Tag Archives: burger

Wendy’s Bacon Queso Burger and Bacon Queso Fries

Oh Wendy’s, you had me at queso.

I’m pretty sure most of my blood is queso at this point. If you make a cheese that comes in sauce form, I’m pretty sure I’ve tried it. (Herdez Queso Blanco currently reigns supreme to me.) Quotes from the offensively boring commercial for Wendy’s line of queso products include “everything’s better with queso” and “feed your queso obsession”. I felt like they were talking directly to me.

Is everything really better with queso, though?

I thank both the Spring Oreos and the Herdez queso for their sacrifice. And yes, I tried it. It was beyond gross. Why did I do that?

Bacon Queso Burger

I picked the burger over the chicken sandwich that’s available (with all the same toppings) because I felt the beef/queso combo would be more interesting. I’ve dunked chicken into cheese sauce numerous times, but usually my cow interacts with cheese in slice form.

Wendy’s describes their Bacon Queso Burger as “A quarter-pound of fresh, never frozen beef topped with warm and spicy poblano queso, three strips of Applewood smoked bacon, fire-roasted salsa, red onions, and shredded cheddar cheese, all served on a toasted red jalapeno bun.”

I’ma get right down to it before I break down the various working parts: this burger was straight-up disappointing. I was hoping to just get real messy with some queso, but it was hardly there.

As you can see, there was more salsa than queso. It was had a little bit of heat, but the flavor was very bland. There was a hint of fire-roasted tomato, but other than that, it wasn’t something I would equate with actual salsa. It was more of a tomato mush.

I couldn’t taste any heat in the “red jalapeno” bun, although I could see little red flecks in it. It acted as little more than the usual deflated fast food bun, but the fact that it was toasted seemed to add a little extra touch to the burger that an untoasted bun wouldn’t; plus, that might have helped protect it from getting extra mushy from all the salsa.

One highlight: the bacon. I haven’t eaten at Wendy’s in quite a while, but one thing they seem to consistently get correct is their Applewood smoked bacon. It was thick, it was crunchy, and it was everything that fast food bacon usually isn’t. It’s just as good as if you made it at home in your cast iron skillet.

Also crunchy were the onions, being able to resist sogginess in their raw form. Their sharp bite seemed a bit unnecessary among all these other flavors, though.

And finally, on to the thing we’re really here for: the queso. The main star of the show. And the biggest problem.

First off, there were technically two types of queso on my Bacon Queso Burger. One of them was shredded cheddar cheese, except all I could detect were a few scant pieces on my burger. No worries though, because the star of the show is the queso sauce!

Except the queso sauce totally sucked.

First of all, I expected my burger to just be exploding with cheese sauce, much like with Jack in the Box’s Hella-Peño Burger. I don’t mind the mess; I welcome it. But the sauce was quite scant and the amount of salsa easily overshadowed it.

The biggest sin, however, is that this queso sauce had no queso flavor, and no poblano flavor to boot. Tasting it solo, there might have been a teensy bit of spiciness, but other than that, nothing. This burger had less cheese flavor than a regular cheeseburger, and it had TWO different cheeses on it.

Wendy’s Bacon Queso Burger made me sad. But I thought perhaps the next item I ordered would really let the queso shine…

Bacon Queso Fries

Wendy’s description: “Our natural-cut fries seasoned with sea salt and topped with warm and spicy poblano queso, three strips of Applewood smoked bacon, and shredded cheddar cheese.”

Okay, so no salsa mucking up the works now.

Which only reinforced how offensively bland this queso sauce was.

The bacon was still crispy and delicious (although a somewhat unwieldy fry topping) and Wendy’s fries are actually quite good and have that “natural potato” taste, so those were both good points. But it was, again, the highlight ingredient that was its downfall.

I will say that, on the surface, the fries looked short on toppings, but once I mixed it all together it coated all the fries quite nicely, and there was a lot of bacon to go around. Nothing irritates me more than cheesy fries or nachos that don’t get adequate coverage.

It took me a while to really pin it down, but Wendy’s queso is basically Bechamel sauce and xantham gum. Furthermore, Wendy’s promised me not just queso, but poblano queso, and while there seemed to be little bits of…things in the sauce, the flavor just wasn’t there.

You’ve besmirched the good name of queso, Wendy’s. I’d consider this a capital crime, but you do have really good bacon. And I can’t quit that chili. Just…work on your cheese sauce game, or just stay out of it.

Wendy’s Bacon Queso Burger

  • Score: 1.5 out of 5 “everything’s better with queso”s
  • Price: $4.89
  • Size: 1 burger
  • Purchased at: Wendy’s #00000621
  • Nutritional Quirk: On the Wendy’s website, the ingredients for Poblano Queso Cheese sauce just says “CONTAINS MILK”

Bacon Queso Fries

  • Score: 2 out of 5 “feed your queso obsession”s
  • Price: $2.49
  • Size: n/a
  • Purchased at: Wendy’s #00000621
  • Nutritional Quirk: At 510 calories, these fries are just 40 calories less than the burger. That seems wrong, somehow.

Jack in the Box Bacon Insider Burger (and TWO Giveaways!)

Jack in the Box Bacon Insider Burger WrappedJack in the Box always delivers on the marketing side of things, and the Bacon Insider burger is no exception. First off, we have the commercial.

I want to hate the jingle, but for some reason I find it difficult to do so, even though I managed to memorize the entire thing and get it stuck in my head after just two viewings. Well, I guess that’s the sign of a good jingle.

What does it say about me that I’d rather have the curly fry tree than the chopper out back?

What we really need to focus on here, though, is the bork. In case you haven’t figured it out, it’s beef and pork, represented in the commercial by pigs with cow-like markings on them.

This creative take on the “stuffed burger” concept seems cute and innocent in the commercial, but I sense some dark, Island of Dr. Moreau-esque undertones. This is punctuated by the bork at the very end of the commercial that proclaims, “Moink?”

It’s the desperate cry of an abomination, confusion showing in the question mark as it struggles to understand its place in nature when, in reality, it has none.

I’m just fucking with you. I instantly fell in love with “Moink?” and have said it like, five times today. It’s a delightful portmanteau.

If you want a real bonus treat, watch the Spanish-language version of the commercial, which contains mariachis wearing Mexican pointy boots, a thing I did not know existed until now. The boots, not mariachis. Credit to sometime guest-reviewer Robert for finding this gem.

Also true to form, Jack in the Box has created a special promo site for the Bacon Insider, including a tour of Jack’s farm and a game where you control a bork in…virtual space? that shoots bacon at regular hamburgers and turns them into Bacon Insiders. If this weren’t Jack in the Box, I’d consider that a bizarre sentence.

