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If a hot dog is this food critic's forbidden fruit, then a fast-food hamburger is the apple that doesn't fall far from the tree. And the joint that comes closest to Eden is Lil' Ole Caboose (204 S. Powerline Rd., Deerfield Beach, 954-428-1597). "Home of the Boxcar Burger," the Caboose cooks up square sandwiches like its more famous competitor, but the beef -- 100 percent USDA graded -- is an improvement over that of White Castle. Plus, while the Lil' Ole 49-cent price is hard to beat, the Caboose manages to do just that: If you buy a dozen burgers, each will run you a mere 44 cents. Wash them down with a 94-cent birch beer for a sack-and-cupful of cheaply earned heaven.
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Jen Karetnick is an award-winning dining critic, food-travel writer, and author of the books Ice Cube Tray Recipes, Mango, and The 500 Hidden Secrets of Miami.
Contact: Jen Karetnick

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