Archive for category The Junkie
Guest Post by Jim Rassinier
To preface this, I wrote an article a couple years ago about discontinued fast food items that I thought should be brought back. I felt all were good options, but never did I think that I would actually see one make a comeback. (C’mon cheesarito!)
For those unaware, Burger King created the Yumbo in 1968, and, sadly, only stayed on their menu until 1974. (I was only 2 at the time…) It was a great idea; simply put: a hot ham and cheese sandwich. Well, 40 years later, they decided to put it back on the menu, albeit slightly altered by placing it in their chicken sandwich bun and serving it with authentic black forest ham for those who might think BK is cutting corners. I’m personally not a fan of these being served on this particular sandwich bread. (Does Burger King still let you have it “your way?” I may have to go back and see. I think this would go so much better on a burger bun.)
Regardless, in honor of this resurrection, I chose to try Burger King once again and purchase an almighty Yumbo, along with their Big Fish sandwich on the “2 for $5 menu.”
First off, this is a damn good sandwich for the normal price of $3.69, much less $2.50. It’s always great to be able to go into a drive through and get something actually different than the typical burger or chicken sandwich.
My biggest issue was the bread: It wasn’t awful, but I’ve never been a fan of the bread. I went twice with two other folks and we all agreed it was a tad “bready.” Otherwise, spot on. I’m thinking I’ll have to do an update to see if they’ll switch the bread out, and if there will be an extra cost.
As for the Big Fish? Pretty good and better than Wendy’s current iteration. I’m still a huge fan of Chick-fil-a’s, if you’re curious about which drive-thru to go to during Lent. But all that said, you’re not going to get a better fish sandwich for $2.50, period. I’m a fan of this current strategy, especially since Subway ended their $5 foot long campaign. I’m also really impressed with their new “10 nuggets for $1.50.” Not sure where you’re getting your meat, BK, but it’s working for ya.
Overall though, I’d say that the new Yumbo is a must try these days for folks that are tired of the same old, same old. It’s new, it’s refreshing, and it’s actually pretty damn good!
Now we just need to get other fast food franchises to follow suit.
And fun fact: Burger King franchised off to Australia in the 80’s. Only one problem: there was already a “Burger King” there. (small mom & pop store.) So Burger King had to come up with a different name over there. They Let their Aussie partners choose amongst a litany of their “franchise names.” Their choice? Hungry Jack … yes … the biscuit company.
Our good friend Fatty FatBastard is back..and this month he’s taking his fast food act off menu!
For the past few years, I have heard my friends on the Pacific Coast go on and on about In-N-Out burgers and how superior to all other franchises anywhere. The one thing that In-N-Out is notorious for is their “secret menu”…stuff that isn’t listed on their actual menu, but that you can order anyway. For some reason, folks thought that it made this Cali chain have a “coolness” factor; except it didn’t.
Pretty much EVERY fast food chain has a “secret menu.” Here are my top 10 items. To have fun, I’ve listed another off-menu pairing for each. Bon appetit.
10. Jack in the Box: Ultimate Cheeseburger on Sourdough Bread
JITB takes this classic known for its meat and cheese only attitude and pumps it to an 11 with the addition of the sourdough bread. This is honestly the best combination of Jack’s two best sandwiches, and worthy of a purchase at least once. Enjoy with a Mint Oreo cookie shake.
9. Dairy Queen: Peanut Buster Parfait
Even though this has been off DQ’s menu for over a decade, you can still order it, as they still have all ingredients on hand. Perfect for those that like the salty-sweet combination. Get this with a chocolate chip blizzard, but instead of chocolate chips, add the bits of syrup that would usually harden over the cones.
8. Taco Bell: Cheesarito
I’ve mentioned this one before for its awesomeness, but it can still be ordered there even if the newbie behind the counter isn’t aware. The ingredients are simply extra cheese, green onions, and Mexican pizza sauce thrown into the Meximelt heater. You will be astounded that this is not a menu regular when you try it. Add a “Superman” to your order while you’re there (a Burrito Supreme with double the beef, potatoes, sour cream, guacamole and tortilla strips).
7. Wendy’s: Barnyard
Imagine this: A spicy chicken filet topped in ascending order: ham, cheese, bacon, cheese, a 1/4-lb. patty, and yes…cheese. A gut-bomb of epic delicious proportions. Not enough? Grab a Grand Slam, while you’re at it, which is fiyr 1/4-lb patties along with four slices of cheese. There is a reason neither of these is publicized. Have you seen Wendy recently?
6. Potbelly: Cheeseburger
Potbelly? A Deli shop with a cheeseburger? That’s what I initially thought. But, yes Virginia, there is a cheeseburger option. Potbelly cuts their meatballs in half, and then adds bacon, American cheese, ketchup, mustard, lettuce, tomatoes and pickles. Pretty interesting, eh? You can’t add much to this other than the “Wrecking Ball,” which simply combines their “wreck” sandwich with the meatballs. Cool name though. Get peppers on the side, just because you can.
