Archive for category The Junkie

The Junkie: Top 10 Drive-Thru Items That Aren’t So Bad For You

Monthly Feature
Fatty is back, delving into the world of fast food…with another great list!

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.

Arby's Roast Beef*

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.

Wendy's Chili**

#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.

KFC's Grilled Chicken***

#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.

Source: *, **, ***

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The Junkie: Top 5 Limited Time Burgers

Monthly Feature
Fatty is back, delving into the world of fast food…with another great list!

Blarghy! That was my first feeling after seeing a biopic on The Simpsons phrases.

You see, back in the early 90’s I was walking around in Galveston and a friend of mine noticed something unmentionable on my foot. He was mortified and asked me what it was My response? “Meh.”

This meant nothing to me at the time. But as the years passed I noticed other shows doing it: The Simpsons, South Park, X-Factor.

This was MY word. Always has been. Learn it. Live it. Love it. And be aware that I, Fatty, am the official “meh” Meh.

Back to food!

I learned one cold hard truth: There is a reason they call them limited time….

I’m still pissed, but I put together a limited time pyramid? Half are already gone, so anyone who sees me in public can kick me randomly. (In fact, I’m OK with it. Just not in the nuts.)

Back to burgers!

I saw that McDonald’s was doing a new “English Pub” burger. I was intrigued. I told my folks that we had to try it, and from there it went.

Disclaimer: I am always better than you with my opinion, but I could be (doubtful) wrong.

#5 Wendy’s Hot and Juicy
Not only are they stomping on the owner’s grave, but it simply is an awful burger. Where’s the beef? Back where Dave died. If I had a majority share, I’d pistol-whip whatever ad-wizard thought this was a sound concept.

#4 McDonald’s English Pub
I’m not saying it was necessarily bad, it just wasn’t me. Chewy ciabatta bread has always been a love/hate thing, so…

#3 Burger King’s California Whopper
This was not only one of the best fast food burgers I had, but it also, inexplicably, had dumbass mayo (And from now on I will always refer to mayo as dumbass mayo)

#2 Jack in the Box’s Outlaw Burger
Say what you want about this bubble-headed white sphere pointy nosed non fatty. I love me a burger with onion rings.

#1 Whataburger’s Green Chile Burger
Here’s the deal. This was the best burger I had. Would anyone like to see it come back?

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The Junkie: Taco Cabana’s Fajitas Puebla

Monthly Feature
Fatty is back, delving into the world of fast food…one dish at a time!

Three reviews. Two on Taco Cabana. Coincidence? Absolutely not. For those unaware of Taco Cabana, it is essentially the Starbucks of Texas. There’s always one within a stone’s throw. Ever see Demolition Man? Somebody obviously traveled to Houston around 2015 and we became the inspiration for the film. You pretty much have to eat it at least twice a month.

So I went up to my local TC to try out their new Fajitas Puebla. (limited time) I will start with the cashier. Honestly, she was one of the peppiest people I have ever met, and I’m sorry I didn’t catch her name. She deserves some praise. I’ll just say to look for a young blonde if you are ever at the Kirby & 59 location. (That should help some of y’all go on its own merit.)

Anyway, I placed my order and headed to the salsa bar. For those who read my first review, I mentioned that I liked their new ranch salsa. It wasn’t there. Considering this was the same location, my brow started to slightly raise.

The new fajitas puebla tacos are made with marinated steak or all-white meat chicken, topped with a mix of fresh pico de gallo, shredded lettuce, and chopped bacon. For the final touch, Taco Cabana created a creamy avocado sauce made with avocados, jalapenos, sour cream, and chopped cilantro topped off with a hint of fresh lime juice.

Once again, they say the inspiration for this came from culinary trips to Mexico as part of its ongoing commitment to bring guests the traditional and emerging flavors from there. That explanation might explain the avocado sauce, (and that is stretching it,) but bacon? Please. This is as close to authentic Mexican cuisine as spaghetti & meatballs.

This item is available as combination platter or a dinner (chips and a drink vs. rice and beans.) I went with the dinner. Big mistake.

What am I supposed to do with these?

My order is up and I head to the window and bring it to my table. The dinner comes with rice, beans, guacamole and… two extra tortillas. I’m still trying to figure out what the tortillas are for. I decided to get a combination of chicken & steak so I could review both.

As I unwrapped my fajitas, I found something lacking, like fresh pico de gallo, shredded lettuce, chopped bacon and a creamy avocado sauce. (yes, I copied and pasted that last line. Wouldn’t you?) I explained that they had mixed up my order, and they quickly rectified it and let me keep the other two tacos. Nice. It makes the $7 + price tag a lot more digestible.

Now, to the folks who say everything tastes better with bacon? Stop it. Bacon tastes better on a burger than it does in a French onion soup. That isn’t an opinion. That is a fact. These tacos tasted fine enough, but the bacon and other toppings are pretty bland add-ons. I barely even noticed they were there. Simply put, these new additions to their regular fajitas weren’t worth the extra calories. (which I know, thanks to receiving the two “regular” fajitas.

Free food. My favorite!

If you want to try this out, go for it. I’ve seen some very favorable reviews, and it might be just your speed. But my best advice is to opt for the combo. The “dinner” option had very uninspiring guacamole, tasteless rice, beans that tasted strongly of vinegar, for whatever reason, and the two tortillas to nowhere. (mild shout out to my Valdez peeps.) And that’s what I’ve concluded about TC: Very good at making very basic Tex Mex. Still needs a lot of work with its fancy creations.

