Friday, March 5, 2010

This Week’s Very Important Question

Busy, busy day today. 

I’m going to be out of town for the next week and I needed to leave early today, so I worked through lunch and decided to grab something from a window on the way home.

As it worked out, the only place to stop was the McDonalds in Eagle River.


I really hate McDonalds. They’re the antithesis of what food should be.  I’ve had MRE’s that are closer to a real meal than the shit McDonalds tries to pass off as food.  Today was no exception, I got a Number 11 (the “Filet O Fish Meal) with iced tea, and a “cheeseburger.”  The fish sandwich was cold, the burger was cold, the fries were cold, and the tea was sweet.   Neither the burger nor the fish sandwich had ever been hot, because the cheese square on each was completely unmelted in any way shape or form.  The fries had been hot at one time, long long ago, because they were now soggy and stale.  The tea, seriously how in the hell did I end up with sweet tea?  I watched the little screen thing as they rang it up, it said Iced Tea not Sweet Tea – and seriously here, this isn’t Alabama, we’re about as far North as is it possible to get, why would they even have sweet tea? Why? I can not tell you how much I fucking hate sweet tea.  I was on the highway before I discovered that they hadn’t managed to get a single damned thing right. 100% fail. 

I didn’t eat it and I damned sure didn’t drink that disgusting tea.

I wasn’t even particularly pissed.

Because that’s about what I expect from McDonalds.  Well that and the filthy gas-station style bathrooms. I mean, honestly, I don’t think it’s possible for McDonalds to get the order right, and so far they’ve proved me correct pretty much every single time. At least they are consistent.

One of the things about living in Alaska, I sure miss In-N-Out.  As far as fast food burgers go, they’re the very best – and ironically, In-N-Out is modeled on the original McDonald Brothers restaurant in San Bernardino, California, i.e. what McDonalds was before Ray Croc bullied the brothers out of their family business.

So, here’s your very important question: If you have to eat fast food, what do you consider the best? The most palatable? Particularly the best burger (you non-carnivores may substitute the tofu and bean sprout product of your choice).

Now, we’re not talking burgers made in a place without a drive-through.  Real burgers, hand made, charcoal grilled to perfection, smoothed in bleu cheese on a toasted bun with hand cut steak fries and an Irish Red.  We all know that the best one of those is at Henry’s in San Diego’s Gas Lamp District. There’s no question there. No, what we’re talking about here are burgers that you get from a window.  I’m partial to In-N-Out, as I’ve mentioned, I’ll eat Wendy’s if I have to, but I’m open to suggestions.

Remember, the right answer gets you a seat at the table in the shelter when the zombie apocalypse comes, the wrong answer gets you smothered in ketchup and sent out for pizza. Alone. In the Dark.

Think before you answer. It may be the last time you get to use your brain without it being covered condiments and zombie phlegm.


  1. What if I like bathing in ketchup and playing Zombie Tag?

  2. Get black olives on the pizza and extra mushrooms, and don't get no zombie goo on it.

  3. Avocado Delight and a regular size Humphrey from Counter Culture is what I get locally for fast food. If I've got to go to a chain, then Taco Bell's Cheesy Bean and Rice burrito is about all I can stomach.

  4. Well, seeing as the nearest thing approximating a fast food restaurant is 1100 kms south of here, I'll have to dig into the archives.

    Probably Popeyes in Thompson (which wasn't THE Popeyes but a greasy takeout place made in an old bus by the Burntwood River. If it had to be a place with more than one outlet then I'll go with Juniors in Winnipeg. I have no idea if either still exists.

  5. The last burger I actively sought was at Peter's Drive In in Calgary. I don't eat burgers unless they are barbied at home.

    Our Wendy's is so bad Dave had to come up (this was a while ago so it's not zombie Dave)

    videsti - wide empty spaces

    Have a safe trip

  6. Spicy chicken burrito at Hot Head's, a local chain similar to Chipotle's. Tasty stuff.

  7. I'm with you on the Double-Doubles. But, um, this? "Neither the burger nor the fish sandwich had ever been hot, because the cheese square on each was completely unmelted in any way shape or form." Are you suggesting that the square of orange plasticine on those items is an actual dairy product?