Jack in the Box Bacon Insider Burger

Here’s Jack’s long-winded description of the Bacon Insider: “Jack’s newest creation is a bacon triple threat. A juicy beef patty mixed with savory pieces of bacon. This new bacon and beef patty is sandwiched between hickory smoked bacon and topped with creamy bacon mayo, lettuce, tomato, and American cheese. All served on our new soft warm brioche bun. This burger is sure to make you want to ‘bring home the bacon.’”

Can we pretend they never used the phrase “bring home the bacon” and just stick with “moink” and “bork”? I’m sure the Swedish Chef would agree. Bork bork bork.

Jack in the Box Bacon Insider Burger Open Top

The Bacon Insider, deconstructed. The lettuce was a little sad, but the tomatoes were juicy, and look at that lovely bacon configuration. Instead of letting the slices just flop out the sides, they’ve been neatly arranged to fit in the burger. And plenty of it, too!

Jack in the Box Bacon Insider Burger Open Bottom

But wait, there’s more! And by that I mean more bacon and bacon mayo underneath the bork patty. Double bacon layer. That’s pretty awesome.

Jack in the Box Bacon Insider Burger Bacon Mayo

Speaking of the bacon mayo, I tasted some on its own and it was tangy (because it’s mayo, duh) but only vaguely bacon-y. As you can see, there were little speckles in it that looked bacon-ish, but it wasn’t like there was some JitB employee hand-crumbling pieces of bacon into the condiment.

Jack in the Box Bacon Insider Burger Bork Patty

Now we come to the bork patty. There were definitely some visible bacon pieces in the burger, and when tasted on its own, the bacon was impressively noticeable. In my experience, most “stuffed” burgers don’t actually gain any flavor from whatever they’re stuffed with, so this is a bit of an accomplishment.

Now that we’ve deconstructed the Bacon Insider, the real question is, how did it taste altogether?

I found it to be what is probably the most baconiest fast food burger I’ve ever had. The bacon strips were what I would call mid-level crispy, and the configuration of the strips, in addition to having them on top of and beneath the burger, guaranteed that I got bacon in each and every bite. How often does that happen with a bacon cheeseburger?

Looking at the big picture, it seems like it’s the proliferation of bacon strips that did all the heavy lifting on the Bacon Insider. Maybe the bork patty and the bacon mayo added a little extra bacon support, but I could also argue that their flavor disappeared under all that bacon.

The bottom line, however, is that the Jack in the Box Bacon Insider burger really does deliver the bacon goodness. (I almost made a “bring home the bacon” joke there, and then realized what I was doing and quietly backspaced. Oh, wait, I probably wasn’t supposed to tell you that.) I credit the amount and configuration of the bacon strips, but I do wish the bacon mayo and the bork patty had been able to shine a little more. However, it made for a great marketing campaign, and I learned about Mexican pointy boots!

At the end of the day, all I can say is…moink?

[Disclaimer: This Bacon Insider burger was purchased with gift cards provided by Jack in the Box. This is no way compromises the integrity of this review.]

See below for giveaway rules!


Jack in the Box Bacon Insider Burger

  • Score: 4 out of 5 Bork bork, bork bork bork bork.
  • Price: $4.99
  • Size: 1 burger
  • Purchased at: Jack in the Box #106
  • Nutritional Quirks: 68% of your daily recommended amount of total fat. But with that much bacon, can you really find that surprising?

Thanks to Jack in the Box, I have TWO freebies to give away today! One lucky person will receive two $10 Jack Ca$h Cards, and another will receive one $10 Jack Ca$h Card and a special “What Does the Bork Say” (size large) t-shirt!

Just leave a comment on this post – the two winners will be chosen at random and announced Tuesday, February 18, 2014. Make sure to include your email address – this information is not public but I will need it to contact the winners!

McDonald’s Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder

McDonald's Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder SideDear readers, I am here to tell you that you have been tricked. Bamboozled. Flim-flammed. By McDonald’s, of all places. The most universally trusted fast food restaurant in the world.

Okay, that’s probably not true. Neither is the idea that you’ve been tricked, per se. The truth is, McDonald’s has, rather quietly, removed the Angus Third Pounders from their menu and replaced them with three new Quarter Pounders.

The old Angus Third Pounders were Bacon and Cheese, Deluxe, Mushroom and Swiss, and, later on, the Chipotle BBQ Bacon and Cheddar Bacon Onion.

A lazy amount of Internet research seems to indicate that the Angus Third Pounders weren’t doing that well, possibly due to their high price – $3.99 – in relation to the rest of their menu and the current trend towards value menus.

This idea is directly contradicted by the fact that the new Quarter Pounders are the exact same price, so I’m just going with “nobody seemed to like the Angus Third Pounders so we’re trying something else”.

The new Quarter Pounders are Bacon and Cheese, Deluxe and Bacon Habanero Ranch. Guess which one I chose to review?

…Oh, right, you don’t have to guess. It’s in the review title. Gosh darn spoilers.

The Bacon and Cheese and Deluxe varieties are just as boring as you can imagine they are, containing ingredients like…bacon, and…cheese. I’m not even sure what I’m supposed to be impressed with in the Deluxe – it’s got mayo, and lettuce, and tomatoes, and zzzzzzzzzzzz.

So I find myself with the Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder, which, in stark contrast to the other two, actually sounds interesting. “A quarter pound* of 100% beef topped by smooth white cheddar,** thick-cut Applewood smoked bacon, tomato and leaf lettuce, and a spicy-cool habanero ranch sauce, all on a toasted, bakery-style bun.”

If you’re curious about the asterisks, the first lets you know that’s the weight before cooking and the second informs you that the cheese is pasteurized process. There, I’ve done my boring due diligence.

At this point I was about to launch into the part where I actually eat the fucking burger, but I stumbled upon something on McDonald’s website that I just could not, in good conscience, ignore.

McDonald's Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder Website

In recent times I’ve made a point of not poaching pictures, because I’m pretty sure there’s copyright issues involved. But a picture is worth a thousand words, which I’ll probably end up writing anyways, and I just couldn’t help myself on this one. So up it goes until I get a cease and desist email from Ronald.

Look at it. Love it for its ridiculousness. HABANEROS SLAPPING YOUR TONGUE! ZING! Bacon shaming!

The tongue-slapping is my obvious favorite, but I’m also very fond of, “I see you looking at me?” With some different punctuation, it could be construed as an amusing threat from the aggressive habanero pepper. But phrased as a question, it a.) makes no goddamn sense and b.) makes the habanero sound insecure.

