The Better Burger Joint

Remember the great taco run we did over the 4th of July weekend last year? It is linked here if you don’t. I swore I would never participate in another taste test review but guess what . . . yup, you guessed it . . . we did another one.

This one stemmed from arguments about the best burger chains and which ones were the worst. Frankly, I don’t have an opinion since I don’t eat red meat and fast food isn’t my thing in general but after a friendly, elevated (in terms of speaking volume) conversation, it was determined that the best way to settle the debate amongst ourselves would require the dreaded taste test review.

Here are the basic facts: The first claim was that we needed to evaluate the chain as a whole meaning we would get the trio of burger, fries and shake. The second was that it had to be a fast food chain. No restaurants or “mom and pop” places could be judged. Third, the burgers all had to have the same elements of beef, cheese and veggies. The fries had to be basic regular fries (sorry curly fries, you are out) and the shake had to be vanilla. We didn’t want to end up picking a flavor that we couldn’t get everywhere and chocolate can mask flavor (plus one in our group gets migraines from chocolate). It also had to be eaten immediately upon receiving so that we could be fair in the categories of temperature and appearance.

There were four of us doing the judging on the first day and five of us doing the judging on the second day. It was conducted over back-to-back days (hence why this is so hard to do and not start hating it). We traveled a distance of 250 miles (give/take) so that we were trying different area locations. We gave no location a heads up that we were judging their food to make sure that we were receiving items how they were being prepared for everyone else. We order one of each item and everyone had to have at least one bite/sip in order to make a determination. Finally, I did try all the burgers even with my no red meat stance and I have no bias to location since I never visit any of these establishments on my own.

Please remember that the ratings are the opinions of 4-5 people (we are not professionals) but we encourage you to conduct your own taste test with family or friends. What we found was that places, some we would frequent in the past, we don’t want to frequent anymore, some places were better at certain things and not others, and some places (while scoring high)–were not worth the wait.

The chains that were part of the taste test were – Burger King, Burgerville, Carl’s Jr., Dairy Queen, Five Guys, In & Out, Jack in the Box, McDonald’s, and Wendy’s.

The BURGERS were judged in 8 categories (best 3 in each category in order of ranking)

  1. Overall Appearance (Burgerville/In & Out (tie), Wendy’s/Carl’s Jr. (tie), Jack in the Box)
  2. Temperature (Five Guys, Wendy’s, Burgerville)
  3. Patty Size (In & Out, Jack in the Box, Burger King)
  4. Quality/Taste of Meat (In & Out, Burgerville, Wendy’s)
  5. Quality/Taste of Vegetables (Burgerville, In & Out, Wendy’s)
  6. Ease of Handling (Dairy Queen, Jack in the Box, Burgerville)
  7. Signature Sauce/(Mayo-Ketchup-Mustard) Trilogy (In & Out, Dairy Queen, McDonald’s)
  8. Quality/Taste of Bun (In & Out, Jack in the Box, Burgerville)

The OVERALL BEST BURGERS were (1-5 scale):

  1. In & Out at 4.25
  2. Burgerville at 3.75
  3. Wendy’s at 3.56

The FRIES were judged in 3 categories (best 3 in each category in order of ranking)

  1. Crispiness (Burgerville, Jack in the Box, Burger King)
  2. Temperature (Burgerville, Five Guys, McDonald’s)
  3. Saltiness (Five Guys, In & Out, Burgerville)

The OVERALL BEST FRIES were (1-5 scale):

  1. Burgerville at 4.75
  2. Five Guys at 4.17
  3. McDonald’s at 4.00

The SHAKES were judged in 3 categories (best 3 in each category in order of ranking)

  1. Thickness/Drinkability (Dairy Queen, Five Guys, Wendy’s)
  2. Flavor (Wendy’s, Five Guys, In & Out)
  3. Consistency (Dairy Queen, Five Guys, McDonald’s)

The OVERALL BEST SHAKES were (1-5 scale):

  1. Five Guys at 4.75
  2. Dairy Queen at 4.67
  3. Wendy’s at 4.50

Final outcome on ranking for the FULL COMBO of Burger, Fries and Shake . . .

  1. In & Out at 4.05
  2. Burgerville at 3.70
  3. Wendy’s at 3.39
  4. Five Guys at 3.34
  5. McDonald’s at 3.16
  6. Dairy Queen at 3.05
  7. Jack in the Box at 2.75
  8. Carl’s Jr. at 2.39
  9. Burger King at 2.21