[Editor's Note: Please enjoy this special review by guest writer Robert - Not Bob. The Sonic Texas Brisket Cheeseburger is currently only available at test market locations in Texas, and he just so happens to live in one of those areas, so he graciously provided JFB with a sneak peek!]
What’s the most Texas thing you can think of? Ok, besides a dead armadillo propped up clutching a Lone Star Beer…. It’s barbeque brisket, right? Maybe…. It’s not even our official state dish, an honor reserved for chili, but BBQ is pretty high up on the Texas scale of things.
Fast food places certainly seem to think so. Every couple of years one will trot out a limited edition “Texas” burger, which invariably has BBQ sauce on it, perhaps some jalapeños, maybe they’ll throw an onion ring into it. I will admit that the Sonic Texas Brisket Cheeseburger is the first time I’ve seen a fast food place actually put BBQ brisket and a hamburger patty in the same bun.
Don’t look for information on this particular burger online – there’s almost none to be had. It appears to be either a Texas exclusive or a test-market offering, and apparently in some areas, they’re printing an edible local college sports team logo on the bun, which just seems stupid. Anyway, since the JFB staff is a long, long way from Texas, I bravely volunteered to try it out for them.
Now an admission. I’ve never eaten AT a Sonic. Oh, I’ve had food from Sonic before, but I’ve always eschewed the whole carhop thing and gone through the drive-through. Generally speaking, if I’m eating in my car, I’m in a big, big hurry, so that means grab something and go. If I’m going to be somewhere long enough to sit and eat, then I’m damn sure going to go in and use up some of their air-conditioning while I do it.
Also, for a place that wants to force you to use your car as a restaurant booth, Sonic sure has historically sold a lot of potential lap-stainers. From the Frito-pie wrap to the Tex Mex Footlong Quarter Pound Coney, their menu always seems to be laden with stuff you would not want to eat in your car. Or perhaps, not want to eat unless you were wearing one of those ponchos they give you when you see the Blue Man Group.
I’ve often wondered if Sonic isn’t partnered somehow with some company that specializes in cleaning stains out of upholstery and clothes. Considering that my target burger was topped with chopped BBQ brisket, I was expecting a bit of a mess, but I thought I’d give the whole Sonic experience a shot this time, and pulled into the drive-in stall.
The first thing I noticed when I was ordering my Brisket Cheeseburger was a sign that said “Try it with jalapeños!” So that is how I ordered it. I know you’re not supposed to modify a review burger, but hey, the suggestion was right there on the menu, so that should be allowed.
Instead of a cute carhop girl on roller skates, I was served by the squeaky-voiced, pimply teenager from the Simpsons. I still have no idea if you’re supposed to tip them or not, and he started running back to the building so fast I had to holler after him to come back and handed him a dollar. He gave me a look like I was crazy but accepted it and ran off as I made ready to turn my truck’s dashboard into a dining room table.
At first glance it didn’t look anywhere near as messy as I’d expected. Also, thankfully, instead of a stupid college team imprinted bun, it sported a handsome onion roll.
Under the hood it had a nice-sized pile of chopped BBQ brisket sitting on top of a sticky-looking slice of American cheese. Surprisingly, the brisket was not soaked in BBQ sauce.
Flipped over, you see the grievously overdone hamburger patty, the obligatory tiny diced onions, some pickles and pickled jalapeño slices, and under them, a healthy dollop of BBQ sauce.
Cross-sectioned, you can see that the patty to chopped brisket ratio is about the same.
And how did it taste? Well, the quality of the chopped BBQ brisket was actually not too bad. Not as good as you’d get at a real Texas BBQ joint, of course, but much better than I expected. It had the consistency and texture of actual chopped BBQ brisket and a decent smoky flavor.
The decision to separate the sauce from chopped brisket was a solid one, because you tasted more of the brisket that way, and it helped make the hamburger patty taste more like an extension of the BBQ and hide the fact that it was seriously overcooked. In fact, the hamburger patty really did little other than protect the chopped brisket from the sauce.
Adding jalapeños was also the right choice, since they helped mask the flavor of the pickles. Sliced red onions would have been a better addition than the diced white ones, which seemed to have zero flavor. The gooey American cheese dragged the overall quality down. They should have gone with cheddar instead. People ordering this with the stupid college team logo are also missing out, because the onion roll was one of the burger’s better features.
Would I order it again? Not likely. I live in Texas, so I know where to get a real BBQ sammich.
Sonic Texas Brisket Cheeseburger