Sometimes you simply need to satisfy an insatiable and carnivorous burger craving, but at a reasonable cost. There are lots of cheaply priced burgers out there, but frugality shouldn't have to mean sacrificing quality right? Last week I decided to try and search out the best tasting value menu burger from the "Big 3" fast food burger chains being; McDonald's, Burger King, and Wendy's.
For my taste test, I picked the two lowest priced burgers off of each menu. I ate the respective burgers on three successive days, kept extensive notes, and snapped pictures of each burger I dined on. Below are my findings..
DAY 1 - BURGER KING
Burger #1 - BK Bacon Cheeseburger $1.29
Burger #1 - BK Bacon Cheeseburger $1.29
At first glance, the BK Bacon Cheeseburger looked impressive with its beautiful sesame seed bun. Upon taking a peek inside I saw plenty of cheese, two pickles, ketchup & mustard, and two short strips of bacon. The bacon didn't look too shabby either. Many burger chains use what I have come to call "see through bacon" which are strips of bacon that are so incredibly thin, you can practically see through them. I also noticed a toasted bun which is always a good thing.
I must say however, my appetite was immediately curbed after a few bites in, when I took a closer look at the backside of the patty. What the heck was up with the pockmarks? The logical part of my brain told me they had to be a result of cooking, but then again.. I've never personally grilled a burger that looked like this. It was very off putting, and I tried not to think about it too much as I continued eating.
As for taste, I struggled to find any flavor from the hamburger patty. I was ready for some flame broiled goodness to shine through, but it never happened. The taste of the meat was totally overpowered by the pickle and ketchup. A Whopper will definitely deliver that flame broiled wallop of taste, but there simply wasn't enough meat on this burger to deliver the same effect.
Burger #2 - BK Rodeo Burger - $1.00Again, another good looking burger at first glance. This sandwich consists of a hamburger patty, barbecue sauce, and onion rings. A straight forward burger that should in all rights provide a nice fusion of flavor.
Again.. the burger presented the same type of pockmarks that the other burger had. As for taste, I was immediately hit with a nice smoky barbecue sauce that ended up drowning out the flavor of the burger altogether. The sandwich sports an incredibly small patty that easily gets lost in the end. There was entirely too much barbecue sauce on this burger, which even drowned out the taste of the onion rings.
In the spirit of being objective, I showed a picture of the pockmark patty to a friend at work to see if it looked odd to him. He was just as put off by it as I was. In fact, two days later.. he told me that the image was now burned into his brain.
The very first thing I noticed when biting into this burger, was the taste of the beef. It was actually present, and tasted great. There was a wee bit too much ketchup for my taste, but it didn't ruin the overall taste by any means. This Wendy's bun wasn't as visually appealing as Burger King's, and was a bit more dense as well. The onion and cheese tasted great, and the bread to meat ratio was spot on. A simple and tasty burger, at a great price.
Burger #2 - Junior Bacon Cheeseburger $1.69
Before taking my first bite of this burger, I opened it up to see what it had to offer under the hood. I was incredibly happy to see real thick-cut applewood smoked bacon, rather than the industry standard of weak and thin cut slices. The hamburger patty again tasted great, and didn't get lost in the mix of ingredients on this sandwich. The cheese and bacon are definitely the stars of this burger, and the tomato, mayo, and lettuce nicely round everything out. Again, the bun wasn't much to look at, but tasted good in the end.
DAY 3 - MCDONALD'S
Burger #1 - Double Cheeseburger 1.69
The double cheeseburger sports two slices of cheese, ketchup, mustard, diced onions, and pickles. Strangely, I like the re-hydrated chopped onions.. but that's just me. The meat didn't seem to have all that much flavor, and it actually needed the cheese and onions to help it along. As you can see, the bun was toasted, which I'm always a fan of. Nothing about this burger "wowed" me. It seemed like a run of the mill mass produced burger. It wasn't bad, I just didn't tick any of the boxes that make me say "Mmmm.. this is a darn good burger!"
Burger #2 - McDouble $1.49
I don't need to go into too much detail on this burger for one reason. This burger only has one slice of cheese, versus the two slices the double cheeseburger has. Other than that, the two sandwiches were identical. The taste of the meat did shine through a bit more on this burger, which didn't necessarily do it any favors. The hamburger patties just tasted bland to me, and very much needed to rely on the other ingredients to help it along.
I will say this however, these were not unpleasant to eat. And.. if you're looking for burgers on a budget that will fill up your tank, the Double Cheeseburger and McDouble will definitely do the trick. These two guys were definitely the most filling burgers I ate during this taste test.
And the winner of my taste test is..
Wendy's Junior Bacon Cheeseburger!
At $1.69 it ties with McDonald's Double Cheeseburger as being the most expensive of the six burgers I tried. That being said, it's all about quality rather than quantity with this burger. I'm not a big fry guy, and usually opt for an extra burger in place of the french fries. That being said, two great tasting burgers for under $4.00 is a heck of a deal in my book. Rest assured that the next time I'm craving a quality burger on a budget, Wendy's is where I will be going.