The real winners of this pandemic are drive-throughs.

I used to hate the Starbucks drive-through on Marshall and Snelling. I loathed it.

Every time I would drive by the notorious carbucks I would curse the people blocking the street and bike lane with their cars. The traffic in and out of the Starbucks is so bad that an officer actually directs traffic at the entrance/exit.

For those of you who don’t live in the city, there’s just not much room for drive throughs. Space is limited. That’s not to say there aren’t drive-throughs. There just aren’t many and they aren’t usually perched on tiny corners of the busiest intersections.

I hated the carbucks until the pandemic. Now I love carbucks.

It’s even busier now. I only go between 6:30-7:30 a.m.

The employees are goddamn saints.

In contrast, the Hardee’s on Hamline sits on a sprawling patch of concrete and there’s rarely a line. The friendly little star beacons from across the Super Target. “I’m still here,” it says.

“I’ve always been here,” it says now.

Hardee’s is actually open 24/7, an anomaly here, especially during the pandemic.

I hadn’t been to a Hardee’s since I worked in a small town in Iowa where it was the only fast food restaurant. I’ve had basically none of their menu but hear their chicken fingers and biscuits are good.

What I come here for is the hot ham and cheese.

There’s a more lunchy hot ham and swiss cheese sandwich and the Sunrise breakfast croissant sandwich with ham, cheese and egg. You can also order a ham biscuit.

A hot ham breakfast sandwich is relatively hard to find. Most of the fast food restaurants offer sausage and bacon sandwiches, but don’t have ham (except for BK).

Hardee’s slices the ham like my mom used to order from the Cub foods deli- nearly paper thin. On the Sunrise, the slices are layered onto a soft croissant with melted American cheese and omelette. Unlike most breakfast sandwiches, the egg is not circular puck, but thin sheets of cooked egg that gently fold onto themselves (they call it folded egg). You can even see some golden brown spots.

All together it’s soft, squishy, savory, and actually not too salty.

That’s it. That’s the sandwich.

Each costs around $5 – you could buy the meal deal or add a side of hashbrowns in the form of crisp potato coins. If you fill out the survey on the back of the receipt, you get a code for a BOGO sandwich.

Maybe I’ll branch out someday but for now the hot ham and cheese is the drive-through sandwich for me.