By Emily Harrington
There’s a new family-friendly fast food player in town.
Freddy’s Steakburgers & Frozen Custard is a retro-inspired fast food spot that lives (unfortunately) on North Prospect Avenue in Champaign—420 W. Town Center Blvd. The chain eateries are all over the country, including Mattoon and Springfield. Although, I can’t recall ever seeing one.
Freddy’s is bright and shiny and new. It literally glows electric from the roadway. On a Friday night, the place was crowded! However, the line moved quickly. We grabbed one of the few remaining seats. It features a pretty standard fast food menu although atypical lighter options are offered, too. They offer baked chips and applesauce as a side item! You’ll see Steakburgers in a variety of sizes, or have it “California style” (steakburger patties, cheese, full slice of onion, Freddy’s Sauce, lettuce and tomato served on a toasted bun), patty melt, grilled chicken sandwich and a veggie burger. They have all-beef hot dogs, Vienna Beef Chicago Dogs (I realize this is a highly-contested combination) with mustard, relish, onion, sport peppers, celery salt, tomato and pickle, chili cheese dogs with chili, shredded cheese and diced onions. All of these come on toasted buns.
There are a few items that make Freddy’s standout, however.
The fries. We all had fries. I had mine with cheese, and my husband had his with chili and cheese. Eek. They are shoestring style. They were all served hot and crispy. You are encouraged to dip them in their famous fry sauce (with or without jalapeno), or you can sprinkle with their custom dry seasoning. To dumb down their sauce, it tastes like a combination of mayo, ketchup, pickle juice and seasoning salt. Their seasoning is similar to seasoning salt.
The custard. During our inaugural visit, I made one mondo mistake. I ordered a chocolate shake (mini $3.49) that was ready way before our food was ready. No food. Delicious chocolate shake. Four hangry mouths. Those kids (and husband) were all over me like little vultures. Alas, the few bites I did get were delicious. It’s basically custard, though. It was that thick. My son got one of their advertised sundaes. It used ingredients to look like dirt: (crumbled cookies), gummy worms and vanilla custard (mini $3.49). We smartly ordered this when we were done with our meal. No complaints from anyone who had the custard. It was delicious. You can get sundaes or concretes. Order what they have already designed, or you can make it your own with the ton of available toppings and mix-ins.
The burgers. Think Steak ‘n Shake—thin patties with crispy edges. My husband had a cheese double ($5.09). I had a cheese single ($3.69). I am watching my waistline after all. Hence the shake and cheese fries. Make it a combo with the addition of a medium drink and fry (about $2.30 more). There are a ton of condiments you can add, too, like jalapenos, onions and sauerkraut. Tums please.
One kiddo had a grilled cheese with applesauce ($4.29). The older one had a burger with fries ($4.59). You can also get a hot dog or chicken fingers. Our oldest was quiet the entire meal. I thought he might be coming down with something. Turns out he just really liked the food. Again, you can get baked chips or applesauce with the menu items for the littles. Interestingly, there were no toys in the meals. I guess this is a good thing? Or a bad thing? I can’t figure that one out.
They advertise their 12 and younger “Cool Kids Club” on the wall. Basically, you buy a club T-shirt for $5, wear it when you visit, buy a kiddo meal AND THEN you get a free dish of custard, single cone or custard cookie. That seems like a lot of work for a “free,” $2 treat.
Take home one of their carryout treats if you are feeling really crazy! They are open Sunday through Thursday 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m. On Fridays and Saturdays, they stay open until 11 p.m.
Emily Harrington is a Chambana townie. She left her 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. job in communications so that she could be a 24/7 mom to two busy boys. Still interested in writing, Emily uses some of naptime to practice her passion and keep her mind right. Emily is a happy wife with a happy life because she fell for a fellow townie. Emily usually finds herself engulfed in balls, blue and belly laughs.