[Please enjoy this guest review from Robert – Not Bob, a valued sometimes-contributor to Junk Food Betty. Thanks, Robert!]
As I’ve discussed on this site before, Mexican Chorizo has long been absent from most American fast food menu, for a variety of (wildly speculative) reasons.
It is mostly considered a breakfast meat, and Americans already pretty much have their breakfast meat team roster filled, what with “all-star” bacon, “second string” sausage, and “that kid you pick to be on your team before you end up having to pick one of the dorks, geeks, or fatties ” ham.
Chorizo also enjoys a well-deserved reputation as a mystery meat. Even people that love the stuff will joke about the ingredients, which can contain things such as “Pork salivary glands”, “lymph nodes” and the ever-popular “fat (cheeks)”.
Chorizo’s texture, which can range from crumbly to vaguely viscous, probably also sets off a lot of warning flags to most gringos, who like their meat a little more solid.
Finally, Chorizo just sorta tastes weird. It’s has a distinctive “twang”, and is a little spicy, but not in the familiar pickled jalapeño way, or even in the becoming more familiar chipotle or sriracha way. I like it a lot, but I will admit it’s a bit of an acquired taste.
In the last few years, however, a few fast food chains have been adding it, albeit in limited capacities. Chipotle had it on their menu for about a year, but recently yanked it, reportedly to make room for queso on their menu. McDonald’s has rolled out chorizo breakfast burrito market tests several times but they have yet to add it as a permanent menu item. Some of the smaller “Mexican” chains, such as Del Taco and Taco Cabana offer it, while the big chains like Taco Bell have pretty much ignored its existence.
What I didn’t really expect is to see chorizo turn up on a fast food burger. However, Whataburger has done exactly that. Here is their description:
“We put perfectly-seasoned chorizo between two all-beef patties, topped them with two slices of Monterey Jack Cheese, grilled peppers and onions and our specially-made Creamy Chili Sauce for a bold flavor with just the right amount of spice.”
Sounds…. Interesting… and potentially messy. I’ve mixed chorizo with my beef while making hamburger patties before with tasty results, but it appears that they are layering it with the patties on this. I am glad to see that they’re opting for Monterey Jack over yucky American or boring Cheddar, and I’m always up for some grilled peppers and onions on my burger. I’m a bit skeptical about the “creamy chili sauce”, but hey, I’ll give it a shot.
First impressions are always a little rough.
I do like Whataburger more than most of the other fast food burger chains, mostly because their burgers seem a little more “old school”. However, one place they’ve long needed an update is in the bun department. Whataburger has stuck by the same mediocre bun for decades; I honestly do not recall them ever trying to jump on the artesian roll / brioche bun / ciabatta / whatever bandwagon. The standard Whataburger bun is what it is, and what it always is is “sorta smooshed”. I typically avoid the Whataburger Bun Blues by always ordering any sandwich from them on their delicious Texas Toast. But, since that’s not the default bun for the Chorizo Burger, and it was for a review, I took one for the team and went with ol’ smooshy.
Under the bun was a lackluster collection of soggy peppers and onions. I usually ask for a side of whatever sauce they’re putting on a new burger so I can try it separately, and this time I forgot. However, the “creamy chili sauce” appeared to be pretty much the same sorta-spicy, sorta-tangy sauce that’s been cropping up on everybody’s spicy burgers and sandwiches the last few years. They might call it “chipotle sauce”, they may call it “spicy mayo”, but it’s all pretty similar.
My attempts to pry the two all-beef patties apart to view the chorizo filling didn’t go so well. The gooey melted cheese had glued them together. I was finally able to pry up a corner to reveal…
….sometimes food just isn’t pretty. But hey, it’s the taste that counts, right?
Cross-sectioned, it basically looked like a Sloppy Joe with a few extra ingredients.
At this point the table and my hands were getting kind of messy, so without further reverse engineering, I gave it a try.
It turned out that actually eating it was less messy than dissecting it, mostly because, as previously mentioned, the glue-like cheese had stuck everything together. Not surprisingly, the bun was soggy, but luckily didn’t fall apart. Mostly what I tasted was the burger patties and cheese, with only a slight touch of chorizo flavor, and was more “tangy” than “twangy”, probably because the “creamy chili sauce” really dominated the flavor. The onions and peppers were lost in the mix. Overall it not only looked like a Sloppy Joe, it kinda tasted like one too.
The next morning, I overcame my disappointment enough to give Whataburger’s Chorizo Taquito a shot.
“A bold take on our breakfast classic. We filled a warm flour tortilla with freshly scrambled eggs, perfectly-seasoned, sizzling chorizo and a slice of American cheese.”
Reading the description didn’t give me much confidence. Who puts a “slice of American cheese” into a burrito? Did they not have access to shredded Cheddar?
First of all, for the better part of $3, this ain’t much of a burrito. [Ed. Note: It’s technically a taquito, but Whataburger’s definition of a taquito is insane and it’s basically a burrito.] It’s about the same size as the Chorizo Burrito McDonald’s test marketed, but they gave you two of them for $3. There was one similarity to McDonald’s burritos, though, and that was the accompanying “salsa” that was fit only for the garbage can.
Cross-sectioned, I did notice a distinct lack or the telltale red of chorizo, and a preponderance of yellow eggs. Tasting the taquito bore this out. I could have eaten the entire thing and not known it was supposed to be chorizo con huevos. It tasted more like “sprinkle of paprika and slice of American cheese” con huevos.
So, there you have it. Two more entries in the “mostly disappointing chorizo fast food” catalog. At this point, I’m not sure if the fast food industry will ever crack the enigma that is chorizo. Thank God (and the Mexicans) for taquerias!
Whataburger Chorizo Burger and Chorizo Taquito
- Score(Whataburger Chorizo Burger): 2 out of 5 fat (cheeks)
- Score (Whataburger Chorizo Taquito): 1 out of 5 stupid slices of American cheese
- Price: I’m a careless idiot and lost my receipts, but the burger (with no sides) was almost $6, and the taquito was almost $3. Pricey!
- Size: 1 burger; 1 taquito
- Purchased at: Whataburger #113
- Nutritional Quirk: Not surprisingly, the default 2-patty Chorizo Burger is a 1140 calorie, 2100mg sodium intestine bomb. Whataburger does offer it in single patty and Jr. sizes, not that that will really make much of a difference.