As I write in this week's review of El Pollo Loco
, fast food is rarely a subject (or target, if you like) of my restaurant criticism. Throughout my childhood and adolescence, however, I ate the hell out of some fast food, and I'd be lying if I said there weren't certain dishes I would eat right now
if you put them in front of me, without any concern for my health, the food's sustainability, etc., etc. In this week's edition of List Mania!, I present five of those dishes, in no particular order.
Tellingly, perhaps, Burger King, where my younger self did the most fast-food damage, is absent from this list.
The Sausage Egg McMuffin, McDonald's
I don't know what spices McDonald's puts in its sausage patty -- hell, I don't even know if it's actual pork in there -- but it might as well be cocaine because no matter how many times I see the remains of the Sausage Egg McMuffin I just wolfed down, the greased-soaked paper with a splooge of half-melted American cheese still stuck to it, I want another.
By the way, to forestall the inevitable carping: Yes, I'm fully aware that's not a Sausage Egg McMuffin pictured above. Couldn't find a fair-use photo of a Sausage Egg McMuffin. You know why? Because if you had a Sausage Egg McMuffin in front of you, you wouldn't stop to take a damn picture.
The Spicy Chicken Sandwich, Wendy's
This is a sentimental favorite: When my wife and I started dating, fast food and Hamburger Helper were about all we could afford. There was a Wendy's fairly close to where both of us lived in Iowa City, and the Spicy Chicken Sandwich was my go-to meal there. Whenever we drove from Iowa City to visit St. Louis, we always stopped at the same Wendy's in Hannibal, so the sandwich is also tied into our falling in love with this city. Of course, not long after our arrival, all the local Wendy's shuttered. Nevertheless, we stayed. And, like Jesus Christ risen from the grave, Wendy's eventually returned.
French Fries, Wendy's
Actually, this one isn't mine. I'm indifferent to the fries at Wendy's. But my wife is obsessed. Specifically, she's obsessed with the salt at Wendy's, which she claims has some kind of magical power that makes it cling to the fries more, uh, clingily than other salt, making the fries saltier and, thus, tastier. Sounds like junk science to me.
Burger and Fries, Five Guys Burgers and Fries
Fact: If you totaled the IQs of the eponymous five guys, the result would be over 1,000. That's how genius this place is. Oh, and there are free peanuts.
The Frisco Melt, Steak 'n Shake
You can have your Bloody Mary or slinger or raw egg. This is my sure-fire hangover cure -- preferably eaten directly from the environmentally-unfriendly to-go packaging. Sometimes, I wonder whether I overindulge just so I have an excuse to make a Steak 'n Shake run the next morning. Then again, I'm sober now -- honest -- and if you put this in front of me, damn skippy I would eat it.