REVIEW: Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s Prime Rib & Cheddar Angus Thickburger

Carl s Jr Prime Rib  Cheddar Angus Thickburger Box

Hearing the words “prime rib” brings thoughts of a thick slice of premium beef, served medium rare with au jus. For me, those thoughts are even accompanied by memories of special occasions with family during the holidays. But thinking realistically, I set those lofty expectations aside and ventured to the Carl’s Jr. drive-thru to try its new Prime Rib & Cheddar Angus Thickburger.

Carl s Jr Prime Rib  Cheddar Angus Thickburger Clothed

At first glance, the burger looks a little on the sparse side with only the 1/3 lb. Angus beef patty peeking out of the toasted bun. The cheddar cheese sauce clings to the thin slices of prime rib on top of the burger patty with the caramelized onions hiding underneath.

Carl s Jr Prime Rib  Cheddar Angus Thickburger Alone

From the initial bite, you know that it will deliver on a strong beef flavor just as any burger topped with steak pieces should. The thin prime rib slices are tender while still providing a little extra chew to give the burger a nice texture while eating.

Carl s Jr Prime Rib  Cheddar Angus Thickburger Peek

It takes trying a piece of the prime rib on its own to appreciate the nice pepper notes that it contains. While appearing medium rare in advertising, there is no surprise that the prime rib is medium well at best. It is, however, neither dry nor tough and meets my tempered expectations of a fast food restaurant ambitiously taking on the fine cut of meat.

Carl s Jr Prime Rib  Cheddar Angus Thickburger Split

The warm cheese sauce does not have the strongest cheddar flavor but is just the right consistency, thick enough to not cause a mess while showing no sign of clumps or graininess. The predominant flavor of the whole burger is the caramelized onions, bringing with them an accompanying hint of sweetness. The onions were cooked properly, providing just the slightest crunch and offering the taste that will linger in your mouth the longest.

A notable aspect of the Prime Rib burger is just how clean it is to eat. Between the less than generous portions and the cheese sauce keeping the prime rib pieces in line, only a few small onions ever escaped the otherwise tidy burger. The days of the “if it doesn’t get all over the place, it doesn’t belong in your face” Carl’s Jr. seem to be long gone.

Overall, the burger brings a satisfying onion and beef flavor, with a gentle whisper of cheddar cheese. However, while the prime rib is juicy on its own, the burger as a whole is on the dry side. It also is missing a dynamic flavor that would make me crave another one. This might be remedied with the addition of a horseradish sauce or by improving the flavor of the cheese sauce.

Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s also offer their sliced prime rib in both a breakfast burrito and a buttermilk biscuit paired with Swiss cheese and a fried egg.

Purchased Price: $7.59
Size: Single Patty
Purchased at: Carl’s Jr.
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 740 calories (Editor’s Note: Yup, that’s the only nutrition info we could find. If someone knows where to find the rest, let us know in the comments.)

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: Carl’s Jr. Froot Loops Mini Donuts

Carl s Jr Froot Loops Mini Donuts

I love hip-hop.

And I love junk food.

Those may seem like unrelated interests, but truth be told, they have a lot more in common than you think. They both have very high highs – Travis Scott’s Astroworld and Krispy Kreme’s Reese’s Outrageous Doughnut, and very low lows – Hostess’ Cotton Candy Twinkies and the general existence of Lil Pump. They both simultaneously flourish and hurt themselves with excessive output.

Like Nabisco’s continual push to release more Oreo flavors than the year before with only a few true gems, or when E-40 released “The Block Brochure,” with nearly 60 songs and only a handful worthy of repeat listens. But the shining light of commonality between these two separate things is their ability to thrive in collaboration. Hip-hop tracks that bring together three or four of the hottest MC’s in the game are almost always bangers, and when junk food titans join forces to create a cohesive product, it isn’t always great, but at the very least it’s fun.

Welcome to the world, Carl’s Jr’s Froot Loops Mini Donuts!

First things first, the packaging is fantastic. So much of the allure of limited time junk and fast food lies in the bag or box that it comes in, and this Froot Loops-branded carton that looks like it could house mozzarella sticks or jalapeno poppers sets the stage for a wonderful fulfilling experience before the eating even begins.