I’m lovin’ it. (Please kill me.)

Okay. Burger time.

McDonald's Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder

First off, I took pictures and ate my Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder before I did all that researchy stuff, which led to me being surprised by the lack of habanero peppers on my burger. I thought it was bacon, habanero and ranch, not bacon and habanero ranch.

I was a little disappointed, but that’s okay. As far as I can remember, this is the first time a major fast food chain has gone habanero, in any form.

In case you didn’t know, habaneros are pretty serious business. To give you a point of comparison, jalapeño peppers rate between 3,500–8,000 units on the Scoville scale, while habaneros are between 100,000–350,000 units. Even if you don’t know what the Scoville scale is, and you should, you can see the impressive disparity in those numbers.

What I’m trying to say here is that habaneros are hot.

McDonald's Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder Open

Let’s get the boring parts out of the way. My lettuce sucked. It was sad and limp and looked to be on the precipice of being tossed in the garbage. My tomato was also lame and added nothing to the burger. I could have easily done without it. But, these are the vagaries of fast food.

My “bakery-style bun” was a goddamn McDonald’s hamburger bun. I had no idea it was toasted. It was neither good nor bad; it was just a necessary delivery vehicle for the contents inside.

My asterisk asterisk pasteurized process white cheddar was not melted. That seems like a pretty basic oversight. It didn’t really matter though, because it really didn’t add much to the Quarter Pounder. Perhaps if it had been melted, it would have added a nice, creamy touch. The world will never know.

McDonald's Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder Half

Getting to the good stuff, the thick-cut Applewood smoked bacon was indeed smoky, crunchy and flavorful, words I’d never expect to write about McDonald’s bacon but am happy to do. That crunchiness added a lot of texture to the burger, picking up the slack of my sad-ass lettuce.

McDonald's Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder Top Bun

Now to the star of the show – the habanero ranch. They weren’t stingy with it, for which I was thankful. I could see little peppery flecks in it and it was appropriately bright, which made it look threatening, like a poisonous neon-colored frog in a rainforest.

McDonald's Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder Sauce

You know how fast food chains are constantly claiming that such-and-such menu offering is so spicy it will burn your taste buds off and send you screaming to the emergency room? Yeah, that never actually happens. In fact, you’re lucky if you get anything spicy at all.

This is not the case with the Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder! The habanero ranch was creamy and spicy, turning this burger from mediocre to something I honestly enjoyed.

Did it have the burn power of an actual habanero pepper? Well, no. It made the burger nice and spicy but not so much that I was rushing for a glass of milk.

You could call it sad that it takes an incredibly spicy pepper just to make a burger “noticeably spicy”, but this is the world we live in, so I was happy just to get some heat out of the Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder.

There were some lowlights – lackluster toppings, unmelted cheese – but these are location/time-related problems. The surprisingly crunchy and flavorful bacon combined with the tasty, plentiful and spicy habanero ranch dressing really turned this burger around. Was my tongue, indeed, slapped? I’d say yes, but I’d rate it as more of a “snap out of your hysteria” slap and less of a “you just called me the c-word” slap.

I am, indeed, looking at you, Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder. And you’re lookin’ pretty good. But you need to work on accessorizing.

McDonald’s Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder

  • Score: 4 out of 5 tongue-slaps from insecure habaneros
  • Price: $3.99
  • Size: 1 burger
  • Purchased at: McDonald’s #23767
  • Nutritional Quirks: “Contains less than 1% habanero pepper” – well, that’s a bummer. On the plus side, the “dried cayenne red pepper sauce” that is listed more prominently seems to be doing a good job. I guess “Bacon Dried Cayenne Red Pepper Sauce Ranch Quarter Pounder” doesn’t have quite the same ring.

McDonald’s UK Tastes of America Week 3: The Arizona Nacho Grande

McDonald's UK Tastes of America Logo and Arizona Nacho Grande Logo Box[Kelley’s Note: We are joined again by Kirsten for this review of the uniquely UK phenomenon that is McDonald’s Tastes of America. Check out her review of Week 2’s burger here. As with before, I will be adding some tidbits from an American’s point of view. Enjoy!]

So, here we are at the third week of McDonald’s UK’s Tastes Of America. This week is the Arizona Nacho Grande. Big nachos? I’ve had a few. Huh. Actually, I’ve not had ANY in Arizona. Maybe next time, eh?

Time to fess up – I don’t really know Spanish. If we were talking coffee language, grande would mean medium, but through the generic way we all absorb media and television, I can make a good guess at what they’re getting at.

There is a place in AZ called Casa Grande, I know that. Maybe they thought it was a cute play on it- you know, pick somewhere off a map? No? No? Okay, we’ll stick with the Spanish thing. Or well, Mexican thing I guess.

[Kelley’s Note: Poor Kirsten. Having lived in the southwest (or South-West) all my life, my mind baffles at the idea that someone would not know that grande means “large” in Spanish. Then again, I had to have Kirsten explain the definition of “quid” to me just a few days ago, so I guess we’re even.]

AZ is South-West. In the UK, South-West is Cornwall, where the Cornish Pasty comes from. It was invented for miners. Why is there no pasty in Minecraft? I had a pasty in Phoenix, AZ once. That was pretty unexpected. All the way over there, 3 billion miles, just to sit in a desert eating foods from my homeland? Bah! An Arizonan sure wouldn’t have that eating the Arizona Nacho Grande. Now I regret not being in Cornwall to eat one, that’d show them. That’d show you all, HAH!


Had I not holidayed in Arizona the last two years, I’d have been hard-pressed to guess at the cuisine of the State. As is, ‘TexMex’ is insulting because AZ is not Texas, but still conjures up that shared love of meat, spicy food, and Mexican flavours. Arizona was where I first discovered pulled pork. I haven’t been the same since. I came back 2 months later hoping for more (and also to attend a wedding [the wedding of the pulled pork dealer]).

Had my first taste of Arizona been this burger, I’d have no idea what I could even have begun to expect.

McDonald's UK Tastes of America Week 3 The Arizona Nacho Grande

From McDonald’s: “Treat yourself to the taste of Arizona. 100% beef patty topped with nacho-style sauce, shredded lettuce, pepperoni, crunchy nacho chips and cheese with peppers, all in a sesame topped bun.”

[Kelley’s Note: I feel like I can chime in here with some authority, having lived in Arizona for about ten years now. I find this burger most adorable. “Nacho-style sauce” fills me with doubts. I guess the chips make sense. But you know what I like most on my nachos? Pepperoni. Nothing says Arizona and nachos like pepperoni. Forget jalapeños, or poblano chiles…pepperoni is pure Arizona.]