5. McDonald’s: McKinley Mac
The genius of this is that it takes the enormousness that was the Big Mac in the 70’s and re-imagines it for the new millenium. This iteration is nothing more than a Big Mac, with one small exception. See if you can tell the difference in the jingle: “Two all beef ¼-lb. patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a Sesame seed bun.” I truly wish I knew about this one back in college. Get this with a root beer float (yes, they will make you on).
4: Burger King: BLT
That’s right folks. You can get a BLT at Burger King. It is as simple as it sounds. You can get this with or without a burger, but I choose to go sans patty, because it is incredibly cheap. Close to $1.50 last I went. Get this with their Frings (half fries/half onion rings mixed together).
3. Popeye’s: Naked Items
Yes, this will be the only “healthy” choice in this column. That said, Popeye’s will let you order any chickenwithout breading. Popeye’s chicken that I can order a hair more healthy? I’ll take it! Order alongside red beans & rice with chicken fried bits. You’ve earned it!
2. Chipotle: Quesarito
For those unaware, Chipotle is willing to put anything together that you ask, but who would think of wrapping a burrito in a quesadilla rather than a tortilla?!? Well, someone did, and it makes for an ingenious concept, and one I applaud. Have this one with Chipotle nachos (yes, they’ll make these too).
1. Whataburger: Double Double
I love to come full-circle with something when I can, and this time I was able to successfully find that Whataburger will indeed make it “just like you like it,” and that includes a variation on In-N-Out’s most famous “off menu” option. And, yes, that even includes a “Thousand Island-style” secret sauce. They could never advertise it, as that would encroach on the trademark In-N-Out has. But it is there, In-N-Out fans. Even on Texas toast, or with grilled onions, or everything else that makes Whataburger superior. Enjoy this with a sense of smugness that you live near a Whataburger, and they don’t.
For those unaware, Jack in the Box has been running this viral commercial about a fake creation called the “Jumbaco.” It’s a catchy enough slogan and the song tends to stick into your head like glue. The gist is that you take a taco and apply one to the top and bottom of your burger; similar to what KFC did with chicken patties a couple years ago. It’s a fun novelty concept, regardless of whether it is actually good or not.
But I have always been a fan of adding the unusual. Have you ever added Frito’s to a sandwich? It is breathtaking. So I was intrigued. I’ve always loved the tacos, but hated the Jumbo Jack. My thoughts on my visit were no different. The entire thing fell flat. The tacos on their own are fine, but added to a crap sandwich they just made the final product lackluster at best. It wasn’t Gawd-awful, but I would never recommend it to anyone.
And still, the concept still seemed like it might work. And with that in mind, I headed out to two places that I think do both foods well (and they happened to be within walking distance in Midtown.) I made a gourmet Jumbaco with two tacos from Cyclone Anaya’s with a cheeseburger from Christian’s Tailgate.
First off, the coolness factor was obvious. I felt like I was the host of ‘Man vs. Food.’ People kept coming over to ask about it. I even had one say ‘I can’t stop looking at it.’ It was indeed an awesome sight. So awesome, in fact, that it proved impossible to eat in its entirety, so I had to settle for eating the burger with one taco at a time.
This, in my opinion, proved to be the better choice. Much like I enjoy Frito’s on my sandwiches, the one crispy taco and seasoned meat added a new dimension to an already great burger. Had I had to try both tacos with the burger it would have been overload. I was very happy I decided to throw these together. And oddly enough, one taco tends to go perfectly with half of a Tailgate sandwich, so I was able to technically eat the Jumbaco; just not in the way originally conceived.
The one downside? This was one expensive proposal. This turned out to be around $16 when all was said and done. That said, I know both places. If this ever did become a thing, I guarantee both would accommodate.
So my opinion? Screw the JITB version and go gourmet like I did. It really does turn heads and, believe it or not, was pretty damn good. Jumbaco! Jumbaco! Jumbaco!
*Editor’s Note: TMR gives a tip of the cap to Fatty and his act of culinary bravery.
Pretty much anytime we think about trying to grab something decently healthy for lunch, our brains tend to go to two things: Grilled chicken sandwich or Subway. It’s monotonous and boring. Nobody can eat those two things and remain sane for very long. And it was with that notion that I set out to determine 10 more tasty options that were out there. Now, the one thing I have to preface is that EVERYTHING was bad from a sodium standpoint. If you need to lighten your salt intake, the drive thru isn’t for you in any capacity. That stated, I will say that the best Grilled Chicken is Wendy’s, which uses a honey mustard blend instead of mayonnaise, and I will say that the best Subway sandwich is the Turkey breast, with no cheese, all veggies, vinegar & mustard. I will also say that everything on Quizno’s menu is ridiculously fattening. Until they get their act together, avoid at all costs.
And that brings me to another very sad statement I have to make that I unfortunately found out when doing the research for this review. As a native Texan, I love Whataburger. All of their ingredients are fresh, tasty, and well prepared. The problem lies in the caloric and fat content. Not a thing on their menu is even in the same ballpark as other restaurants. The lightest burger they have is the mustard Whataburger with no cheese at 620 calories and 30 fat grams. Even their grilled chicken sandwich was 510 calories and 20 fat grams, and then pretty much ALL of the specialty burgers were around 1,000 calories and 70 fat grams. Compare that to the bane of “Supersize Me’s” McDonald’s Quarter Pounder with Cheese’s rather pedestrian 510 calories and 26 fat grams (boy, that was a lot of ‘s…) and you can understand my disappointment with our State’s flagship brand. Whataburger, you need to fix this.
