr, sadness. Sadness that was not coated in a fine layer of burger grease, no less. *manatee pout*

kim / June 1, 2009 7:46 AM

I think if you asked the taxi driver to drive you guys through the drive-thru, he might've thought hilarious as well, but what a memorable experience. How about hitting the 24 deli? Or is there a 24 hr McDonald nearby? Or just cook together in the kitchen. That would be sweet as well. :) I love these girls nighs. I missed them...

Yas / June 1, 2009 10:30 AM

Hey, congratulations on being the editor of AHT! Sorry if these well wishes are woefully late, but it's so cool. Woot.

veronica / June 1, 2009 10:44 AM

haha, yesss someone suggested the pay-the-taxi-to-drive-us-through idea too. glad we got the chance to hang out on alice's last night, more adventures soon?!

Julie / June 1, 2009 10:46 AM

Hoo! I was glad when that Whitecastle decided to close to walk-ins after midnight! Too many drunk times wandering in and deciding that yes, I do want a bucket of cheeseburgers and cheese fries at three in the morning! Not to mention the subsequent gastrointestinal problems *ahem*

Danny / June 1, 2009 11:13 AM

That's a shame they wouldn't let you order. The safety issue is overblown because anyone who really wants to rob a white castle, they would drive up with a car, get out to rob it, and then drive away. If anything, pedestrians would do a worse job of robbing a drive-thru. Oh well. Stupid drive thrus!

Adam / June 1, 2009 11:48 AM

"We briefly considered hailing a taxi to drive us through so we could complete Alice's residence in Brooklyn with a proper bang, but that seemed just a little...too...desperate and stupid."

THAT is the ultimate fail. Not "desperate and stupid," but RESOURCEFUL AND DETERMINED.

eatyourheartout / June 1, 2009 11:53 AM

I, too, would have walked up to a drive-thru window! HAHA.

Awe... epic fail, but memorable and... funny!

Marsha Calhoun / June 1, 2009 12:03 PM

You can't walk up to a drive-through at a bank, either. Not even to give them money. Apparently we are illegitimate unless we drive an automobile. Don't ask me how I learned this - it still makes me froth at the mouth. I no longer do my banking at that institution, but I imagine they are all the same.

roboppy / June 2, 2009 1:54 AM

Shellee: To me it has an oniony and garlicky flavor and it has this custardy texture that all combines into...extreme funk that I generally don't wanna eat. :[

Alice: YOU DISPLAY UR MANATEE PROUDLY!!!!! That's mah alice.

SuperChomp: The lack of burger grease will always result in manatee pout.

Kim: I think there was a McD nearby, although I would assume another drive thru. BUT...we needed White Castle, not just any fast food. :D And yeah, taxi-ing it would've been pretty hilarious...ah well, maybe next time.

Yas: Thanks! It was a quiet handover done a while ago...basically means I spend my mornings looking for burger news, huhuhuyeah!

Julie: Oh yeah, I forgot about the drunks! Oh. Boo. :( We sober peeps need more options.

Danny: Stupid car-loving drive-thrus!

Adam: O RLY?

..okay, if this ever happens again I will taxi my way to slider bliss!

Marsha: Oh yeah, I encountered that once and then I had to go inside the bank. I thought it was funny, although I guess I only wasted a few more seconds that way. Maybe it's the "you might get run over" situation, among other things?

louanne / June 2, 2009 6:43 AM

love love durian. my bff and i once flagged a cab to take us to in n out in vegas. we could see the sign, just didn't know how to get there as it was past a highway. ;)

wonders / June 2, 2009 4:54 PM

I used to live near that white castle and everytime we walked by it, we'd gag. I think I'd be happy never to have white castle ever again -=X

roboppy / June 3, 2009 9:14 AM

louanne: In-N-Out has got to be more awesome than White Castle...sounds worth a cab ride. ;)

wonders: I think if I had White Castle just once to remind myself of what it tasted like, I might not want it again either.

rosebud / June 3, 2009 10:50 AM

You just brought back my first white castle memory. My friend who was a filmmaker student, talented, and also unfortunately an alcoholic. It's 2 in the morning and somewhere in Manhattan that was a white castle open. This was in '98. He ordered one burger. As one tiny, teeny burger. He laughed when it came. He could not stop. And when he was drunk, he sounded like a hyena... on crack. When he fell to the floor, he was asked to leave by the cashier. Not me, just him. I sat there wishing I was at a safe McDs.

yuri / June 3, 2009 3:37 PM

I live a couple blocks from that White Castle and have tried to do the same thing to see what the hell a chicken RING is. Conversation after a few drinks sort of stops being about anything more complicated than that...

If for some reason, you develop an insatiable appetite for White Castle, hit up the bodega on Graham and Conselyea. They have frozen White Castle burgers in the freezer in the way back of the store. Drunk nights have brought me back there in search of hot pockets!

Side Note: for a bodega, the freezer section is pretty awesome - organic phyllo dough!

yuri / June 3, 2009 3:45 PM

wow - i sound like an alchoholic! :)

louanne - my husband, brother and i went to that in n' out in vegas last month! my bro figured out how to get there by public bus and we walked back to the strip afterwards to burn it off, narrowly escaping death by speeding cars. completely worth the trip. it was a little pocket of sanity in that freaking crazy city.

Mae / June 3, 2009 4:47 PM

I used to live about a block away from there! On Grand Street. right down the street on Grand, there is a McDonalds, but it was not open 24 hours when I lived there (on Grand)in 1991. The White Castle is really fantastic - especially when you are craving a burger but don't want to feel guilty about eating a Big Mac. Hope you get to eat there soon!

PS Your blog is totally awesome.

roboppy / June 4, 2009 2:10 AM

rosebud: Sweet jesus, that sounds...sad. I hope your friend no longer dabbles in the alcoholism. :[

yuri: Omg, you know what we should have? WHITE CASTLE MEET UP.

I'm not joking. Kinda. Seriously wanna make this happen, but we can wait until Alice visits NYC? :)

Anyhoo, re: frozen white castle burgers = CHILDHOOD NIGHTMARES! I didn't know where to fit this into my entry, but my mom gave me those burgers a few times as a lunch (i mean..non-frozen, but yeah) and I HATED THEM. I mean, if I can remmber something I ate when I was 6, it must've been pretty bad. I just remember gross bread, gross meat, weird onions.

Granted, it may have gotten better in the last 17 years.

Mae: Thanks! I totally didn't expect this post to bring back memories from around the nabe...they're nice to hear.

kaare / June 4, 2009 2:57 PM

Huh? I didn't get it at all. Why couldn't you walk up the drive-thru? Too many pranksters ordering and running away?

roboppy / June 7, 2009 10:50 AM

Kaare: The main reasons seem to have to do with making sure the employees are safe (in case people rob em or ..are just unruly drunks who want food really late at night?) and that you don't get run over by a car if you walk up to the window. Valid things to be worried about I guessss.

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