REVIEW: Sonic BBQ Chip Seasoned Tots

A BBQ chip is a unique flavor proposition. There’s something underneath the tangy/zesty/spicy/sweet/smoky flavor you get with a normal BBQ sauce or rub. It’s something more buttery, I think, or at least that’s the best way I can describe it. And really, I’m not explaining it well, which, for a guy who gets paid to write about food, is pretty sad. But I feel like I’m trying to describe how a rainbow sounds or a leprechaun smells — it’s just impossible.

But what I’m trying to say is that the BBQ of a BBQ chip doesn’t taste like the same BBQ of a BBQ rib.

To better explain this, I tried to get help from ChatGPT, the internet’s hottest new chatbot, and this is what it said: “I’m sorry, but as an AI language model, I cannot make subjective claims about taste or food preferences. However, I can suggest a possible way to express the idea that BBQ chips and BBQ ribs have different flavors: One possible equation could be: BBQ chips ? BBQ ribs.

The future is now, people!

With all of this in mind, the real question is, can the folks at Sonic replicate the taste of a BBQ chip in tot form?

Well, the first thing they’ve got going for them is that a tot is a kin to chips, what with both coming from the potato. And Sonic’s tots are arguably its best side. The tots in my order — as they often are — were perfectly cooked, with a pillowy, steaming hot inside and a crisp golden exterior. What was interesting and unexpected to me about the BBQ Chip Tot was that this wasn’t a dry seasoning.

Instead, the tots are tossed in a BBQ chip seasoning sauce. (But not a BBQ sauce, get it?) The sauce — which is orange-red in hue — tastes exactly like a BBQ chip, almost to a disturbing degree. It’s delightful, though, and really what we hoped for, right? For the thing to taste like the thing it was trying to taste like? It was a little sweet and a little smoky, with that maybe-buttery undertone that smelled like a freshly cracked bag of whatever your favorite BBQ chip is (and nothing like a leprechaun’s odor, which I think is an earthy-minty smell, Aqua Velva, and the sour BO of a drunk uncle). This tot understood the assignment.

My only complaint is that, unless you get good coverage from the sauce applicator, you’re gonna end up with some dry tots. And my order had a lot. In fact, I felt like only a quarter of my order was adequately covered. If I get back to Sonic before these are gone, I’ll ask them to be more liberal with their sauce gun.

Although we’re still months away from Summer, it’s never seasonally inappropriate to have some BBQ. And if you’re looking for an interesting vehicle with which to imbibe, Sonic’s got you covered.

Purchased Price: $3.39
Size: Medium
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 460 calories, 29 grams of total fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 1130 milligrams of sodium, 47 grams of total carbs, 4 grams of dietary fiber, 4 grams of total sugar, and 3 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Sonic Steak and Bacon Grilled Cheese

If there was a Year in Review that covered the food I ate last year, Sonic would easily get the “Most Visited” award. Interestingly, when I started 2022, I wouldn’t have guessed Sonic would get that top honor. Rekindling my love of its slushies and the ease of ordering through the app has made Sonic my go-to. I also like that the app offers the chance to try new items before they have a menu-wide release. When I opened the app to order a slush in December, a screen popped up advertising the new Steak and Bacon Grilled Cheese.

The sandwich is an interesting offering. Instead of a hamburger patty, the protein is grilled steak mixed with onions. It’s also topped with bacon and cheese and finished with BBQ sauce and mayo between two slices of Texas toast. It was a no-brainer that I’d order it as it reminded me of a similar favorite sandwich no longer offered at my local Sonic that had a beef patty and onion ring.

I was worried the 10-minute drive home would yield a more soggy sandwich, but the Texas toast held up well against the more moist elements of the sandwich (the mayo, BBQ sauce, and steak). Looking under the hood, I was pleasantly surprised to see larger slices of steak. Generally, in my experience, fast food “steak” tends to be small and tough. While there were some little pieces, a majority were larger slices. The grilled onion pieces mixed in got a little lost to me. Overall, the steak was pretty good for a fast food offering. It was tender, smoky, and a nice change from the usual beef patty.

The bacon added a nice salty crunch to the sandwich and worked well with the steak instead of fighting for protein dominance. The BBQ sauce had a sweetness, and the mayo added the rich creaminess I enjoyed. The cheese contributed little, but it also didn’t detract from the sandwich. All the different elements worked well together to deliver a delicious sandwich.

