REVIEW: Wendy’s Barbecue Cheeseburger

Wendy s Barbecue Cheeseburger

The act of adding any type of barbecue, from the sauce to the meat, is the quickest way to screw up an otherwise decent cheeseburger. Either the sauce is too sweet, the meat bone dry, or everything is delivered to you sopping in pickle juice because they added too many damn BBQ-related toppings underneath the toasty bun.

Our girl Wendy’s, God bless her, has thankfully gotten the barbecue cheeseburger right this time.

Settling in to my neighborhood restaurant on a cold evening, unwrapping the meaty mound, a proud steam rises high like a smokehouse smokestack, gently giving off a true barbeque aroma that you don’t get with too many of these fast food concoctions. As the barbecue sauce runs wantonly down the sides, crispy fried onions try desperately to escape, but I push them back in with one hand as I lick the sauce off my other one.

Holding the single snugly (it is also available in double and triple denominations if you’re so inclined, natch) as I take a bigger first bite than I usually would, I get an immediately dream-like taste of that manufactured barbecue flavor that only Wendy’s can accomplish, with daring singularity. The sauce is the best in the fast-food biz (and it always has been) while the addition of the fried onions is a tangy treat that is immediately welcomed overkill.

Wendy s Barbecue Cheeseburger 2

With a mixture of sweet brown sugar and tart vinegar, the barbecue sauce that Wendy’s uses isn’t an additive meant to take your mind off what you’re actually eating, but instead it’s used to thoroughly enhance the flavor, letting it mix deftly with the meat and cheese and, even better, the fried onions. Sure, perhaps there was a few too many on my cheeseburger, but I’d rather take too many than not enough and at Wendy’s they do like to pile them high.

As usual, the rest of the Wendy’s Barbecue Cheeseburger – the never-frozen meat, the fresh bun and of course, American cheese — are all tops, but what really impressed me were the inclusion of these fat slices of pickles. I know it seems weird for me to point out, but I love how they weren’t soaking in juice. Instead, they were firm discs that added a true snarl to the burger, instead of being immediately discarded off to the side, as they usually are.

Wendy s Barbecue Cheeseburger 3

Wendy’s has had quite a few successes over the past couple of years and it is safe to say that we can add the tempting Barbecue Cheeseburger to the list. A slight caveat however: even though the single has around 630 calories, once again, the sodium at 1360 takes a few points off. If this is the type of thing you watch, like I do, get one, but go easy on it, will ya? Cómpralo ya!

Purchased Price: $5.49
Size: Single (1/4th pound; also available as Double and Triple)
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 630 calories, 34 grams of fat, 13 grams of saturated fat, 1.5 grams of trans fat, 95 milligrams of cholesterol, 1360 milligrams of sodium, 53 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 14 grams of sugar, and 30 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Carl’s Jr. Beyond Famous Star

Carl s Jr Beyond Famous Star

I realize it may not look like much, but the Carl’s Jr. Beyond Famous Star is probably the fast food burger of the year.

Yes, it may be only January, but God bless Carl’s Jr. for unleashing this wonderfully unknowing beef-substitute on their many meat-weary fans and, even more so, those just looking for something not only a bit healthier, but deliciously different in the new year.

Beyond Meat has been making a bit of a wave lately in fast food, making different partnerships with places like Del Taco — if you can find them — to live out its wholly utopian dream of replacing meat with a fully plant-based foodstuff. If its faux-beef patties taste this good — better even than the real thing, if you ask me — don’t ever wake me up. Allow me to forever slumber in this world.

The basic skeleton of the Carl’s Jr. burger is all here: the buns, lettuce, tomato, pickles, ketchup, secret sauce, and so on, with the option of cheese or no cheese to make it a bit more tangibly vegan. And while the smell is different than a usual slab of burger beef on the grill — think of it more like a wafting scent of Sunday morning on the busy farm, if you will — the Beyond Meat taste is quite like anything I know I’ve had, at the very least inside a Carl’s Jr.

Carl s Jr Beyond Famous Star Patty

You may expect something like this Beyond Meat to be remarkably dry, but it is actually the perfect balance between perfectly juicy and properly flambéed, the signature Carl’s Jr. mess running down the front of your shirt. Is it actually grilled? Who knows? But, like so many other things in this world, does it really matter when it tastes this good?

You’d really think that more fast food joints would offer the Beyond Meat as an option — or at least bring it to my town, won’t you Del Taco? — easing the usual vegetarian-phobics, at the very least, into a solvable Meatless Monday solution, like Paul McCartney and PETA routinely says.

I gotta say, this burger worked for me.

However, while the calorie count is not as terrible as the chain’s standard burger, the sodium is well over 1500 milligrams, giving people trying to cut that back a small pause for concern. Still, if you’re only eating one a week — that seems about fair, eh? — you should probably be fine. Just don’t substitute these for an everyday meal, usually on your lunch break, especially when detrimentally paired with fries and a Coke.

I’m thoroughly surprised with Carl’s Jr. latest endeavor for the vegetarian community — and the wannabe one — applauding its decision to go above and, yes, Beyond, with this latest call to a most tasty form of positively edible action. Cómpralo ya!

