Food is common ground. I always say, “It’s easy to get along with people. All you have to do is avoid getting involved in any discussion pertaining to politics and religion, and simply talk about food instead.” Sounds funny, but it’s true. Everyone enjoys talking about food just as much as they enjoy actually eating it, and it has been my experience that a difference in opinion as to which restaurant has the best cheeseburger really offends no one.

So with respect to the concept of eating and getting along, let’s talk about food. To be more specific, lets talk about cheeseburgers and ice cream. Now that we’re in the full swing of spring, with just over a month left before school lets out for the summer, I think the time is right to review a couple of Evansville’s Classic Fast-Food Hamburger Joints.

The Big Top

1213 West Maryland Street – Evansville

Places like Big Top are sort of a nostalgic novelty for me. The truth is before yesterday the last time I had a Big Top Cheeseburger was somewhere around twenty years ago. I know what you’re thinking, “Man, you’re old!” Well, I suppose I am definitely getting there. Back then I used to work with a few guys near the old Sterling Brewery just off Fulton Avenue. None of us had any money, but somehow we always managed to pool enough cash together in order to grab a brown bag of Big Top cheeseburgers after we were finished for the day.

So now here I am twenty-years later walking into the Big Top with my thirteen-year old daughter, preaching to her all about the goodness of eating fast food from an old school hamburger joint fronted by a giant clown that looks like an old Las Vegas relic. It couldn’t have been a better experience. Everyone was extremely nice to us and the food was just how I remembered it…amazing – brown bag and all.

First timers, I recommend starting out with the basics. Order anything with the word cheeseburger behind it and you can’t go wrong. Regular with Cheese, Double with Cheese, Triple with Cheese. You see where I’m going with this? Also, make sure you get plenty of fries. Seriously, order a lot. As soon as the last fry is gone you’re going to want more.

Still not sure?

Here is the menu: BIG TOP MENU


102 W. Franklin Street – Evansville

Zesto is another nostalgic part of growing up for me. As a kid it was the go-to place for ice cream anytime I went shopping with my grandmother. We would almost always sit outside on one of their picnic tables and finish off a vanilla cone before calling it a day. Indeed I have fond memories of my grandma and her fierce addiction to soft serve ice cream!

So in the spirit of continuing with my nostalgic daze, I decided to make a stop off at Zesto for dessert. My daughter ordered some super gargantuan Tropical Orange ice cream cone that could only be managed two-fisted style. This wasn’t the ice cream that I remembered growing up as a kid. Now it is souped-up! I wasn’t aware that it was possible to genetically redesign or mutate ice cream, but it has apparently happened since that last time I stood in line at a Zesto. I felt somewhat overwhelmed. Not necessarily by the advanced ice cream selections mind you, but by the Big Hug aromas of more nostalgia-burgers and fries. So it goes without saying that I had to order more food. I wasn’t even hungry…it just smelled like the right thing to do.

If you go, take your family. Zesto has their famous “Family Pack” which consists of 4 Jumbo Cheeseburgers, Family Fries, Choice of Large Onion Rings or Medium Poppers for just over $10. As far as I’m concerned, that is the fast food deal of the decade.

So if you used to go to either one of these classic Evansville burger joints but you haven’t been in awhile, you should make it a point to revisit them soon. If you have never been to either of them, then you really must make it a point to give them a try.