Ah well, go in and be on the lookout for the blonde cashier. She’s worth going all on her own.

*TMR received coupons from Taco Cabana representatives to perform this product review.

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The Junkie: Top 10 All-Time Discontinued Fast Food Items

Monthly Feature
Fatty usually covers one current fast food item. Not for this installment of The Junkie!

Pretty much since I can remember, I’ve always had to try out new items advertised at the fast food chains. Even if it is incredibly stupid, I still order it to see if I’m mistaken. (a cheese roll up, Taco Bell? Really?) Throughout the years there have been plenty of hits and misses – mostly misses. Occasionally, they’ll get one right and have something that you’d easily order again. Which is why I’m surprised that these chains haven’t gone to the ol’ internet and looked up web pages dedicated to old discontinued items from the past. It would be a win-win for both sides. Hell, if McDonald’s can keep bringing back the atrocious McRib abomination every year, surely these other companies can resurrect some old favorites. So, I thought back to jog some old memories and came up with the 10 discontinued fast food items that I feel need to make a comeback.

Yumbo Time*

10. Burger King’s: Yumbo
I’ve gotta admit, I never even knew about the Yumbo until I started writing this, but there were enough Facebook pages on bringing this back, so I felt I should include it. Pretty simple concept: Ham and cheese on a hamburger bun. But so are a lot of great food items. This should be a no-brainer for them. I like the Yumbo name, too.

9. Jack in the Box’s: Patty Melt on Rye
Yes, I am fully aware That Jack in the Box has a similar variation with their “Sourdough Jack”. But Rye bread just seems like a healthier option, as the sourdough buns they use seem to be nearly deep-fried. Plus anyone who is anyone knows that a true patty melt should be made with Rye bread.

8. Long John Silver’s: Peg Leg
Back in the 70’s and 80’s, LJS pretty much branded the restaurant as pirate-themed. Just about every kid that walked in was greeted with their very own cardboard pirate hat. I don’t recall if they handed out eye patches, but I do recall the peg legs. They were simply fried chicken drumsticks, but were nonetheless still fantastic. I’ve always liked their batter more than other places anyway. Along with the crispies, this is one that would be great to see again.

7.  McDonald’s: McDLT
This was a great concept: Keep the lettuce and tomato cool, and keep the burger hot. It even had the awesomest container in the history of fast food. Sadly, I also think that container single-handedly caused the burger’s demise, as folks started to shun their Styrofoam containers. But I still think they should bring it back, if only so they can re-air the best Jason Alexander commercial… Ever!

The Roastburger*

6. Arby’s: Roastburger
This sandwich wasn’t around long enough to have much of a following, but personally, I loved it. The trick was to get the all American and double the roast beef portion. It really did taste like some odd hybrid of an Arby’s sandwich and a hamburger. The fact that it had a line of Roastburgers introduced in 2009 that are already discontinued doesn’t bode well for its return though. Too bad. I think it could have developed its own cult following.

5. Wendy’s: Superbar
Back in the 80’s and 90’s, Wendy’s had a huge all-you-could-eat buffet in their restaurants, complete with a full salad bar, Italian pasta and pizza, and Mexican tacos and nachos. To a kid on a budget, this was Shangri-La. You could even make a frito pie, albeit with those awful beans that Wendy’s insists on putting in the chili. All of the food on it was average at best, but again, it was unlimited! I’m assuming that last part was why it ended up being removed in the late 90’s.

4. Whataburger’s: Steak Fajitas
Yes. Back around 10 years ago, Whataburger had Steak fajitas. They were delicious. The web pages have deduced that some Yankee infiltrated into the Corpus Christi Headquarters and immediately started sissifying the menu. My first hint of this was hearing “Hey Delilah” in Whataburger during my last visit. Whataburger needs to bring this back…like…yesterday.

Taco Bell's Bell Beefer*

3. Taco Bell’s: Bell Beefer
Imagine a burger whose components are simply a couple of crispy taco fillings and you now know what the Bell Beefer was. It’s #3 on my list, but this far and away had the most fan pages for an item that has legions of fans. Come on TB. Is a bun distributor that difficult to locate? Step your game up!

2. Taco Bell’s: Cheesarito
This one bothers me not only because it was one of my favorite Taco Bell items growing up (along with the Meximelt) but also because Taco Bell still has every ingredient used to make them. All it was was a healthy amount of cheese with their Mexican Pizza sauce, topped with lettuce and green onion. The trick was to melt the cheese in the same oven that heats up the Meximelt. I can still occasionally find a Taco Bell that will still make this. If you can, I suggest you do.

Mmmmm...warm apple pie!*

1. McDonald’s: Fried Apple Pie
Look, I know that whole “Supersize Me” documentary freaked them out, but switching from a fried apple pie to a baked one was just stupid. The frying was what made it so damn good in the first place! Nobody who goes to McDonald’s thinks a fried apple pie is healthy. (OK, most people?) But it should still be an option. Hardee’s loves to tout its nearly 1500 calorie burger. Nobody is asking you to do that, but bringing back an old favorite would sure be nice.

So those were my choices for menu items that would be great to see back on the menus, even if only for a limited time. This article was a lot of fun researching, so I’ll do more later down the line. Anyone have some items that I missed?

*Source: Image 1, 2, 3, 4

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