Monday, November 29, 2010

Fast, but is it food?

Mrs. Newbius and I arrived home safely last night. My thanks to all of the people who supported us this past week. I treasure all of you.

A couple of observations are in order. First, fast food isn't. Some of it is food, but is not fast. Some of it is fast, but barely qualifies as food. Some of it is neither. While blasting across the country twice this past week, I got to sample a lot of fast food. The things that really stand out in my mind are these:

McDonald's is consistent. A burger, breakfast sandwich, or cup of coffee tastes exactly the same in Dickson, Tennessee as it does in St. George, Utah. They are a known quantity, no surprises. Not great, but consistent. A solid 4 out of 10 on the fast-food scale.

Sonic is inconsistent. Where they are good, they are above average. Where they are not, they are not. The Sonic in Oklahoma City was above average. This store rates a 5.5 out of 10.

Wendy's does the double-patty cheeseburger better than most, and they are pretty good nationally. I had forgotten how good they are, and the Wendy's in Parachute, Colorado was very good but a bit pricey. The produce was fresh and the meat was very flavorful. This store rates a 6 out of 10.

The regional chains generally do better than the national ones do in terms of taste. The three that stand out are: Five Guys (East coast), Steak and Shake (Midwest), and In-N-Out (West coast). In my experience, they rank (worst-to-first) Steak and Shake (7/10), Five Guys (8/10), and In-N-Out (9/10). There are no losers in this bunch. All of these chains rank far above the national chains in terms of taste and quality (although Five Guys doesn't do drive-through). You can take me to a Steak and Shake for a milkshake any time. They are very good there, and the one in Topeka was worth the stop.

Five Guys does fresh meat patties and hand-cut fries, and the few I have been to are pretty good. The finished product is at times inconsistent, but is mostly good most of the time. They are not quite as polished as some chains, and the one by my house has at times needed a more thorough cleaning. If you want a good fast-food burger and one of these is nearby, go there.

What can I say about In-N-Out? Everybody should go there at least once in their life. Fresh (never frozen) meat, locally sourced. Fresh produce on the burgers. French fries that are made from honest-to-goodness potatoes cleaned and cut right there in the store. Reasonable prices, outstanding flavor. Their slogan is "Quality you can taste", and they mean it. I went to the one in Anaheim Hills, and it was great.
Double-double with both raw and grilled onions, French Fries, and a lemonade. Well worth the drive, all 2700 miles of it. :)



(Note to the FTC: I paid for these burgers with my own cash, and sometimes with indigestion-thanks McDonald's. I have received only food value for this post...)


Newbius said...

As an aside, none of the places where I got food unfit for canine consumption are listed here.

You truck stops, stop-n-robs, and highway scum know who you are. Stop fleecing the driving public with your representations of food. Trust me, it isn't abstract art you are selling. It should look, smell, and taste like real food. If it doesn't, you should try another line of work.

JP said...

Here I am thinking about going and getting some gut busting fast food burger because I got nothing in the house to eat and you go and post this. Now I guess I HAVE to do it.

We actually just got Five Guys out here in Tucson, Arizona - so I may go give that a shot. But they don't have a drive through, and I am lazy - maybe not.

Jennifer said...

Try a Braums when you are in the right area. You won't regret it.

PS. The word verification thingie sounds like something that would get one of these establishments shut down. 'bacillyw'

Jay G said...

Glad to hear you and the Mrs. are home safe, Newbius!

John Venlet said...

What, you didn't pass by any Waffle Houses?

Newbius said...

John Venlet reads my blog??? Squee!! :D

Newbius said...

Actually, I didn't eat at any of the Waffle Houses we passed. Mostly because we were on a tight schedule. Coast-to-coast, with three days of visiting family in-between, by car, in a little over a week. Friday, 11/19 departure. Sunday, 11/28 return. About 5700 miles total, driven in a little over 92 hours over the course of 9+ days all-told.

Obsidian said...

Thanks for the write-up and welcome back!

Old NFO said...

Concur on not only the analysis, but the order... Glad y'all got back okay!

John Venlet said...

Yes, I read your blog, but usually not for the food reviews.

About 5700 miles total, driven in a little over 92 hours over the course of 9+ days all-told.

That is some serious windshield time.

J.R.Shirley said...

5 Guys. Mmmm...