As I predicted, we’re talking about the same dimensions and ratio of patty to bun as the Chicago Supreme. Big patties. The Nacho Grande just has a plain old, no-nonsense sesame topping on the split top. No messing around there. It keeps its fancy secrets on the inside, keeping things closer to its chest.

McDonald's UK Tastes of America Week 3 The Arizona Nacho Grande Top Bun

Looking inside, there was no way to differentiate between the ‘nacho sauce’ and the peppered cheese. And that’s the bell pepper kind, not the cracked black stuff. Just a mountain of cheesy goo. I dug in.

McDonald's UK Tastes of America Week 3 The Arizona Nacho Grande Half

I can’t imagine anything finer will ever be created at McDonald’s. Taking a big bite, you get that soft, perfect beef patty, chewy tangy pepperoni, the crunch of the nacho chips, the gooey cheese and the subtly palate-refreshing shredded lettuce. It’s a mouthful of sheer flavour and texture.

McDonald's UK Tastes of America Week 3 The Arizona Nacho Grande Inside

The ingredients on their own are a little ordinary (I would consider the nacho tasted stale outside of the ensemble) but in combination they have created something that means I will leave a tiny offering to the junk food deities in hopes that it returns again next year.

McDonald's UK Tastes of America Week 3 The Arizona Nacho Grande Inside Close

I ate one on Thursday on the way to work. I was so hungry that I didn’t pause to study it enough, so I ate one the next day for breakfast. Just for you. It was magnificent.

The Nacho Grande is a thing of wonder. I will say here and now, I don’t expect the remaining TOA burgers to live up to its glory and majesty. It will live on, past this week, in my heart forever (probably literally, lining my arteries).

[Kelley’s Note: As with the Chicago burger, Arizona gets its own little wonderful gif-filled tribute on McDonald’s UK website. I’ll take it from here.]

I’ll admit, there are a lot of preconceptions about the Grand Canyon State that I can understand. Heck, when I moved here ten years ago from sunny Southern California, I was amazed that people actually had lawns. I thought it was all rocks and cacti. And, admittedly, there are a lot of cacti. And rocks. And kokopelli.

If you go off of crime dramas, movies, and pretty much any media, Arizona is where every serial killer, rapist, and kidnapper runs to to hide from the police. Just a whooooooole state full of reprobates.

I had a friend from Australia who literally thought everyone in Arizona rode around on horses carrying lassos and guns. McDonald’s UK’s website is not too far removed from that.

We start with the music, which is some serious honky-tonk banjo playin’ business accompanied by a one-dude-eight-gifs wearing a cowboy hat and playing a guitar, which is funny because I do not hear any guitar in the music. I swear, just hearing it makes me want to shout “YEE-HAW!” and say “y’all” about twenty times.

The background image is a neverending stretch of desolate highway with nothing but dirt surrounding it, which is actually pretty accurate if you’ve ever driven anywhere outside of the Valley. There’s also some red rocks, which is fair, because we do have those. So, okay, two points in favor of McDonald’s UK.

…And now I’m going to immediately take those two points away for the two big-rig flatbeds zooming in a loop on the neverending highway. Really? A whole state full of fairly iconic crap, and you pick trucks. What is that trying to convey, even? “Arizona – so damn full of big trucks!” That’s just weird and mildly insulting.

Next to pop up is a cactus (fair) and then a row of Route 66 signs.

Now I’m just getting nitpicky. Route 66 runs through Arizona. It also runs through, like, seven other states, and stretches over 2,000 miles of the US. We’ve now brought the highway-related images for the Arizona burger up to three. Is that how the UK views Arizona? “Just driving through.”

Actually, I think that’s how most Americans view this state, too. Man, Arizona sucks.

All is redeemed at the last second, however, with what might be one of my favorite gifs ever created. Two giant bald eagle heads suddenly appear, bobbing their heads in a loop that I could probably watch forever. Words do it no justice. It’s so random, and the eagles look so serious, and…it’s just great. Go there.

I love you, bald eagle gifs. I love you so much.

Okay, back to Kirsten. Let’s wrap this thing up!

McDonald’s UK Tastes Of America: Arizona Nacho Grande

  • Score: 5 out of 5 head bangin’, wing flappin’, boot scootin’ eagles.
  • Price: £3.49
  • Size: Just the burger, ma’am.
  • Purchased at: McDonald’s – Leeds 2
  • Nutritional Quirks: Plain on the outside, party on the inside. Both kindsa cheese, sliced and molten. Completely irrelevant to its namesake state.

McDonald’s UK Tastes of America Week 2: The Chicago Supreme and Crisscut Fries

McDonald's UK Tastes of America Logo and Chicago Supreme Logo Box[Kelley’s Note: Boy do I wish I lived in the UK right now. Fortunately, guest reviewer Kirsten (of Pizza Hut Hot Dog Stuffed Crust Pizza fame) does, and she has done me the favor of reviewing one of the McDonald’s Tastes of America burgers. We’ve done a little bit of collaborating, since she’s tasting America and I’m living here, so expect me to chime in every once in a while for some insight from the States.]

Every year in the UK, or at least for as long as I can remember paying attention, McDonald’s UK has run a summer promotion called TASTES OF AMERICA, whereby 5 State-‘inspired’ burgers are presented at a rate of one per week for 5 weeks, offering us Brits the chance to glimpse at the wonders of America in burger form. Sadly, I missed the first burger ‘Louisiana BBQ’ by a mere DAY, and grovel for your forgiveness. Instead, I present WEEK 2: CHICAGO.

When I think Chicago food, I think of pizza. That’s it, really. I got briefly confused about cheese curds, but that’s Wisconsin, apparently. Also, I am told that the Chicago Dog is the more prominent food association with Chicago. Clue’s in the name, I guess. I blame Chicago Town Pizzas. Whaddaya gonna do?

Anyway, a Chicago Dog is not at all what I expected. I dig the big bit of pickle in it (we don’t do pickle enough over here) but really it just seems like a Classic Hamburger set up, with a hot dog instead. I am not convinced at all. That is also completely nothing like the T.O.A: Chicago burger.

Here is McDonald’s UK’s description of The Chicago Supreme: “Experience the supreme taste of the Windy City. 100% beef patty, shredded lettuce, bacon, onions, cheese slices, spicy tomato salsa and cool mayo, all in a chilli, chive and sesame topped bun.”

[Kelley’s Note: I actually had to explain what a Chicago Dog is to Kirsten. She had never heard of such a thing. I also explained to her that, even in the States, if you’re going to make something “quintessentially Chicago”, you’re probably going to try to emulate a Chicago Dog. (If you don’t know what one consists of, read the first paragraph of this. It sums it up pretty perfectly.)

