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.

REVIEW: Sonic Churro Shake

Sonic Churro Shake Cup

Giddy at the prospect of living within a reasonable distance of a Sonic for the first time in my life, I couldn’t wait to make up for lost time by downing the new limited edition Churro Shake. Technically it doesn’t officially debut until August 1st, but us early birds can order now using the Sonic app.

I was greeted by a generous helping of the super-dense, velvety-smooth whipped cream that I always think of as “the good stuff.” That whipped cream, in turn, was topped with a sparkling smattering of cinnamon sugar (plus, like all Sonic shakes, a cherry, though that addition didn’t seem particularly relevant to this flavor).

Sonic Churro Shake Cherry

The shake consists of vanilla ice cream mixed with cinnamon sugar and caramel, but the taste of vanilla definitely packed the strongest punch to me. That might seem disappointing for a treat whose name gives the word “churro” top billing, but honestly, I didn’t think the relative subtleness of the churro-esque elements was a bad thing. Sonic’s vanilla soft serve is so dang good that all a new flavor has to do is complement it, and this shake certainly succeeds. Sure, mine was not quite as brown as the promotional images promise, but cinnamon and caramel are both substances where a little goes a long way, so I still appreciated how they added plenty of extra richness and warmth to this decadent dessert without making it too overbearing.

Of course, another notable discrepancy between the promo image and the shake I was actually served was the namesake itself. In the promo image, the churro peeks jauntily out from the top like a crunchy feather in the shake’s cap. In my shake, the churro was ostensibly AWOL. It’s understandable how something so dense and doughy would sink straight to the bottom, but I couldn’t even see a hint of the sweet snack submerged within. It wasn’t until I caught myself thinking, “What a pleasant churro-inspired shake” mid-sip that it occurred to me that there actually was supposed to be a real churro somewhere in there that was actually intended to be a major component.

Sonic Churro Shake Digging

With some tactical spoon maneuvering, I was able to recover it. It’s a good few inches long and wasn’t the half-hearted mix-in I might have expected. It had the characteristic sweet-with-a-cinnamon-kick flavor, plus that coveted crispy exterior and softer (but not too soft, since it had just gone diving in a lake of ice cream, after all) interior. It’s just unfortunate that there wasn’t really any clear way to enjoy such a large chunk at the same time as the rest of the already-formidably-thick shake, so I had to take a break to munch it down before continuing my slurping. I also could have done with another churro piece or two in there, but hey, I’ll take it.

Sonic Churro Shake Churro Closup

This shake may not be reinventing the wheel (or the cinnamon-and-sugar-dusted snack), but it is extremely delicious. If you’re blessed by proximity to a Sonic like I now am, do yourself a favor and pick one up before it’s gone on September 25th.

Purchased Price: $5.09
Size: Medium
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 960 calories, 46 grams of fat, 29 grams of saturated fat, 560 milligrams of sodium, 120 grams of carbohydrates, 84 grams of sugar, and 12 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Sonic Frychos

Sonic Frychos 1

Am I the only person who has never gotten fries at Sonic?

The fast food chain just has way too many unique things on its menu. I never have any desire to hit an old reliable. I don’t want a burger and fries at Sonic. I want a corndog and tots. I want a chili burrito and whatever “fried vegetable” du jour it’s pumping out as a limited side dish. Sonic would have to do something big with its fries to get me to order them.

What’s that, you say? Nachos with fries instead of tortilla chips?

That does sound distinctly Sonic. I guess it’s time to try Sonic fries.

Sonic’s new “Frychos” consist of fries, creamy cheese sauce, bacon pieces, diced onions, spicy jalapenos, and a zesty “baja” sauce all piled together in a stupidly named hill of slop.

Ok, that’s a little rough, but I don’t like the name. It’s a play on its “Totchos,” which is a good name, and I don’t have any better suggestions, but when it comes to “Frychos,” I think they chos wrong.

I like to think the old Sonic guys would have made that line work, but they got replaced by random people who pale in comparison, so we’ll never know.