Purchased Price: $6.29
Size: N/A
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 710 calories, 40 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 1550 milligrams of sodium, 61 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 30 grams of protein.

REVIEW: KFC Spicy Famous Bowl

KFC Spicy Famous Bowl

Mamma mia! That’s a spicy… um, Famous Bowl?

While at a broad glance, a big bowl full of KFC’s famous brown gravy doesn’t look like it would or should mix with a moderate size drizzle of its new-ish Nashville Hot sauce all that well, but good God almighty if they don’t make quite the sexy pair of tongue-searing bedfellows.

The Famous Bowl has long been the much maligned trough of just about everything on the menu that, against all odds and most expectations, has managed to stay on KFC’s famed menu for quite a while now despite it being a heaping helping of a dystopic future. And, for $3 bucks, that’s really some budget-friendly mass caloric intake that most of America seems more than comfortable to ease our downfall with.

Like a few of its other, more recent menu additions, KFC is adding a straight bit of heat in the form of said Nashville Hot sauce on the tops of these famous bowls. It creates a unique source of tangy hotness that feels like the exact element these bowls have been missing for so long, freeing it and us from downing basically a big bowl of sodium-heavy mush.

KFC Spicy Famous Bowl 2

Each plastic bowl, loaded to the hilt with, of course, creamy mashed potatoes, firm sweet corn, and crispy chicken bites, as well as the comforting gravy and three shredded cheeses of varying flavors, are taken to a newer level. Not a proud level, but at the very least, a higher one. Each crunchy chicken bite now has a great kick to it, mingling the gritty pepper with the smooth capsicum, a little bit going a very long way.

It’s a nice little burn that’s totally unexpected and morbidly welcomed, the burn quickly diffusing however with the warm gravy and the warmer mashed potatoes providing a different kind of incandescence.

The heat stays for just a couple of self-torturing beats, the uncomfortability leaving when you’re ready. It’s a nice change of sweltering pace from the usual item of fast food burritos and so on. Not that there’s anything wrong with burritos, of course.

KFC Spicy Famous Bowl 3

The addition of Nashville hot sauce is such a deserving landmark, one that I honestly would like to see them try in the near future with its Georgia Gold additive as well. Really, KFC, anything you can do to make the body-polluting bowl into a more pleasant diversion of taste, here’s my three dollars, have a prototype on my desk by Monday.

And yes, the irony isn’t lost on me over the fact that the Nashville Hot sauce isn’t as great on the individual chicken bearing its name. However, though it took a few trying months, I think we have a purely Southern victory of taste and flavor that would even make the Colonel stand up in his coffin and give a postmortem salute. Cómpralo ya!

Purchased Price: $3.00
Size: N/A
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 720 calories, 34 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 2370 milligrams of sodium, 79 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 23 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Taco Bell Grande Burritos

Taco Bell Grande Burritos

It’s a new year at Taco Bell and to kick 2019 off right, here’s a pair of grande dollar menu burritos to shove greedily in your eagerly awaiting mouth!

A new spin of the usual combinations and recombinations of meat, cheese, and tortillas, the Bell is seemingly eager to win our hearts (and our stomachs) early this year with these cost-effective and comically large — or grande, if you will — additions that, of course, are for a limited time only. Introducing the Three Cheese Nacho Grande Burrito and, to lesser effect, the Chicken Enchilada Burrito, both worth a taste or two.

Three Cheese Nacho Grande Burrito

Taco Bell Grande Burritos 2

The Three Cheese Nacho is composed of the always-welcomed seasoned beef, lovingly ladled reduced-fat sour cream and those crunchy red strips, but is additionally smothered in a vaunted mixture of the three-cheese blend and the beautiful nacho cheese sauce. Plump the way a fast food burrito should be, this triple queso meat shaft is the bomb, each bite exploding in your mouth.

A particular point of interest, as usual, is the nacho cheese. Ain’t nobody, especially in the world of corporate tacos, that does the electric yellow paste any better. Here, it mixes with the mélange of sexy meat and red strips for a cost-effective fiesta of faux-Mexican delights.

Chicken Enchilada Grande Burrito

Taco Bell Grande Burritos 3

Not ringing my Bell as much, however, is the Chicken Enchilada one. I know the name sounds more than appealing, but this combination of spicy shredded chicken, tangy red sauce, stand-by cheese and, of course, sour cream, has one dastardly downfall in abundance — make that overabundance — of TB’s bland “seasoned” rice.

If I were to order it again, I’d ask them to hold the handful of rice kernels, because the sheer amount of them makes for a very dry, very flavorless competition with the delightful shredded chicken and red sauce. No enchilada I’ve ever downed — chicken or otherwise — has ever had this much rice dumped in it and, if it did, it was either on the side or in the garbage, take your pick.

But, I understand some of you like that; here you go, you can have the rest of mine. Don’t say I never gave you nothing.

