Ah, the dollar menu -- the primary source of sustenance for many a student and hobo. Each has its own strong points, but all that we visited had one thing in common: a cheeseburger. (For argument's sake, we are defining "burger" as any roll-based sandwich featuring an ingredient restaurants self-identify as beef.)
As a nod to multiculturalism, Taco Bell's 99-cent soft taco also make an appearance in this buck burger round-up, which is organized by order of preference.
5. McDonald's cheeseburger
|Saddest little guy.|
Anyone with more than a passing acquaintance with the low end of the McDonald's menu knows the pricing makes less sense than a pedal-powered wheelchair -- which could be a good thing: The cheeseburger (one patty, one slice of cheese) is 99 cents, the McDouble (two patties, one slice of cheese) is $1, and the double cheeseburger (two patties, two slices of cheese) is $1.29, which basically equates to an extra patty costing a penny and an extra slice of cheese costing 30 cents. Unless you're upgrading a regular hamburger (89 cents), in which case a slice of cheese costs a dime.
So you can double the meat for a PENNY. It baffles this reporter why anyone wouldn't do that.
And the patty is so small you can't see it in the bun; the onion smush tastes poorly. Combine that with a shovelful of ketchup and a few pickles and you have a burger that is wholly unappealing. Luckily, mine was served on a sesame seed bun, which gave it a slight lift.
4. Taco Bell soft taco
|Lovingly put together over the course of about 20 minutes, while some guy stole drinks from next to the unattended cash register.|
Yes, a 99-cent soft taco is a better cheeseburger than a McDonald's cheeseburger. It has shredded cheese, lettuce and the Bell's notorious "beef," but at least they bothered to season it.
Half of the justification for its presence above the cheeseburger is that no one would be disappointed to see it if they were expecting a McDonald's cheeseburger. The other half of the justification is that it really doesn't matter. It's tasty.
It should be noted, though, that if you don't eat it immediately, the grease will soak into the tortilla and turn parts of the wrapper transparent, which is only gross if you think about it.
3. McDonald's McDouble
|Tastes like ketchup, as dense as a black hole. (Remiiiind you of anyone?)|
There was much debate over whether this $1 double burger should be bumped up to number two because it's so filling, but it was ultimately decided that feeling like a beef dumbbell is not the only factor to be considered. If you're just looking to be full, the McDouble is the way to go, but it's hard to tell if it fills you up by being a lot of food -- these things have the habit of arriving dripping in something that resembles water.
An upside: there are a ridiculous 22 grams of protein
in one of these things -- more than some protein workout bars
. Though don't take my word on anything nutritional; I'm sure there is a very important reason that this is not an accurate comparison.
2. Wendy's Junior Cheeseburger Deluxe
|Wendy's: For the discerning diner who only eats meat with corners.|
It's the toppings that put it up this high on the list. Unlike the other burgers, the JCD has lettuce, tomato and a slice of real onion instead of the drippy diced-onion nonsense they clump on the other burgers. It also has a little mayo, another pleasant departure from the norm.
The pickles, though, are gross. I think this may come down to personal taste -- somebody must like them, because they throw a bunch on the burger no matter how many times you ask them not to.
It's depressing that the Junior Bacon Cheeseburger was taken off the everyday value menu in favor of this thing, but it's still good, and doesn't leave you feeling quite as awful about yourself as the others.
1. Burger King single stacker
There are certainly better burgers in this world, but none for as cheap as you can get one of these puppies. It's delicious, has BACON, and tastes much closer to a real cheeseburger than any of the others on this list.
You might not realize how weird the McDonald's burgers taste until you have one of these -- it's startling, to bite into one and actually be aware that you're eating meat. The only way you realize that with a McDonald's burger is when you chip a tooth on a hunk of cow bone.
And the sauce -- oh heavens, that sauce. Say what you will about the Big Mac sauce, but the stuff they're putting on these things is heavenly. Between that and the bacon, the single stacker packs in 700 mg of sodium
, but if you're going to be sucking down dollar-menu burgers, this is definitely the way to go.