Anyway, with that said, on with the countdown!
#10: Arby’s Classic Roast Beef and Potato Cakes
I know there are folks out there that loathe Arby’s. I’m not one of them. It might not be the best, but it is different, and I like it on occasion. This meal is pretty good considering you’re getting a full meal that amounts to 620 calories and 30 fat grams. If you like Arby’s, this is your best bet. Use Horsey sauce sparingly.
#9: Wendy’s Sour Cream & Chive Baked Potato (with a small chili)
OK, I’ve made it VERY clear that anyone who knows beans about chili knows that chili ain’t got no beans! It has made me physically force people to remove beans from some they dared to serve me. But I know there is a small consortium of folks that are OK with it, and at least Wendy’s isn’t calling their chili “Texas” chili. I can begrudgingly accept this as a healthy drive thru option. This choice works out to 520 calories and 10 grams of fat. Just think of the beans as unwelcome vermin and flick them at the car next to you.
#8: James Coney Island’s Chicago Dog
A lot of people aren’t aware of this, but JCI uses the exact same vendors as every Chicago Dog place. That means the same Vienna dog, the same bun, relish, etc. Unless Chi-towns tomatoes and onions are notably better there, (they aren’t) than this is the real McCoy, and worthy of a try. And at only 380 calories and 20 fat grams, you might want to toss in a cheese coney, as well.
#7: Beck’s Prime Kraut Dog
Beck’s Kraut Dog is two butterflied mesquite grilled franks on a hamburger bun. Pretty filling on its own, it comes in at a fairly healthy 518 calories and only 18 fat grams. Beck’s also has unique sides like grilled veggies and wild rice. (Not trying to go too healthy with y’all. Just saying they’re there and only add a couple hundred extra calories.)
#6: Chick-Fil-A 3 count Chick-n-Strips with Polynesian Sauce
Yes, I could have very easily picked Chick-Fil-A’s classic sandwich. (430 cal. 17 g fat) They are indeed awesome. But I thought that was too easy. Besides, anyone who has never tried the Strips (or nuggets, for that matter) with Polynesian sauce is missing out, big time. The 3 strips are at 360 calories and 17 fat grams, whereas the 12 count nuggets are at 400 and 18, respectively. The sauce adds a bit with and extra 110 and 6, but this is still relatively healthy and pretty damn good.
#5: Taco Bell’s Fresca Menu
You could eat all 7 menu options on this menu and still be under 50 fat grams. And that would be 3 burritos, 3 soft tacos and one crispy taco. Taco Bell has been known for years for cheap, crappy food. It looks like they’re turning a corner, and I applaud them for that. I can also say that I think the Fresca-style taco tastes better than the Supreme style, which adds nothing but sour cream and cheese. My personal recommendation would be to go with the Gordita & Tostada. But even if you’re a glutton, this is a good menu to stick with.
#4: Popeye’s Naked BBQ Po-boy with Red Beans & Rice
I love Popeye’s chicken, but their naked tenders have won me over, and this Po-Boy is so light, that even when you add a regular Red beans & Rice to it, it still adds up to 356 calories and 21 fat grams. Easily one of my favorite items.
#3: Jack in the Box’s Chicken Fajita Pita
Considering JITB is still one of the last companies using Trans-fat, I can’t argue with folks associating it with unhealthy, but they are missing out. The Fajita Pita is easily one of the best drive-thru items you can get, and it is freaking delicious! My only qualm is that a TON of drive-thru attendants forget to put in the salsa. Always make sure you have it before leaving! This puppy has only 326 calories and 10 grams of fat.
#2: KFC’s Grilled Chicken
Here was one of the coolest things I found while researching this: Mashed potatoes with gravy are always healthier than french fries. Call me a moron for not being aware of this sooner, but at least I know now. The other amazing thing? If you have the cajones (and I mean serious cajones) to order a KFC original recipe breast and drumstick, AND remove the skin, your intake will be 207 calories and 4.4 grams of fat! Easily the lowest reading on here! However, I’m doubting my readers have that much will power, so I’m going with the grilled variation of both, along with a nice delicious side of mashed potatoes. Damage? 430 calories and 15 fat grams. I will also recommend the grilled hot wings. They are really worth trying out once.
#1: Taco Cabana’s Soft Taco Combo
What can I say? I love their in-house made tortillas and I like the flavor of both the grilled chicken and the beef. And while they do have a drive-thru, I prefer to go in and get my toppings, myself. Still, I don’t think folks realize how much healthier this is for you than, say, a Whataburger. (Sorry I’m beating y’all up on this, but this has to change…) Both of these tacos (which I always consider a full meal) total in at 390 calories, and only 10 grams of fat, and you can go to town with anything in the salsa bar with no additions to that total.
Anyway, to all of you who, like me, are trying to shed a few new winter holiday pounds, I hope this has been helpful.