Carl’s Jr. Philly Cheesesteak Burger

I felt pretty guilty entering the driveway to my local Carl’s Jr. (or Carsl’s Jr., as it has affectionately come to be known) because kitty-corner to it, mere hundreds of feet away, sits my favorite mom ‘n’ pop sandwich shop, which serves the best cheesesteaks I’ve ever eaten. Given, I haven’t eaten a lot of cheesesteaks in my day, and I’m sure any Philly native would slap me across the face and start raving about Pat’s or Geno’s and how there certainly isn’t enough abuse from the staff when ordering, but all I know is that their cheesesteaks are delicious.

This is why I felt guilty as I drove past them in order to hit the Carl’s drive-thru to pick up their new Philly Cheesesteak Burger. I was eschewing my favorite, locally-owned sandwich shop in order to pick up some short-lived fast food gimmick. But that is my job, a job I don’t actually get paid for, so it had to be done.

The Philly Cheesesteak Burger is pretty self-explanatory. Carl’s Jr.’s website describes it as “Juicy steak, with sautéed green bell peppers and onions, and melted American and Swiss cheeses, all piled on top of a charbroiled beef patty and served between a seeded bun.” Using beef as a topping for beef, or really, a sandwich as a topping for a burger, should strike me as bizarre. But I’ve seen some things lately that have apparently dulled my sense of the absurd, because the Philly Cheesesteak Burger doesn’t really seem that insane. Probably unsatisfying, but not terrifying. So I wasn’t feeling very trepidatious as I grabbed my sandwichburger without incident, avoiding eye contact with the real cheesesteak place as I drove home.

The Philly Cheesesteak Burger looked pretty innocuous on the outside, and actually smelled rather tasty. I decided to open it up to see what was inside…

Oh, come on, it doesn’t look that bad, right? Let’s take a closer look!

Okay it does look that bad. But I’m no food photographer, and I’ll be honest with you, I love how disgusting those pictures look because the Philly Cheesesteak Burger was actually delicious! I know, I’m as surprised as you are. The steak was actually juicy; it was finely chopped and really tender. The peppers and onions were crunchy, which seems quite a feat to pull off, considering fast food restaurants are seemingly incapable of keeping anything from becoming a soggy mess. While the onions didn’t add much flavor, you can distinctly taste the bell peppers. The cheese is impossibly gooey and creamy.

This all reminds me of the cheesesteaks I get from that place that sits in the same parking lot. There, you can watch them make your sandwich, and it is a thing to behold: the steak, peppers, onions and cheese are all mixed together with a giant metal spatula on top of a sizzling flat griddle. Something about throwing them around and mushing them together on that griddle makes the cheese gooey and distributed throughout the sandwich in a wonderful way, and while I hate to compare them to Carl’s Jr., I think Carl sent out a spy to see how they did it, because the taste and technique are remarkably similar.

Is this how all cheesesteaks are made? Maybe so; once again, I don’t have a whole lot of experience with this type of sandwich. But the cheesesteak on top of my burger was like my mom ‘n’ pop sandwich’s sidekick: less experienced, not as polished, and with about a 30% reduction in quality. It’s not your first choice when you’re being mugged in a dark alley, but it’ll satisfy you in a pinch. And save you from the mugger? I don’t know, this analogy fell apart pretty fast.

Oh yeah, and there’s a burger in there somewhere, too. The cheesesteak kind of overwhelms it, which I am perfectly okay with, but you will taste that Carl’s charbroiled flavor at the very end. Personally, I could have done without the burger altogether, but at least it kept the bun from completely falling apart.

Carl’s Jr.’s Philly Cheesesteak Burger is delicious, which I really wasn’t expecting. Tender meat, crunchy veggies, and melty cheese all tie together in a way I didn’t think would be possible from a fast food restaurant. The burger is almost completely extraneous, but I guess Carl’s felt obligated to throw it in there, perhaps because burgers are kind of what they do, or because they felt a burger with a cheesesteak on top if it would be a proper novelty item in this exciting era of “who can make the strangest food?” Either way, I’m a fan, and I’ll keep ordering them as long as they stay on the menu.