I was very amused by the UK’s version of “Chicago”. Not to make too much fun, but…salsa? Oh well, all they’re missing is the pickle. And the mustard. And the…okay, it’s pretty much missing everything. I’d be curious to see what the citizens of Chicago have to say about this burger representing their city.

Okay, back to Kirsten, who actually ate the burger.]

McDonald's UK Tastes of America Week 2 The Chicago Supreme

The burger is a big burger. I’d say it’s about 1.5 times the length of a Big Mac. It’s an ovoid. The bun is also a fancy split-top bun, sprinkled with the chilli, chive and sesame. The bun itself was light and soft, though I found it hard to tell if the chilli and chive topping added anything because of the spicy salsa heat.

McDonald's UK Tastes of America Week 2 The Chicago Supreme Inside

The mayo and onion were plentiful. The patty meat was perfect, beefy and flavoursomely charred, just the right side of crumbly, not tough or chewy at all. The sheer amount of sauces in combination gave good flavour but really just meant the patty was trying to escape the buns. My patty had too much lubrication. Now I see why they didn’t spread the load by adding any to the lower bun. Does anywhere do that? I think I’ve found salad there before.

McDonald's UK Tastes of America Week 2 The Chicago Supreme Close-Up

There was a good amount of bacon, but at first I wondered if I’d imagined there was meant to be any – there was no bacon in sight. It only emerged after I’d bitten in, and was indeed pinned within, smothered by the heavy quantity of cheese slices and disguised by the nonchalant shredded lettuce, an accomplice to bacon obfuscation. It was the Thomas Crown Affair of burger bacon.

McDonald's UK Tastes of America Week 2 The Chicago Supreme Half

There was a lot of mayo. I’m not a big fan of mayo (in or out of burgers) but it didn’t ruin it for me, and just meant it was like an oddly creamy but tasty salsa, like a spicy prawn cocktail sauce. Y’all do that too right? With the ketchup and mayo, or ketchup and salad cream and then you get Marie Rose sauce or whatever? I like it with brandy in. There was no brandy in this burger. Good job, I don’t think that’s what it needed.

[Kelley’s Note: I had to look up “Marie Rose sauce” – it is indeed a synonym of seafood or cocktail sauce, but, at least to me, sounds more like Thousand Island dressing. My definition of cocktail sauce contains stuff like horseradish and Worcestershire.]

The salsa was great, I’d like to see that back in another burger, maybe as a dip.

McDonald's Tastes of America Crisscut Fries Box

A dip, hey! That would have been real good with the special edition TOA: Crisscut fries I got too! I didn’t really like them. They were that kind of mashed and reformed potato shape and reminded me of potato waffles, a thing I have only had once in my life and avoided ever since. I still only eat hash browns when I’m desperately hungry.

McDonald's Tastes of America Crisscut Fries

They came with a sour cream and chive packet of dip which I gave a miss as I’m not eating any sour cream that doesn’t come from a fridge. I want to say the Crisscuts taste reminded me of Alphabites ((does that translate?)) but had a slightly spiced coating, which according to the website was onion powder and yeast extract. I won’t be ordering them again.

[Kelley’s Note: This did not, in fact, translate for me. I was pretty sure Kirsten wasn’t talking about the cereal. Luckily I found this, so now I know she was talking about a letter-shaped frozen potato product.]

In Hull, fries come with a coating of ‘chip spice’ (because we call fries ‘chips’, and chips ‘crisps’) which is more or less the same thing but with paprika and salt thrown in and I do not like that either. I did not know this when I first ordered fries in Hull, and have been scarred ever since. Consider this a PSA for if you ever find yourself there.

The TOA: Chicago burger was tasty but not as gourmet as I think it wanted to be. I think the oversized patty will continue to be an issue in the upcoming weeks, but I can’t fault them for being generous; it was good meat and cooked well.

Really, the TOA: Chicago was just a big ol’ Bacon Cheeseburger in a fancy bun, and whilst it was a good enough eat, I won’t be missing it from the menu a month down the line.

I am totally not ordering the TOA:Crisscuts again though, even though I think regular McD’s fries will serve to make the burger look even more enormous. One point to the Crisscuts – they are proportionally sized for the TOA burgers.

[Kelley’s Note: Kirsten turned me on to McDonald’s UK’s Tastes of America website. We both agreed that it was an amazing feat of marketing. She let me take the reins on this one, so you’ll be hearing from me from here until the roundup at the end of the review.]

Oh, McDonald’s UK Tastes of America. You’ve already given us so much. But once Kirsten showed me your website, I felt I had been given a special gift from the marketing gods.

While I’d love to break down each and every “Tastes” page, that would probably take up the length of an entire review, and we’re talkin’ about Chicago here, so let’s focus on that.

First off, every Tastes of America “tribute” page is an amazing feat of music and bizarre gifs. It’s like someone with a current knowledge of graphic artistry was instructed to make them look like a 1996 Geocities website. It is strange and mesmerizing at the same time.

I will give the UK this: Chicago is the longest-running American musical in the history of Broadway. Looking at the States from the outside in, this would be a pretty easy choice to encapsulate the spirit of the city. However, the Tastes of America takes it a little too far. The music is va-va-voom, the background is reminiscent of a Broadway marquee, and there’s attractive ladies wearing sexy tuxedos dancing around with canes.

Correction: one sexy lady, multiplied by eight. GIFS!

There are also two mirror-image limos thrusting in and out of the background in a way that makes me mildly uncomfortable.

The icing on the cake for me is the introduction of a jumble of red-clad basketball player gifs, obviously meant to represent the Chicago Bulls. I have some sad news for you, Britain: the iconic era of Michael Jordan and the Bulls’ dominance in the NBA ended in the 1990s. I’m sorry.

So what crazy gifs would I use to represent Chicago? Well, I’ve never even been to the Windy City, but here are some of my suggestions:

Lots of Tommy guns shooting with the sound of automatic fire as your music

One guy in a three-piece pinstripe suit repeated eight times making threatening gestures

A corrupt government official repeatedly signing a check and handing it to a shady character

Crates of bootleg alcohol dancing around


It’s obvious I’m also not intimately familiar with Chicago, but I still feel mine is a closer representation of the city than McDonald’s UK’s. Regardless, all of the Tastes of America pages are priceless, and I highly encourage you click on the link I posted above.

Okay, enough of my blathering. Here’s Kirsten’s round-up. A big thanks to her for the guest review!