Carl s Jr Froot Loops Mini Donuts 2

Opening the box is a sight and smell to behold, with five different colored donuts that mimic Froot Loops’ signature rings perfectly and carries the bold, strong scent of the cereal with absolute precision. It’s a sensory symphony of artificial fruit flavor and sugar. Some of the donuts have a thicker coating like a layer of frosting, and some have a thinner, more dissolved look like a traditional glaze.

Carl s Jr Froot Loops Mini Donuts 4

My hypothetical rule of collaborative truth continues to thrive as these donuts taste as good as they look and smell. Super soft and slightly crispy, the donuts burst with a perfect fruity citrus-forward flavor that tastes EXACTLY like the love child of Little Debbie and Toucan Sam. This revelation leaves me with some pretty haunting visuals, but it’s the absolute realest description possible.

The rings with a thicker, more visible layer of icing unsurprisingly pack a heftier taste bud punch, but the lighter glazed ones still get the point across, just a bit less convincingly. Like the actual cereal pieces, despite the glaringly different colors schemes, they all taste the same, like “froot.”

Carl s Jr Froot Loops Mini Donuts 3

In the vast land of junk and fast food collabs I can safely declare Froot Loops’ appearance at Carl’s Jr. a super hot feature. It’s such a natural and well-done pairing that I can’t believe one of the bigger companies like Dunkin’ or Krispy Kreme didn’t get to it first, but as a company known for welcoming bigger brands into their home with open arms, Carl’s Jr. just earned themselves another gold star.

(Nutrition Facts – 5 donuts – 320 calories, 15 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 360 milligrams of sodium, 44 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 24 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 5 donuts
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Perfect Froot Loops flavor packed into a soft mini donut. Great box art. Awesome vivid colors
Cons: Slight inconsistency in the glaze/coating that leaves some donuts a little less spectacular than others. $2.99 is a bit high for 5 donuts, but I saw in other markets it’s $1.99, which seems perfect

REVIEW: Carl’s Jr. Charbroiled Sliders

Carls Jr Charbroiled Sliders

Carl’s Jr. is a very fine fast-food establishment but one that very infrequently, if ever, enters into my thought processes when deciding on where to score some fast and easy burgers, mostly because the one that is closest to my house is a great place for getting accosted and stabbed in the parking lot and the inside really isn’t all that better. Let’s just say that if I was kidnapped and held hostage there, Snake Plissken would probably have to be sent in to find me.

So seeing as how I’m not ready to meet my maker as of yet, I tend to frequently miss out on their Superstar meals and All-Star deals. So when I decided to write up these new Carl’s Jr. Charbroiled Sliders, know that I not only did so taking my life (and my stomach) in my own hands, but also filled with the knowledge it could be my last meal. The things I’ll do for The Impulsive Buy.

That being said, after stuffing a few phone books down my pants, prison-style, any type of mild assault would have been absolutely worth the scars because these Charbroiled Sliders are simply to die for.

Carl s Jr Charbroiled Sliders 2

Above and beyond the culinary erectile dysfunction that is the McDonald’s tired $1 cheeseburger, Carl’s Jr’s $1 Charbroiled Slider is a true revolutionary moment in time for budgetary eaters. It featuring an overgrown slider-style burger that is practically comparable in size to anything on most value menus, but with the much-needed addition of an obviously high-quality slab of beef – charred to sweaty perfection, natch — on a thick and toasty sturdy bun, and then double-downed with pickles, onions, and American cheese.

It’s even boxed like a White Castle just to rub salt in the wound because if you’ve ever had a White Castle slider, you know it really ain’t all that. If Carl’s could appropriate a Crave Case while they’re at it, then I’d be all set for the weekend.

Carls Jr Charbroiled Sliders 3

In addition to the single Charbroiled Slider, Jr’s is also offering these minor meaty miracles in double and triple options that have to be eaten to be believed. The $1.50 Double Charbroiled Slider is more of the same, but with twice the meat and twice the cheese and twice the value of a McDouble or Double Stack, at least in girth and the self-confidence in how to use it.

