I’ve never worn cowboy boots. I’ve never ridden a horse, either. Guns terrify me. By my French friend Adam’s estimation, these facts mean I am not truly a Texan.
“I thought all Texans are like John Wayne,” Adam once said. “You got your rifle, your horse and the boots with the spurs.”
I reminded him that not all Texans are the heroic cowboys immortalized by Ford, Wayne and Eastwood. Some of us are even snowflake socialists who love things like a livable minimum wage and reliable access to water. But it turns out my lack of spurs didn’t annoy him quite as much as my lack of Whataburger experience. Apparently, even Adam, born and raised in the land of croissants, knows that the seventh wonder of the world is the honey butter chicken biscuit. Since I have abstained from indulging in Beto O’Rourke’s favorite restaurant-cum-skate park, I don’t deserve the title of “Texan.” Until now.
My wife was out for the weekend, thereby removing any trace of sanity from our home. Thus, I decided to do what any ashamed, aspiring Texan would do: eat at Whataburger for the first time. However, since I had 27 years for which to compensate, I couldn’t just do one meal. No, I had to do each meal at Whataburger for the duration of a weekend.
Here’s how that went.
I’m torn. Do I go for the gold (aka the hospital) and try the fish sandwich, or do I cling to my mental and physical health for as long as I can?
Since I’m more snowflake than John Wayne, I decide to avoid the fish. The first meal of the weekend is a grilled chicken sandwich with some fries and a Dr Pepper shake. I am initially skeptical about the shake, but I think it might be cheating to avoid some kind of dessert dish, and a Dr Pepper shake sounds better than a miniature apple pie. Also: holy shit. This Dr Pepper shake is fucking fantastic. Why hasn’t anyone done this before? Has anyone else done this before? Does Beto like it? I’m sold.
The grilled chicken sandwich is forgettable but not regrettable, and the french fries are tasty, if not quite McDonald’s-level delicious. If not for the shake, this meal would have been decidedly lackluster. But once again, Dr Pepper comes to the rescue.
Friday Night Grade: 3.75 out of 5
I’m scared. Fast food establishments aren’t exactly known for their breakfast dishes, and here at Whataburger, breakfast starts at 11 p.m. I ponder the freshness of my potato and cheese taquito as it nears my mouth in slow motion ...
It’s OK. Not terrific, mind you, but I can see how it gets the job done. The soft, fluffy potatoes complement the eggs, which have an acceptable amount of flavor. I can do without the American cheese (are substitutes possible? I’ll have to find out.) but the hash brown sticks that come with the meal are salty enough to overcome any unsavory cheese residue.
I’m saving the famed honey butter chicken biscuit for the final day of this ungodly gantlet, so I expected this morning’s grade to be a bit lower.
Saturday Morning Grade: 3.0 out of 5
Taquito cheese substitutes are not possible, the kind drive-through employee tells me while clearly wondering if I’m the same guy from breakfast. I avoid her rightfully judgmental side-eye and order a jalapeño and cheese Whataburger with fries and water (for health purposes).
I have a penchant for spicy foods, so the jalapeños suit me well. As a whole, the burger is good, but the highlight is the ketchup. Do the numbers mean something? Is No. 1 slightly sweeter than the others? Which one does Beto like the most? I still have more questions than answers, but all in all, this was a satisfying lunch.
P.S. Ketchup #3 is the best.
Saturday Lunch Grade: 4.0 out of 5
My taste buds may be revolting. My mouth went peculiarly dry at the mere sight of the orange and white, and I felt an urge to head for the nearest salad bar.
Instead, I got a salad. It wasn’t terrible, but it didn’t have any of the ingredients of my new favorite Whataburger dish: jalapeños, cheese, meat or hamburger buns.
I avoided the fries this time (again, for health purposes) but I couldn’t resist the Dr Pepper shake. It’s become my weakness, my sweet, sweet black tar heroin that every fiber of my being yearns for during the throes of a sweat-soaked nightmare.
It was still fantastic.
Saturday night grade: 1.0 out of 5 for the salad. 6.0 out of 5 for the shake.
This is it: the moment I’ve been thinking about when I wake up in the middle of the night and question all of my life choices. I’m about to try the honey butter chicken biscuit.
Honestly, it’s just OK. I can’t tell if my body is in full rebellion mode or this famed biscuit is simply a touch overrated. Maybe I’m depressed. At any rate, this dish is solid, but not life-changing. The flaky biscuit and smooth honey butter are delectable, but the chicken itself is a bit much. Its thick, breaded texture doesn’t quite work with the honey butter as well as I hoped it would.
Meanwhile, I’m hearing whispers from the folks manning the registers. They seem to be concerned about my well-being, which is fair. There are talks of “calling someone,” and I might even hear the word “intervention.” Later, I realize that it was all in my head, and no one is coming to help. I am utterly alone on this high-caloric planet.
Sunday Morning Grade: 3.0 out of 5
Writing hard. Burger good. Highly recommend Whataburger Jr. for people unsure of what body can handle.
Sunday Lunch Grade: 2 stars out of 2 thumbs up
My wife has returned. She is mad. I remind her about the “in sickness and in health” part of our wedding vows, but she gives me a withering, how-dare-you look that chills me to the bone. The woman who loves me is not happy about my consuming nothing but Whataburger for a weekend. I remind her that I got water for lunch on Saturday, but she is still furious. There’s only one way to fix this: a Dr Pepper shake.
She loves it. How can you not? It’s got that subtly spicy Dr Pepper kick that we all covet, and it’s thick enough without being too filling. One sip, and all is forgiven. I have the honey BBQ chicken strip sandwich, and it’s the perfect end to the weekend. The Texas toast and Monterey Jack melt in my mouth and make me forget about the existence of that offensive American cheese that plagued that long-ago breakfast. It’s clear I saved the best for last.
Sunday Morning Grade: 5 out of 5 (for the food and the company)
On a related note, does anyone know a good salad and/or juice place?
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