Taco Bell Grande Burritos 4

As for me, I’ll just order an extra Three Cheese Nacho Grande Burrito next time, basking in the ancient rays of a cheesy sun, the queso spilling out and waterfalling down the front of my shirt, where it will be undoubtedly scooped up and devoured by an errant red strip or two. Cómpralo ya!

Purchased Price: $1.00 each
Size: N/A
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Three Cheese Nacho)
Rating: 4 out of 10 (Chicken Enchilada)
Nutrition Facts: Three Cheese Nacho – 420 calories, 18 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 910 milligrams of sodium, 50 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, and 14 grams of protein. Chicken Enchilada – 370 calories, 13 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 990 milligrams of sodium, 50 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 15 grams of protein.

QUICK REVIEW: Sonic Fritos Chili Cheese Jr. Burger

Sonic Fritos Chili Cheese Jr Burger

What is the Sonic Fritos Chili Cheese Jr. Burger?

Surely you’ve had a Sonic Jr. Burger at least once in your life, right? The Fritos Chili Cheese variation is precisely how it sounds: a small Sonic burger topped (or bottomed, I guess) with crunchy Fritos and mild chili, delicately ladled in a most un-Texas-like fashion for a moderately tasty burger.

How is it?

Growing up in the Lone Star State, just about every ballgame, birthday, and baptism had the opportunity to down a Frito pie or two. So it’s one of the rare things on this Earth that, sadly, I know all too intimately. And while yes, this is Sonic’s attempt to mimic it and call it its own, it isn’t quite there yet, at least when it comes to the whole burger thing.

Sonic Jr. burgers are always a delicious pick me up for just a couple of bites, and the Fritos and chili certainly don’t take anything away. But once you get a good look at how chintzy they are with the cheap chili con Fritos, you might ask why Sonic even bothered.

Sonic Fritos Chili Cheese Jr Burger 2

Lightly dripped on the bottom bun with a small handful of Fritos, you’d do better to just order at Sonic Jr. Burger and go across the street to the convenience store and add a quarter bag of Fritos and some free cheese from the dispenser.

Is there anything else you need to know?

Even though the Sonic Fritos Chili Cheese Jr. Burger is a slightly delicious dud, the chain is also offering, for 99 cents each, a small Fritos Chili Pie and a Fritos Chili Cheese Jr. Wrap. While they look a bit more suitable for the Frito/chili/cheese product, due to their low price point, it’s probably more than likely they’ll have about as much junk (or lack thereof) as the burger.

Conclusion:

Sonic Fritos Chili Cheese Jr Burger 3

For a $1.99, it’s mostly alright for the sparseness that you get. Sure, it’s something they’d kick you out of Texas for if the good ol’ boys in Austin ever find out, but until something with more Fritos and even more chili comes along, I guess it’ll have to do, partner.

Purchased Price: $1.99
Size: N/A
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: Not available at press time.

REVIEW: Arby’s Arbynator

Arby's Arbynator

If there’s one thing I’ve always said loudly and proudly, when it comes to fast food roast beef, Arby’s Sandwiches are the best in the business. And the horsey-drenched souls there have unleashed the massive monster that is the Arbynator.

Composed of everything in a typical Arby’s combo meal – roast beef sandwich, curly fries, and cheddar cheese sauce – along with just about every sauce available over the counter including Arby’s sauce and Horsey sauce, this mammoth pile of meat is a two-handed mankiller sent from the bleak future to our bleaker present to destroy our collective hungers, if only for one solitary day. No fate.

Available in three aggrandizing sizes – the Classic, the Double, and the Lord-have-mercy Half-Pound – I stuck with the relatively responsible Classic variation for this outing.

Arby's Arbynator 2

Even though the sesame seed bun was mostly flattened, it pretty much did look like the promotional picture, with the scads of roast beef lazily flopping out as the hot cheese dripped down its side, mixing deliciously with the other assorted sauces. The fries, however, were tucked away like a surprise.

Just as immodestly thick as the pile of roast beef is, when you hit the curly fries, the sheer amount of them on the Arbynator seem a little bigger than a handful. The twirling tubers are a welcomed treat to crunch into as you began your dank voyage into this dangerous sandwich. The fries and roast beef are a delightful combination that kids have been doing for years much to their mother’s chagrin. The mixture of tart sauces pays off nicely with lip-puckering goodness.

Arby's Arbynator 3

If the sandwich has any flaw, it’s probably that it has far too much meat for one sitting, even in its Classic portion. There’s no way an Average Joe will down the Arbynator during his lunch hour, head back to the office, and not put his head down for a long winter’s nap. It’s too darn much.

Layer after layer of roast beef and stack after stack of curly fries and glug after glug of cheese sauce might sound like a great thing on paper, but when it’s right in front of you, daring you to devour it, this is where the decisions that follow us around for the rest of our lives are made.

So, I guess if I’m saying anything, have half for lunch and eat the other half on your way home from work. Unless, of course, your job is “professional napper” in which case, have two on me. Cómpralo ya!

Purchased Price: $4.99
Size: Classic
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 560 calories, 25 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 50 milligrams of cholesterol, 1630 milligrams of sodium, 58 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 7 grams of sugar, and 25 grams of protein.