Fast Food Nation

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By Mike Shea

I’ve always loved fast food. I go to McDonald’s for the Big Mac, Burger King for the Chicken Tendercrisp, and Wendy’s for the Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger and 5-piece nuggets. I like fast food at almost anytime of day, but tend to stick to Dunkin’ Donuts for breakfast, but will occasionally mix in a coffee from McDonalds McCafe.

If anybody is qualified to review fast food joints based on consumption of their products, it would be me!

In New England, where I spent the first 21 years of my life, these were the options: BK, McDonalds, Wendy’s, Dunkin’ Donuts and the occasional Taco Bell. I love them all, but I’ve been ready for something different for quite some time.

I have spent this past semester in Los Angeles, far away from Bean Town and the delicious taste of Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee. But, with the loss of Dunkin’ Donuts came a whole new mix of fast food restaurants that I couldn’t wait to try.

There is Jack In The Box, Del Taco, Carl’s Jr, and the infamous In N Out Burger. I had heard tales of In N Out for many years and had waited for my first taste of their classic double-double, which I finally tasted upon arrival in LA.

So without further ado, my grades for the West Coast fast food restaurants that I have tried.

Jack In The Box

Rating: Okay

I got the buffalo chicken mini sliders, which were good, not great. The best or worst part of Jack In The Box, depending on how you look at it, is their menu selections. They have a huge menu, including 24-hour breakfast, which may be their strongest point-of-difference when being compared to other chains. But they also have burgers, chicken, fish, salads, bowls (Steak/Chicken Teriyaki, Southwest Chicken, etc), and desserts. All of these sound wonderful, but this multitude of menu offerings gives Jack In The Box a lack of true identity. Their ads suggest that they want to be known for their 24 hour breakfast, but they also offer teriyaki bowls; for some reason this doesn’t sit well with me.

So, for this reason and the fact that their food didn’t excite me at all, I give them a B-. They are decent, nothing special, and I have no real reason to go back unless I’m craving brinner (breakfast for dinner).

Del Taco

Rating: Not very good at all.

I got a couple of spicy chicken soft tacos and a regular hard shell taco, and I was disappointed. I didn’t make it through the whole meal, and that’s saying something. Taco Bell usually gives me a mini stomach ache, but it’s fast food, what do you expect? Del Taco didn’t leave me with a reason for ever wanting to come back, even if I were craving cheap Mexican – I would just do a Google search for the closest Taco Bell. I give them a D (plus their TV ads aren’t very good).

Carl’s Jr.

Rating: Excellent (the dark horse in this competition).

I loved my first trip there and have been back for a few more since. The Big Carl is one of the most delicious fast food burgers I’ve ever had, and that is definitely saying something. The fries are thick-cut, which is right up my alley. I have been back a couple of times and tasted some of the other burgers and they are just as good. They have a great mix of burgers and chicken sandwiches, which is all I look for in a fast food restaurant. The price is also one of my favorite things about Carl’s. The meals are cheaper than that of McDonalds or Burger King, which is great for anyone, including a college student. I give Carl’s an A-, because I was so pleasantly surprised by the deliciousness of the Big Carl.

In ‘N Out Burger

Rating: Good.

Everyone that comes to the West Coast wants to try In N Out. All of my friends told me how delicious it was and that I’d totally love it. I was so hyped to try it for the first time and when I did, I have to say I was disappointed. Yes, it’s good, might even say it’s great, but with all of the hype I was expecting a taste explosion. I love the fact that they cut their fries in store and their burgers are supposedly healthier than the average fast food place, but I didn’t get weak in the knees like I was hoping. I know I may see quite a bit of backlash from this review, but I stand by what I’m saying. In N Out has done a great job with their marketing, I love the “secret menu,” and the fact that they have been so successful with such a small menu, but I don’t get it. I honestly think it’s the “cool” fast food place to go to, and that’s why it has been such a success. The one thing I did love was the milkshakes, they are superb. With all that being said, I’ll give In N Out a B+. They are good but not as good as they were hyped up to be, which brings them down in my book.

If you’ve had a different experience and would like to chime in, sound out in the comments!

Image: VirtualErn

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