McDonald’s UK Tastes Of America Chicago Supreme

  • Score: 4 out of 5 dancing gifs
  • Price: £4.89 plus £0.40 Crisscut upgrade (~$7 USD)
  • Size: Regular meal with Chicago Supreme, Crisscut fries and drink
  • Purchased at: McDonald’s – Leeds 2
  • Nutritional Quirks: Nothing like a Chicago Dog, but at least there’s lots of protein?

McDonald’s UK Tastes Of America Crisscut Fries

  • Score: 2 out of 5 potato Alphabites (NOT the cereal)
  • Size:8 lattices
  • Purchased at: McDonald’s – Leeds 2
  • Nutritional Quirks: Say no to chip spice.


Burger King Spring Menu: Bacon Cheddar Stuffed Burger and Loaded Tater Tots

Burger King Spring Menu Bacon Cheddar Stuffed Burger and Loaded Tater TotsSpring has arrived, and that means it’s time for another round of seasonal Burger King offerings! I love this marketing scheme that they’ve developed: new (or new-ish, or returning) menu items available for a limited time. It keeps things fresh without over-crowding the menu. I would love to see every fast food restaurant adopt this model, although that would result in me drowning in grease and also a backlog of reviews.

BK’s Spring Menu showcases Smooth Roast Coffee, Lattes, Donut Holes, Piña Colada Smoothie, Peach and Unsweetened Iced Teas, Turkey and Veggie Burgers, Chipotle Chicken Sandwiches and Wraps, Chipotle Whopper, Bacon Cheddar Stuffed Burger and Loaded Tater Tots.

That’s an impressive lineup. Today we’ll be looking at the latter two items, simply because they sounded tasty and vaguely interesting, and I think I’ll tear my hair out if I have to review something chipotle-flavored and type the sentence “this doesn’t really taste like chipotle” one more time.

Who am I kidding, that’s inevitable.

Bacon Cheddar Stuffed Burger

Burger King Spring Menu Bacon Cheddar Stuffed Burger

Burger King describes this as “A Mouthwatering USDA Inspected fire-grilled ground beef patty stuffed with hardwood smoked bacon and savory cheddar cheese, topped with fresh-cut lettuce, juicy tomatoes, ketchup, mayo and crispy onion rings all on a warm, artisan-style bun.”

I’d like to translate this: “We took the stuff that tastes good on top of a hamburger and buried it inside the hamburger, thus ensuring that you do not actually taste them. But hey, it sounds like a good gimmick, right?”

You may call this harsh, since this was my immediate impression of the burger before I even tasted it. It’s just that I’ve had “stuffed” burgers before, and that’s pretty much what happens – all that good cheese and bacon flavor gets buried inside the burger, which is no fun at all. But hey, maybe Burger King will be different!

Burger King Spring Menu Bacon Cheddar Stuffed Burger Inside

Burger King is not different. Ignoring the especially lackluster lettuce and “good enough” tomatoes, I was pleased with the amount of onion rings on my Stuffed Burger. While the quantity was good, the quality was not – resting under mayo, ketchup and tomatoes, they were soggy as all get-out.

Burger King Spring Menu Bacon Cheddar Stuffed Burger Halves

While I would have liked the added crunch, the onions and the breading did add some flavor to the burger, which was welcome because…

Burger King Spring Menu Bacon Cheddar Stuffed Burger Close-Up

…while I could obviously see the bacon and cheddar stuffed inside the Bacon Cheddar Stuffed Burger, as I predicted, I could not really taste them. Every third bite or so, I’d get some creaminess or a hickory smoke taste, but they paled in comparison to a regular, topped bacon cheeseburger.

The Bacon Cheddar Stuffed Burger is all gimmick with little taste delivery. You’d be much better off just Having it Your Way and getting a cheeseburger with bacon on top. Burger King has some of the best bacon of all the fast food restaurants, and it’s a shame to bury it inside the patty.

Loaded Tater Tots

Burger King Spring Menu Loaded Tater Tots

It took me a while to realize that Burger King had already introduced the idea of fried cheese potato bites when they introduced their Cheesy Tots on the Winter Menu. That was only a season ago, which is less a testament to the idea that they were so forgettable and more that I have the memory of a goldfish.

Loaded Tater Tots are a somewhat different beast, however. In my review of Cheesy Tots, I mentioned that they were good but that I wanted more out of them. It seems that Burger King has listened to me.

BK describes the Loaded Tots as “A bite-sized snack that is sure to kick your meal up a notch! Enjoy warm fluffy potatoes filled with flavorful bacon and sweet onions on the inside, with a savory and crispy crumb coating on the outside. Available in eight, 10 or 12 piece servings. These LOADED TATER TOTS™ potatoes are great for sharing and are a savory complement to any meal.

Burger King Spring Menu Loaded Tater Tots Close-Up

With the addition of bacon and onions, these Tots have become Loaded. They’re shaped more like a jalapeño popper than the Cheesy Tots, which had a more rounded shape.

Burger King Spring Menu Loaded Tater Tots Inside

While BK’s description oddly leaves out that there’s cheese inside…well, there’s cheese inside. The potato innards were indeed warm and fluffy, and there was a pleasant amount of creamy cheese that worked well with the potatoes. The crumb coating was nice and crunchy, but a little thinner than I would have liked.

The main problem with Loaded Tater Tots is that it’s hard to taste the Loaded. They had a pleasant hint of onion, but the bacon taste was a little lacking. Even though you can see the little bits of bacon, there’s barely a hint of that smoked bacon flavor, and there’s no real bacon texture.

Burger King’s Loaded Tater Tots are tasty. Getting the potato-to-cheese ratio is half the battle, and they accomplished that. Unfortunately, the Loaded upgrade was lacking. I’m glad that the onion wasn’t overwhelming, but they went too far in the other direction, making it rather underwhelming. My biggest disappointment was obviously with the bacon – bigger, more flavorful chunks would have added that hickory flavor that works great with potato and cheese, and having a little extra crunch from them would have been nice, too.

Burger King’s Spring Menu has a lot of variety in it. I wish I could hit it all, but then I’d probably be reviewing them well into their Fall menu. I chose the Bacon Cheddar Stuffed Burger and Loaded Tater Tots for their uniqueness and possible tastiness.

Unfortunately, the Stuffed Burger made a classic mistake, which is “stuffing a burger”, thus negating the very flavors they were trying to stuff, making it taste mostly like a regular ol’ hamburger.

The Loaded Tater Tots fared a little better and were indeed tasty, but the onion and especially the bacon flavor had a hard time shining through, thus making the Loaded Tater Tots a lot like BK’s Cheesy Tots. I’m achin’ for some bacon, over here.