But I digest…

As you might expect, nachos with fries substituted for chips would be pretty hard to screw up, but Sonic did try. While I found the overall flavors mostly worked well together, there were some major flaws.

I expected the fries to be instantly soggy despite being told they were “crispy,” and I was right. They essentially just mashed together into a giant fry ball and made it difficult to eat, even with a fork.

Sonic Frychos Fork

I’m of the opinion that jalapenos enhance almost everything, but I think they completely swallowed up whatever flavor “baja sauce” is supposed to be. I loved the heat and crunch they brought, but at no point did I notice any “baja” bite. If anything, that just got blended into the cheese, which was nice despite not really being nacho flavored.

The onions didn’t need to be there. You’re already getting a little veggie crisp from the peppers, and their flavor was also lost completely.

Sonic Frychos Bacon

The bacon pieces were definitely the main attraction. Midway through, I realized that nachos without crispy chips don’t work nearly as well, but the bacon pieces were so crispy that they almost made up for it.

Overall, I’d say Frychos are ok. Not bad. They never screamed “Nachos!” They just tasted more like a decorated side of sweaty cheese fries, and unfortunately, I still don’t actually have a good gauge on the flavor and texture of a Sonic fry.

Sonic Frychos Fries

Frychos are only available through the app, so I’d recommend tinkering with the ingredients. Go light on the sauce, and ax the onions. You can even add chili if you’re feeling frisky.

If you end up grabbing these, stop there because this is a hefty, substantial meal on its own. Also, literally stop there and eat in one of the designated parking spaces because I don’t think these would survive the drive home without turning into a congealed wad of regret.

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: N/A
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: Not available on site.

REVIEW: Sonic Sour Patch Kids Slush Float

Sonic Sour Patch Kids Slush Float Whole

I had already slurped half of my Sonic Sour Patch Kids Slush Float through a straw before I started to wonder if I should be using a spoon instead, and that feeling of confusion perfectly sums up my experience with this new offering from Sonic. It can essentially be broken into three parts — the Sour Patch Kids, the slush, and the float — and they never quite work together.

The majority of this hard-to-describe dessert consists of the slush, which is watermelon-flavored and so sour that I’m glad that this isn’t a video review because the pucker it put on my face was not pretty! I was impressed with how smoothly it went down, though, appealingly liquid-y with gritty ice bits intermingled well enough to give it texture while avoiding the classic Slurpee problem of sucking out all the flavor syrup right away and then getting stranded with a plain cup of ice.

Sonic Sour Patch Kids Slush Float Spoon

The “float” part comes from the iceberg of vanilla soft serve that sits atop the slush, but I found the name a little misleading. One of the greatest pleasures of a traditional ice cream float is the way the scoops of hard ice cream melt to combine with the soda into a new substance, milky yet flavorful and somehow more than the sum of its parts. That’s what I hoped for here, but it just didn’t happen. The rich soft serve was so intimidatingly thick that not a drop could be sucked through the straw, and even as I lingered over the treat, it showed no signs of melting into something more mixable. With the unyielding ice cream trapping the slush below, I had to do some serious digging to capture both components in the same spoonful, and when I did, there was no harmonious mingling of flavors, just a cold, shockingly tart lump.

Sonic Sour Patch Kids Slush Float Lid

Of course, to complement the sourness of the slush, there are the Sour Patch Kids candy pieces themselves, but you’d be forgiven for missing them. Their signature “weird little gremlin-person” shape has been traded out for a form that looks more like Fruity Pebbles and doesn’t amount to much more than a colorful garnish. These flakes pretty much all either sat on top of the ice cream or sunk to the bottom of the slush, so they were mostly only present in my first and last sips/bites. But, to give credit where credit’s due, whenever I did encounter them, they were pleasantly chewy, never frozen stiff like I’d feared.