  8. Hey, if they're going to call that a burger and they're going to call that a fish - then it's not really stretching things to call the plastic square cheese.

    Just sayin'

  9. Arby's Roast Beef & Cheddar, Curly Fries w/cheddar dipping sauce & a Jamoca milkshake.

    Helps that Arby's corporate home is here in Atlanta, you never know when the CEO might walk into your unit.

    Sorry your Micky D's are bad. They're generally fairly safe around here and can be utilized in an extreme pinch.

    Just don't go to a Hardy's anywhere for any reason. Yck.

  10. Nick from the O.C.March 5, 2010 at 9:27 PM

    In-N-Out, of course. And this is not any attempt to curry favor and brownnose my way into the shelter. My family loves In-N-Out. Even the 2 year-old recognizes the logo as we drive by and whines, "Want fries, Daddy."

    Double-single (two patties, one slice cheese), animal style, add green chiles. That's me. The wife likes hers protein style. And CR likes a bun and melted cheese, i.e., "grilled cheese plain, no lettuce, no tomatoes." The 2 year-old just likes the fries.

    On other days, Chik-fil-a is a fine choice. Del Taco is the next choice.

    Taco Bell? Hate that place. And that's coming from somebody who started out at Taco Bell #47 and worked there part-time for more than 4 years. What they call cheese, ain't. And the service? Do NOT get me started.

    dystabas = opposite of utabas

  11. Definitely Arby's. Though their quality has gone downhill a lot since I first started eating their food in the 80s as a kid.

    As for actual burgers, Checker's is probably the best in my area. Also called Rally's in other parts of the country.

    I wish there was Del Taco around here. Tried them in Vegas a couple years back, definitely better than Taco Bell.

  12. Years ago, before McDonald's changed the way they did things and used to keep food under heat lamps pre-made, I was told by an insider that the way to get a good Fillet-o-Fish was to order it without tartar sauce. That way they had to put a new fish square in the fryer and the sucker would be hot. Then you ask for tartar sauce on the side.

    Dr. Phil

    blextra -- any number of awful artifical sweeteners which pretend to taste "just like sugar".

  13. I've never been to an In-N-Out, but based on your and Scalzi's high ratings of said establishment, it's definitely on my list of places to visit if I ever get out to California again.

    Sadly, I don't think anyone else can make a decent burger. Certainly not around here, and especially not if they've got a drive-thru window. They're all so incredibly disappointing. Or disgusting, depending on where you go.

    If I have to get something at a drive-thru, I go to Mo's Southwest for a burrito.

  14. Regarding the whole "fish square"/ "orange plastic sheet" controversy:

    Just how often do the words "fish" and "cheese" show up in the same recipes in real life? I mean HONESTLY! Don't go looking, 'cause I'm sure you can find them easily enough to prove some pointless point, but I just honestly don't think of fish and cheese together as a default position.

    I think that may be where the whole problem begins. McDonalds' execution may suck, but I reject the entire premise.

  15. Nathan,

    Google: recipe fish cheese
    Results 1 - 10 of about 23,800,000 for recipe fish cheese. (0.42 seconds)

    Looks like there are a lot.

    Google: recipe fish orange plastic sheet
    Results 1 - 10 of about 141,000 for recipe fish orange plastic sheet. (0.20 seconds)

    Not so many orange plastic sheet fish recipes though.

  16. Sometimes I will do the Sausage Biscut at McDonalds. If it's a long trip I might even get 2. Other than that, the last time I did a drive-up window was What-a-Burger in Houston. Double meat, no cheese, with a chocolate malt. Nothing like that here in Boston, though.

    nesses - almost a Puppeteer

  17. If I get window 'food' it's usually on a work trip where I end up in a rental car at some weird hour - an Egg McMuffin - easy to eat one-handed and hard to screw up the order. If I need over the counter or drive-in fast food there are a few good ones to choose from here - from burgers to Thai, beef to tofu.

    grains - bleats of zombie sheep

  18. timb 111

    Three of the hits on the first page of your search are discussions of why nobody serves cheese on fish.


  19. Well, I worked for Wendy's for six years from high school and when I took breaks in college (I had other jobs at college), so I'm kind of partial towards them. We made the burger patties in store every night from meat that was never frozen (or added to).