Burger King Bacon Cheddar Stuffed Burger

  • Score: 2.5 out of 5 stop stuffin’ your burgers it hardly ever works
  • Price: $3.99
  • Size: 1 burger
  • Purchased at: Burger King #17145
  • Nutritional Quirks: With 12 grams of saturated fat, I feel like I should be getting more bang for my arteries.

Burger King Loaded Tots

  • Score: 3 out of 5 really outdated “Where’s the bacon?” jokes
  • Price: $1.99
  • Size: 8 tots
  • Purchased at: Burger King #17145
  • Nutritional Quirks: I just…I just want some bacon…from somewhere…

Brand Eating reviewed both products, and The Impulsive Buy and GrubGrade reviewed the Stuffed Burger.

Carl’s Jr. Southwest Patty Melt

By now, you’ve probably heard about the new Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s Southwest Patty Melt. Or maybe you haven’t, because you were too busy watching Kate Upton have sex with it. Carl’s obviously knows how to generate press: the news was all aflutter about the commercial; some called it sexy, some called it disgusting. I call it fodder for a review, because while I was actually rather excited to try something I’m reviewing (for once), let’s face it: the commercial is more interesting than the burger.

Let’s have some fun and examine all the different ways Kate Upton has sex with the Southwest Patty Melt!

Kate is sitting at a movie drive-in, in what looks like an already sexy classic convertible. He date is a Happy Star bag. The idea that Kate Upton couldn’t get a date to quietly have under-blanket sex with during the movie is almost as improbable as the idea that she found a drive-in movie lot that still exists.

But Kate doesn’t want to bonk a dude; she wants to eat a Southwest Patty Melt. Her first position is oral; she bites into the sandwich, practically having to unhinge her jaw like a snake in the process, creating a sound that’s more like someone stepping on a slug than eating a burger.

She lets her hair down like a sexy librarian; sweat beads up on her chest and she takes her sweater off, making for a completely obvious but really who cares about that tit shot.

Kate Upton is suddenly transported to the back seat of the vehicle, where she is sitting on top of the seats with the Happy Star Bag between her legs. It is a very unladylike position, as her legs are spread quite far apart and she is wearing a dress. I guess the Happy Star bag is going down on her? Perhaps they are performing the sexual act known as the Leg Lock. I have a friend to thank for going out on the Internet and finding the actual name of that position. I also now know the names of 77 different sexual positions, and I think I’m going to have to take up yoga.

Up next, Kate Upton is eating her burger while laying down in the backseat of the convertible, which I would not recommend as it seems that would present quite the choking hazard. Her legs are resting on the top of the door and the Happy Star is once again between her legs. I would call this missionary style, which is so pedestrian, but hey, sometimes you gotta get back to the basics.

At the end of the commercial, she’s just kind of sitting in a sexy model pose, and takes another slow, juicy bite out of the sandwich. I am assuming this is her version of the post-coital cigarette.

Oh, we’re not done. There’s another commercial on Carl’s Jr.’s website that I’d like to touch on briefly, much like how many of you would like to touch on Kate Upton. Or yourselves, after watching that commercial. Ugh I just grossed myself out.

I can’t identify the woman in this commercial, but she also appears to be able to unhinge her jaw, and porn music plays while some audio geek in the studio steps on another poor slug as we get a close-up of her biting into the giant Southwest Patty Melt. She makes her best O-face, then bites into a jalapeño and does that thing with her hands that you do when something is too hot, while her mouth does a weird thing like she’s about to suck on…you know what, this review is already incredibly raunchy, so I’ll let you readers finish that sentence.

Then some text comes up that says…JALAPEN-O-FACE?! Oh my god, I made the same joke that Carl’s Jr. did, but they made it even better by throwing in a pun. I am shamed.

Well, it can only go upward from here, folks. Let’s just talk about the burger.

I figured I would enjoy the Southwest Patty Melt from the moment I heard about it. I already enjoy Carl’s Jalapeno Burger, and I prefer sourdough bread over a hamburger bun, so I was pretty psyched.

Never change, Carsl's.


And the Southwest Patty Melt delivers, for the most part. Carl’s describes it as “A charbroiled beef patty, with sliced jalapeños, grilled onions, pepper-Jack cheese and spicy Santa Fe sauce, all on grilled sourdough bread.” The bread was a little smushed, which is to be expected in fast food, but it was sufficiently toasted. The sauce was plentiful and tasty, but more tangy than spicy. The cheese was melty, and paired well with the sauce.

The grilled onions didn’t really add much flavor; there also wasn’t very much of them. The most important omission, however, were the jalapeños. As you can see in the picture, mine came with only three, and one of those was a small end piece. In a sandwich, and a commercial, that puts emphasis on a certain ingredient, having a serious lack of that ingredient is a big misstep.

All in all, I enjoyed the Southwest Patty Melt. I liked the bread, Carl’s always delivers a decent burger, and the cheese and the sauce combined were creamy and added a little heat. While I actually didn’t mind the lacking/flavorlessness of the grilled onions, the lack of jalapeños was the really disappointing part. Like with any fast food, I could order it again and get a ton of them, but I can only go off of my experience, and three jalapeños just ain’t cutting it.

In conclusion, I’d like to apologize to my mom for what is probably the raunchiest review I’ve ever written. I blame Carl’s Jr for turning a burger into a sex act.

Carl’s Jr. Southwest Patty Melt

  • Score: 4 out of 5 Kate Upton-on-burger sex acts
  • Price: $3.49 (for the single patty version)
  • Size: 1 burger
  • Purchased at: Carl’s Jr. #828
  • Nutritional Quirks: Have some water handy, because the single patty Southwest Patty Melt contains 1,460 mg of sodium. The Six Dollar version contains a whopping 1,970 mg.

So Good also reviewed the Southwest Patty Melt (and got 17 jalapeño slices!), as did GrubGrade, Brand Eating and An Immovable Feast.

News: McDonald’s Testing New English Pub Burger; Prepare to Have your Gob Smacked

Appearing in at least two cities (Algonquin and Genoa) in Illinois, McDonald’s is test marketing the English Pub Burger. Within the Empier first reported it; his tray liner described it as such: “If someone asks you if you fancy an English Pub Burger, the correct response is YES! This sandwich is smashing, made with 1/3 lb. of 100% Angus beef, hickory-smoked bacon, white cheddar & American cheese, grilled onions, tangy steak sauce & smoky Dijon mustard sauce all housed on an artisan roll. It’s so tasty, you’ll be gobsmacked!”