Sonic Sour Patch Kids Slush Float Sign

Though it had its tasty moments, my biggest problem with the Sour Patch Kids Slush Float is that it didn’t capture the versatile flavor profile so perfectly summed up by the Sour Patch Kids slogan, “First they’re sour. Then they’re sweet”. That rapid transition from intensity to relief works brilliantly in a candy where the sour coating can be sucked off to reveal the sweetness underneath, but the slush and the ice cream here never blended well enough to pull off such a trick. I kept wishing I was separately munching Sour Patch Kids candy, slurping a slushie, or licking vanilla ice cream because, like the naughty children in the Sour Patch Kids commercials, these ingredients just did not play well together.

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: Medium
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 520 calories, 11 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 200 milligrams of sodium, 106 grams of carbohydrates, 92 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Sonic Big Dill Cheeseburger and Pickle Fries

Sonic Big Dill Cheeseburger and Pickle Fries

I have no shame in admitting that I am what is known as a “pickle girlie.” There is always a minimum of two open jars in my fridge at any given moment, and I will always argue why we should get the fried pickle chip appetizer anytime we go out.

Pickles have popped up in many different forms over the years, although they never seemed to get the same trend saturation as sriracha or bacon. While they have been a common component in fast food sandwiches, they never seem to be the focus. But now, Sonic Drive-In is giving us our first pickle-centric burger this summer, the Big Dill Cheeseburger, as well as the new Pickle Fries.

Sonic Big Dill Cheeseburger Bun

The Big Dill Cheeseburger consists of a beef patty, American cheese, lettuce, crinkle-cut pickle slices, crispy pickle fries, and a dilly ranch on a brioche bun. The crispy pickle fries included in the burger are also available as a stand-alone side. I got both, but let’s start with the burger as it didn’t shine as much as the Pickle Fries.

Sonic Big Dill Cheeseburger Top

The dill pickle smell is unmistakable and loud. My poor husband’s car smelled of them for a solid day after bringing home the items. Trying the burger first, I was fairly impressed by the higher quality brioche bun. Soft and hearty, it was a nice upgrade from the standard fast food bun. The burger patty and cheese are what I’ve come to expect from Sonic. As odd as it might sound, the meat and cheese not standing out works well for this item as it allows the pickle flavors to shine. The description said the spread was a “dilly ranch,” but I’m certain it was just mayo.

Sonic Big Dill Cheeseburger Split

The regular pickles you get on other items were very present and overshadowed the pickle fries the more I tasted the sandwich. The fries didn’t add much texture. I thought they would be the star, but they were just sort of there. The more I ate it, the more I thought I should just order a cheeseburger with extra pickles the next time I want to satisfy my pickle desire. With my expectations low, I took a swig of my cranberry limeade slush to cleanse my palate before trying the stand-alone pickle fries.

Sonic Pickle Fries Closeup

I was impressed with how well Sonic had nailed the fry shape in how the pickles were cut. So often, we get alternative “fries” that don’t eat like fries, especially when it comes to the dipping part. Trying one sans the ranch they gave as a dip, I was very impressed by them. The batter was like mozzarella stick breading and tempura melded together: light and crispy, but also hearty and bready. The pickle inside managed to stay firm and not get overcooked. Dipped in ranch, they held up well and were delicious. The dill flavor was strong but not overpowering, which probably explains how they got lost in the burger.

Despite being disappointed by the Big Dill Cheeseburger, the Pickle Fries are an absolute home run for me. I do think I’d prefer to try them with a different dip next time (Sonic Signature Sauce?), but they nail that hard-to-walk line between keeping the pickle’s firm texture and crispy outside coat. Both are available for a limited time, so if you’re also a self-identified pickle person, I highly recommend trying the fries as soon as possible.

Purchased Price: $5.19 (Burger), $3.29 (Fries)
Size: Medium (Fries)
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Burger), 8 out of 10 (Fries)
Nutrition Facts: Burger – 780 calories, 51 grams of fat, 15 grams of saturated fat, 70 milligrams of cholesterol, 1860 milligrams of sodium, 52 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 10 grams of sugar, and 28 grams of protein. Fries – 420 calories, 31 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 1660 milligrams of sodium, 34 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 1 grams of sugar, 1 and grams of protein.