Carls Jr Charbroiled Sliders 4

Finally, for a mere two bucks, we have the greasy goliath that is the Triple Charbroiled Slider, but don’t let the name fool you: this towering inferno is a home run in all respects. Tripling the meat and cheese and clogs in my arteries, you have to practically unhinge your jaw to bite into the meaty mound of vaunted value that we’ve got here.

Once again, this tempting trio is ridiculously available only for a limited time and I can see why: Carl’s has got to be taking a monetary hit on these babies, right? Either way, as long as they’re available, might as well make their financial loss your weight gain, champ, and order a bag or two. ¡Cómpralo ya!

(Nutrition Facts – (single only) – 230 calories, 100 calories from fat, 11 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 410 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of fiber, 5 grams of sugar, and 11 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.00
Size: Single
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Insanely cheap. High-quality meat. Charbroiled flavor. Surprisingly huge.
Cons: Limited-time only. No Crave Case option.

REVIEW: Hardee’s Carl’s Jr. Baby Back Rib Thickburger

Hardee s Carl s Jr Baby Back Rib Thickburger

When I was a kid, I thought Checkers’/Rally’s Wild West Bacon Cheeseburger was the alpha and omega of fast food sandwiches. With two big hunks of beef, a handful of bacon, melted cheddar, two huge fried onion rings, and a fine slatherin’ of barbecue sauce, how could it not be?

Well, much to my shock and horror, I recently found out that not only has the beloved burger of my youth gone AWOL from the menu, apparently it’s been discontinued for years and years. That makes the latest L-T-O gimmick-burger from Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr. – the all new Baby Back Rib Thickburger – the closest thing you and I will likely ever get to tasting the second semester of my eighth grade year ever again.

Hardee s Carl s Jr Baby Back Rib Thickburger 2

Except this newfangled burger, in many ways, manages to OUTDO my nostalgic recollections of the fabled fast food that once was. For starters, the boneless baby back ribs are downright superb. You get two fairly large riblets atop your patty, and not only are they flavorful and smoky, they’re also plump, juicy and extremely chewy. Not only is the meat delicious for a fast food joint, it would be pretty dang terrific for an actual barbecue restaurant. (And as it turns out, it actually is on loan from a real BBQ place, the Ohio-based Bubba’s-Q Boneless Ribs.)

Hardee s Carl s Jr Baby Back Rib Thickburger 4

The sauce (courtesy of Cattleman’s) is also exquisite, representing a nice mixture of honey barbecue and mesquite flavoring. The fried onion straws are super crispy and – thankfully – neither salty or greasy. And the pickle slices are huge, crunchy and refreshingly tart; rest assured, the vinegary flavor gels incredibly well with the barbecue sauce.

Hardee s Carl s Jr Baby Back Rib Thickburger 3

Oddly enough, the thing that holds the burger back from being a five star fast food classic is the hamburger meat itself. Granted, the charbroiled patty is plumper and thicker than most burger chain fare, but it just doesn’t seem to complement any of the other elements of the sandwich all that well. How about this for a first; a special edition hamburger that would’ve been even better WITHOUT the actual hamburger!

The buns are pretty bland, too, but at least they do a pretty good job of soaking up the barbecue sauce and pickle juice. In hindsight, this is the kind of burger that really would’ve benefitted from anything other than a brioche bun. Man, it would’ve been awesome if it came with a pretzel roll or especially a potato roll instead?

Still, I’ve got no beef with these baby backs. When it comes to fast food barbecue sammiches, you’d be hard pressed to find a better offering out there – and yes, that definitely includes a certain seasonal McDonald’s product that shall remain nameless.

(Nutrition Facts – 980 calories, 450 calories from fat, 50 grams of fat, 15 grams of saturated fat, 110 milligrams of cholesterol, 1,910 milligrams of sodium, 94 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of dietary fiber, 34 grams of sugar, and 41 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $5.59
Size: 1/4 lb burger (1\3 and 2\3 lb versions also available)
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: The ribs are succulent, chewy and smoky. The sauce is phenomenal. The onion straws and pickles definitely add a lot to the gustatory experience.
Cons: The patty itself is pretty unremarkable. The buns aren’t particularly flavorful. Trying to get through an entire review without making an “I Want My Baby Back” Austin Powers reference.