  • Score: 4.5 out of 5 sandwiches on top of sandwiches
  • Price: $3.69
  • Size: One burger
  • Purchased at: Carl’s Jr. #828
  • Nutritional Quirks: 1,420 milligrams of sodium, but that’s hardly unusual these days.  Let’s go with vegetables that are actually crunchy, which is definitely a quirk for a fast food restaurant.

9 thoughts on “Carl’s Jr. Philly Cheesesteak Burger”

  1. http://www.yelp.com/biz/direct-from-philly-deerfield-beach

    Kelley. Yes it is “Spam”, but in this economy business owners need to do whatever they can to put their company out there. Can you blame him. I give him a pat on the back for getting with the digital age.

    Found you on yelp, too little ratings to judge. One reviewer, “George J” MIGHT be fake due to his lack of reviews, fake as in a bias friend or family and repeating what Mr.Rao said is another indication. You are right about it being little…wow it’s inside a gas station? I hope Deerfield, FL is a busy area or you may never get noticed, hope you will one day expand.

    I’m in no way saying your Philly is not good, with the picture you posted, it looks delicious. I’m 100% sure it’s better than Carl’s! I recently went to Philly’s Best here in California, not good. I doubt I know what a true Philly cheesesteak taste like, all I know is that I once had a sandwich called that at a place called Getaway Cafe near my college and that was GREAT, nothing comes close to that sandwich

  2. WOW Kelley. My clients have no objections from my little cheesesteak company. I’ll be willing to challenge you on any level with my product. Don’t judge it until you try it. Then you will have the opportunity to make an educated statement. LoL, I didn’t realize I was attacking you personally……

  3. Correction, Bob: Worthless Florida cheesesteak shack. I’d mark the comment as spam but then others wouldn’t get to see the irony and shameless, greasy pandering. And that would be the real shame.

  4. “I haven’t eaten at a fast food restaurant in almost 3 years so I can’t comment on a fast food item.”

    And yet, here you are, dispensing cheesesteak wisdom from your ivory, Philadelphian tower.

  5. I haven’t eaten at a fast food restaurant in almost 3 years so I can’t comment on a fast food item. I can tell you that I make an authentic Philly Cheesesteak in South Florida by importing the famous Amoroso roll. I also import the shaved ribeye and chicken directly from Philly. I’m not sure a fast food restaurant is my first choice for a cheesesteak.

  6. The Carl’s Philly Cheese Steak was so bad that I decided to write a letter to it.

    Dear Carl’s Philly Cheese Steak,

    You may look like a Philly Cheese Steak.
    You may be messy like a Philly Cheese Steak.
    But you sir are no Philly Cheese Steak.

    Go back into the kitchen whence you came.

    At least the Carl’s French Fries are still good.

    Item: Carl’s Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich
    Purchase Price: $3.79
    Rating: 1 out of 5
    Pros: Carl’s French Fries with the Value Meal.
    Cons: Overpriced. Messy.
    Not even close to a real Philly Cheese Steak.

  7. I just had one! it was not gross, but definitely not that good and I will not have another one unless it’s free. Swiss?!?!? it NEEDS to be provolone. I watched the “cook” microwave a single serving of the Philly topping in a microwave and scooped it onto the burger. I have no idea where the Philly part is made, but they are stored as individual portions that are probably weighed. It’s good, but not that good

  8. Wow. That does sound like a disaster. I felt a little out of my element on this review, as I’ve never had an authentic Philly cheesesteak (although friends/readers have confirmed that the griddle/tossing everything together is the standard for cheesesteak making).

    Something healthy might be a nice change. I…don’t actually know if I’ve EVER reviewed something healthy. My body is made up entirely of monosodium glutamate. :/

    PS – I also don’t weigh 300 pounds. You’ve been doing this for six years. We should probably both be examined by highly-trained scientists.

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