For an impulse buy, it ended up being a great sandwich. More than anything, it was a nice change from the norm. The steak was surprisingly good, and the sandwich held up well on the drive home. It’s a limited time offering that, if it’s still around when I get my next slush fix, I will absolutely order again. Oh, and if you want spicy, Sonic does offer a version that adds jalapenos and zesty cheese sauce.

Purchased Price: $4.99
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 830 calories, 56 grams of fat, 19 grams of saturated fat, 105 milligrams of cholesterol, 2190 milligrams of sodium, 51 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 32 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Sonic Steak Butter Bacon Cheeseburger

Sonic Steak Butter Bacon Cheeseburger

Taco Bell catches a lot of flak for taking the same three ingredients and turning them into any number of new product offerings. And this is a fair criticism, but it isn’t all that different from what most other fast food purveyors do with their LTOs. I mean, unless you’re Arby’s giving me strange and exotic meats, you’re probably just rearranging the stuff you already had in the kitchen.

And if you’re Sonic, one of your go-to schticks is taking your standard bacon cheeseburger and imbuing it with some sort of butter. In October 2019, we reviewed the Garlic Butter Bacon Burger. In March of 2021, we did their Mesquite Butter Bacon Cheeseburger. And now the fast food chain is back at it with the Steak Butter Bacon Cheeseburger. Aside from the key ingredient — “a rich and creamy butter made with steakhouse seasoning” — this thing has two slices of American cheese, bacon, grilled onions, and mayo.

Sonic Steak Butter Bacon Cheeseburger Whole

Here’s where this burger excels — it proudly and unashamedly assaults your arteries with each bite and forgoes all unnecessarily healthy pleasantries like “lettuce” and “tomato,” aka The Devil’s Burger Toppings. From the greasy, crispy, salty bacon, to the salty, creamy steakhouse butter, from the salty, creamy mayo, to the melty, salty American cheese, this burger is… well, in a word, salty.

Here’s where this burger fails — did you see how many times I used the word salty in the previous paragraph? And honestly, I may’ve been selling it short. This thing was a salt lick. And this is coming from a guy who has an incredibly unhealthy love for all things sodium. But the butter coupled with the bacon and the beef and the cheese is a lot. To be honest, doing away with one of the cheese slices might’ve been a good move; as it stands, the cheese essentially overwhelms everything else.

Additionally, I’m not sure what makes this butter “steakhouse” butter. All the butter does is melt, and you’re left with a shiny, greasy, delicious meat patty. But I didn’t notice anything distinctly “steakhouse” about it.

Sonic Steak Butter Bacon Cheeseburger Split

So, in the end, this is a fine burger. It’s cheesy and greasy and EXTREMELY salty, but sometimes that’s just what you want. It is not, however, groundbreaking or innovative. So if you’re expecting “steakhouse butter” to be something revelatory, disabuse yourself of that notion. Oh, and by the way — ask for extra napkins. The attire-decorative properties of this thing are pretty groundbreaking.

Purchased Price: $5.89
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 980 calories, 39 grams of fat, 21 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 120 milligrams of cholesterol, 1910 milligrams of sodium, 50 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 9 grams of sugar, and 39 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Sonic Fried Cookie Dough Bites à la Mode

Sonic Fried Cookie Dough Bites Everything

Wouldn’t fried cookie dough just be… a cookie?

That’s the thought I had when I heard Sonic was releasing Fried Cookie Dough à la Mode. Well, that and, “When can I get it, and how quickly can I shove it down my gullet?”

I thought a bit more, and realized I had no idea if I’ve ever had a fried chocolate chip cookie.

Do any of my favorite cookie brands swim in a vat of oil before they hit the shelves, or are they all baked? I guess it’s possible an unhealthy few might be fried? Either way, the only freshly fried cookies I’ve ever had were state fair-style Oreo, and those are great, so I was pumped when I saw Fried Cookie Dough finally pop up in the Sonic app.

How would I describe these things?

Well, let’s say you let your tray of cookies spend the last three minutes of cooking time roasting under the broiler, and they somehow came out of the oven with a crispy exterior while retaining the piping hot center. That’s Sonic Fried Cookie Dough.

Sonic Fried Cookie Dough Bites Middle

I’ve never attempted to air-fry cookies, but this is what I imagine a cookie “baked” in an air fryer might be like. They’re a little burnt and maybe a tad greasy, but they taste great.

It’s basically a balled-up version of a traditional chocolate chip cookie, but the fact the gooey chocolate and mushy dough center is encased in a fritter-like shell makes this a slightly fresh take on a cookie.