    But these later years I've found myself wanting to jump the counter and start managing the line.

    McDs, however, now gives me bloating and the squirts. So I avoid them at all costs.

  20. If we have absolutely, positively, no other choice, I'll stop at Chik-fil-A.

    Mostly because they have a reputation for treating their employees decently.

    And they have real milkshakes. I love chocolate milkshakes.

    buzzle = used to silence a bee

  21. Steak & Shake. No contest.

  22. Chipotle, hands down. Although most consider it "semi" fast food. Don't know, seems pretty darn fast to me. And it's fresh cooked and healthy, all on the grill no fat.


  23. I have to go with Chipolte, you can not beat it for fresh fast food.

    If I'm in the mood for burgers then it's always Five Guys.

  24. But does Chipotle have a drive-thru?

    Gotta be In-N-Out- preferably a Double-Double with grilled onions. If I'm really in the mood to screw with my cholestrol, I add the chocolate shake.

    dostubt- how your waistline doubles on the In-N-Out diet.

  25. In-n-Out is the best, far and away. Whataburger is the only thing I miss about living in Texas. Other than that, the landscape is pretty bleak as far as decent food from a window.

  26. My son and I had Whataburger today. Their burgers are OK, at least they taste like real burgers made from real cows. And as always, the chocolate malteds are teh awesome.

  27. Fatburger does damn good onion rings. It's hard to get good onion rings. I don't know if that counts as fast food, though, because they make you wait while they cook it.

    Five Guys ... most of my friends treat it like the Second Coming of Hamburgers, which it can't live up to, but it's good.

    There's no In&Out on the east coast as far as I can tell, so that's not something I can actually go eat.

  28. Drive up to a WINDOW to get a burger?! You mean you don't have carhops in Alaska?

    There are three 50s-style drive-in restaurants in Akron, Ohio (Swensons, Skyway, and Dilly's), and they have full fountain service as well. Yeah, like sodas and floats and malts and phosphates, in just about any flavor imaginable. Swensons has more locations, so they usually win the "best burger" whenever locals are given a survey.

  29. Car hops would get eaten by bears in Alaska, Sheila.

    And here, in the Florida panhandle where I am right now, the only carhops are at Sonic - which may be the single most revolting excuse for a burger I've ever had. I couldn't eat it, it was disgusting, and the onion rings were worse. The Carhop was cute though, in her miniskirt and roller blades.

  30. Drive up the Parks to Willow and get a burger from the Blue Bus just past the first gas station before town...

  31. Nick from the O.C.March 13, 2010 at 8:26 AM

    I don't have a comment but the verification word was too cool to pass up.

    valin = major figure in Minbari history. Part diety, part political leader, was responsible for winning the Shadow War 1,000 years ago, for creating peace among the three castes, and for laying down the basis of Minbari government that lasted for ten centuries. It was Valin who created the law that "Minbari do not kill Minbari."

    It has been said that Valin was only part Minbari, and that his "other" DNA came from an entirely different race. When the humans foolishly attacked the Minbari, in a form of racial suicide the likes of which the galaxy only rarely sees, the only thing that saved Earth was a nagging doubt in the minds of Minbari leaders that humanity might be the source of Valin's "otherness".

    Babylon 5 = best SF TV show ever. And yes, I'm including Battlestar Galactica (reboot) in that assessment.

  32. Blue Bus just past the first gas station before town

    Got it. I will do exactly that next time I'm up that way. Thanks, Anon.

  33. Nick from the O.C.March 16, 2010 at 10:57 PM

    tell me more about Henry's. I'll be in downtown SD next week. I'm guessing it will be worth my while to grab a burger there?

    sumong = ethnic identification for Sumatran/Mongols

  34. Henry's Pub is in the Gaslamp District, right in the middle of old town San Diego - of course, that's where all of the best restaurants are. You can't miss it, it's on 5th Street off Market if I remember correctly.

    Sit at one of the outside tables. You want the Bleu Cheese burger, with a Guinness or a Killians.

  35. Nick from the O.C.March 17, 2010 at 11:03 AM

    wilco. Thanks for the tip. You want pix?

    mistide = stage of the tide that gets ships stuck on sandbars. Cashiered skippers are heard to mutter about "that damn mistide."


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