Credit: Within the Empier

The liner also defines these bolded English slang words, which I find completely unnecessary since I’m convinced that by now, every American has watched at least one of Gordon Ramsey’s seven million TV shows and is mildly familiar with such terms.

A GrubGrade reader also had the chance to try one, and reported that “This burger just works and tastes unlike anything I’ve ever had from McDonald’s.” Strong words. There’s a lot going on with this burger; I find the combination of steak sauce and smoky Dijon most intriguing. My fingers are crossed that the steak sauce will be British brown sauce (like HP or Daddie’s) and not just standard A1. I also hope that it goes national and I’ll actually get to try it one day.

The English Pub Burger is priced at $4.49, the same as McDonald’s other Angus Third Pounders. It’s nice to see the chain doing something outside their usual burger offerings. I’m not convinced that the English Pub Burger stays 100% true to actual English pub offerings, but at this point, I’m beyond semantics. I just want to try it out!

If you’ve had a chance to try the English Pub Burger, please leave a comment! I would love to hear some other opinions.

Sources: BurgerBusiness, Within the Empier, GrubGrade

Burger King Jalapeño & Cheddar BK Stuffed Steakhouse Burger

The Internet is mildly abuzz about Burger King’s Jalapeño & Cheddar BK Stuffed Steakhouse burger. It’s the first “wacky” fast food item to debut in 2011. I’ll let Burger King’s official press release explain. Imagine The King staring at you from outside your window while you read it. Don’t imagine him saying it though; The King does not talk. Little known fact: this is because The King got involved with some very shady characters a while back, and he saw too much. He paid the price; he’ll never squeal again. I should probably not explain any further. I’ve already said too much.

Anyway, press release. “This premium sandwich packs a flavorful punch of robust ingredients with bits of jalapeño peppers and Cheddar cheese inside the juicy flame-broiled burger that’s topped off with creamy poblano sauce, ripe tomatoes and crisp lettuce on a premium bakery bun.”

I don’t really understand all the hubbub. Oh my god, they put what would usually go on top of the burger inside the burger! They must be crazy! My husband has been doing that for years. Garlic, chipotle, onions, you name it. Right in the raw ground beef, then right into the pan. How is this strange or overindulgent? Have I finally lost my grasp on the last shred of understanding how normal people see food? It’s a very real possibility.

I do like one other tidbit from the press release. According to Jonathan Muhtar, vice president, global product marketing and innovation, Burger King Corp, “With our first ever stuffed sandwich, we’re giving our guests what they want – juicy 100-percent beef infused with jalapeños and Cheddar for an experience you can see and taste in every bite.”

I like to imagine hundreds – nay, thousands – of angry emails coming in from faithful Burger King lovers, demanding that BK start shoving shit into their meat patties. Vehemence. Violent threats. Back against the wall, Mr. Muhtar had no choice. This is where all of his global product marketing and innovation were going to be put to the test. It was go time.

Jalapeños and cheddar are pretty pedestrian items when it comes to violating a meat patty, but I’m intrigued by the “creamy poblano sauce”. The poblano pepper is generally a very mild pepper. It’s the pepper vessel used in the dish chile relleno, if that gives you any further context. I’m curious as to why this particular pepper was chosen to be incorporated into a sauce. I guess the only way to find out is to eat the thing.

My first impression of the Burger King Jalapeño & Cheddar BK Stuffed Steakhouse burger (do we really need the BK? It’s a long enough product title and I’m pretty sure I know where I got it from, I’m not Sammy Jenkins) was that it has a nice heft and is quite large. Large enough that my petite mouth could barely take a solid bite. Imagine one of those sexy Carl’s Jr. commercials with Kim Kardashian messily eating a burger, except replace her with some dumb food blogger wearing an oversized Newcastle Brown Ale shirt with no pants on watching the awful reality tv show of your choosing. Ladies eating giant burgers aren’t always sexy. Trust me.

The lettuce was not the best, but that’s to be expected from a fast food joint. All those white pieces did add a nice crunch, though. The tomatoes tasted fresh. The bun, described as “premium”, was a little different than your usual stepped-on-looking bun. It was nice and fluffy, and was topped with corn flour instead of your typical sesame seeds.

Of course, the important part was the patty. As you can see, there are visible bits of jalapeño and cheddar embedded in the burger, as advertised. After eating a few bites, I was already appreciating the heat of the jalapeño. Fast food joints tend to play up the spiciness of their food, but this burger had legit heat. By the time I finished, my nose was running a little. That’s the sign of some legitimate capsacin in the house.

While the heat was a surprising and welcome addition, I found the star of the show was really the creamy poblano sauce. I’ll admit, I struggled to find any true poblano flavor. But nonetheless, that sauce was delicious and plentiful. It seemed more like a southwest mayo, but with a little something I couldn’t quite place. I hate it when there’s that little touch of flavor that I just can’t nail down. The sauce wasn’t really spicy, but it had lots of flavor that played really well with the heat from the jalapeño chunks.

What was sadly missing from this otherwise tasty group of ingredients was the cheese. I really tried to taste the cheddar, but I just couldn’t find it in there. Maybe there was a subtle creaminess of cheese, but not really any cheese flavor. Heck, the creaminess could have come from the sauce, for all I know.

The Burger King Jalapeño & Cheddar BK Stuffed Steakhouse Burger isn’t that wacky, but it is a quality burger. The runny nose effect shows that it has a good amount of heat. I loved the poblano sauce too, even though I was mystified as to what was making it taste so good. The lettuce was weak and I had a hard time getting any cheddar flavor, which was the most disappointing part. But even without the cheese, this stuffed burger is spicy and tasty. It’s available for a limited time only, but hopefully it will be successful enough to inspire more Stuffed Steakhouse burgers. I know from personal experience that chipotles and sriracha sauce both make good stuffings. Just a tip, in case The King is reading this. Stay clean, man, you don’t want to lose any more body parts.

(Note: The Impulsive Buy, GrubGrade, An Immovable Feast and Me So Hungry have also reviewed this burger.  J & C BK Stuffed Steakhouse is the belle of the ball!)

  • Score: 4 out of 5 eerily silent Kings
  • Price: $3.99
  • Size: 1 burger
  • Purchased at: Burger King #17145
  • Nutritional Quirks: There doesn’t seem to be any nutritional information available from BK for this burger, but I’m dying to know what’s in the creamy poblano sauce. Maybe the secret ingredient is magic!

(Edit: Thanks to The Impulsive Buy and Burger King’s PR department, I now know that this burger has a surprisingly low 590 calories, but you can take heart in the 34 grams of total fat which includes 12 grams of saturated and 2 grams of trans.  Also enjoy your 1,240 milligrams of sodium!)

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.