These may be the first cookies I’ve ever had that were equal parts soft and crispy while still being hot.

Sonic Fried Cookie Dough Bites Dipped

The three cookies are served with a tiny cup of vanilla soft serve, which quite frankly isn’t anything special, but it does the job. It’s not terrible or anything, but Sonic’s vanilla has always tasted like a poor knockoff of McDonald’s to me. Still, it makes for a nice pairing with the warm cookie dough bites, and the small size of the entire order is more than enough.

You wouldn’t even have to tell me where these came from, because they’re distinctly Sonic, and they’re a strong addition to the menu.

Sonic has always done a good job peppering said menu with weird little fried snacks. If you saw these with no prior knowledge, you might even think they were overdone tots, or fried cheese curds or something.

Side note: If any higher-ups at Sonic are reading this, you should add corn fritters to the menu.

Sonic Fried Cookie Dough Bites Exterior

Anyway, I’m not gonna sit here and call Fried Cookie Dough revolutionary. They didn’t reinvent the cookie, but it’s definitely a nice spin on an old classic.

When I ordered these, they were an app exclusive, but they may already be rolling out on the restaurant menus near you. If not, check out the app because I also got a free little “Wag Cup” of whipped cream for my dog. From what I can tell he rated it a 3 out of 10, but you’re here to read about cookie dough.

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 3 Bites
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 440 calories, 25 grams of fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 410 milligrams of sodium, 50 grams of total carbohydrates, 10 grams of total sugars, 1 gram of fiber, and 5 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Sonic Chophouse Cheeseburger

Sonic Chophouse Cheeseburger Whole

Thanks to Patrick Mahomes, King of Kansas City (with all due apologies to Roger Miller [and props to the eight readers who will get my archaic reference]), my city and its surrounding suburbs are now home to several Whataburger restaurants.

Now, because there isn’t a particularly close one (yet), and the lines are still at the “OMG OMG OMG, WE’VE GOT A NEW _____” stage, I still haven’t had it. But from what I can tell, it’s like a lot of these things in that people either swear by it, or they don’t think it’s anything too special. What both camps seem to do, however, is compare it to Sonic. (Maybe it’s an Oklahoma/Texas bitter rivalry thing?)

Anyhow, I’ve had Sonic all my life, and in the chain burger hierarchy, I think they’re in my top 3. (Or maybe top 5. I’d probably have to give it some deeper thought.) And while Sonic tends to knock it out of the park on their standards — the chili cheese coney, the bacon cheeseburger, the tots, and the onion rings — its LTOs are much more hit or miss.

It’s my sad duty to report that the new Chophouse Cheeseburger is in the latter camp.

Sonic Chophouse Cheeseburger Top

It features Sonic’s beef patty topped with “Chophouse aioli,” fried onion strings, and two slices of American cheese, all situated on a toasted brioche bun. Now, some collateral I came across in my research suggests that the patty is seasoned with “Montreal steak seasoning,” but other things — including the app — don’t mention this. Did I notice a different seasoning on the patty I consumed? I mean… eh? I thought I noticed something, maybe, but it’s hard to tell if I was willing myself into tasting a deviation from a standard Sonic patty or if there was actually something there. In either case, it wasn’t enough to make much of a noticeable difference.

The same is true of the “Chophouse aioli,” a lackluster, oily substance that added absolutely nothing. It barely registered, giving me no sense of what I was supposed to be experiencing. What is chophouse aioli, anyway? Fancy steak mayo? To be fair, and as evidenced by the picture, the burger technician had a very light sauce hand.

Sonic Chophouse Cheeseburger Split

What this burger had plenty of, however — too much, in fact — is cheese. Honestly, one slice would have sufficed, as the standard melty Americanness overwhelmed everything except the meat. The fried onion straws added a nice textural element and a welcome sweet component to contrast the saltiness of the proceedings. The brioche bun — which Sonic has used on multiple other burgers — was pedestrian but held up well, as it typically does.

While I appreciate Sonic’s regular efforts at giving customers something new, the Chophouse Cheeseburger doesn’t feel like it’ll create any long-lasting memories, nor will it convince any Whataburger die-hards to switch allegiances.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, maybe I’m finally ready to go sit in a drive-thru for 45 minutes to see if “spicy ketchup” is worth it.

Purchased Price: $5.49
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 980 calories, 69 grams of fat, 18 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 110 milligrams of cholesterol, 1610 milligrams of sodium, 57 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 32 grams of protein.