If you can't change the burger, change the bun. That's seemingly been the mantra of the many fast-food chains that have, since last year, banished their buns in lieu of toast, delivering a menu of melted fare to those suffering from burger boredom.
Is the melt mode here to stay? Fry Girl's decided to dump the bun and have a summer meltdown with some of my fast food friends to see which melts make the grade.
4. The Whataburger Any-Burger-WTF-Melt: When I asked whether the Texas chain's previous two melts, the Patty Melt and the Grilled Chicken Melt, were still available, the drive-thru box said no, but it told me I could substitute Texas toast on any of their burgers. Whata-huh? Clearly some sort of get-rid-of-the-overstock ploy. I smelled the burned bread even before I unwrapped a charred mess of toast toppling from too much meat and not enough of anything else. Don't mess with this Texas put-together.
3. Rally's Hamburgers Spicy Chicken & Cheese Melt: Where does "spicy" school-cafeteria chicken go to die? Right between two pieces of toasted sourdough bread on this new melt served by this doyen of the double drive-thru. Replacing the Toasted Spicy Queso Melt, this chicken and cheese melt mockery is like eating a lukewarm chunk of caulk rolled in Lawry's Seasoned Salt. Part of its "More for Less" menu, this melt isn't worth the change under your couch cushions.
2. Carl's Jr. Single Grilled Cheese Bacon Burger: Billing this sandwich as having "all the comfort and deliciousness of the grilled cheese sandwich Mom used to make" makes Carl's Jr. a big, fat liar or my mom the greatest cook in the world — and it ain't the latter. Essentially a bacon cheeseburger between two slices of bread (they're not calling it a melt, but that's grilled bread around those patties, not a bun), the sourdough's got a good chew but doesn't work with the burger, which means little because the over-salted bacon, cheese flavor, and mayonnaise overpower the patty anyway. Take a pass.
1. Rally's Classic American Melt: The best of the worst, this melted mini-burger sports two patties and double cheese between two slices of sourdough. The taste is fair, the price is right (grab two for three bucks) and you won't feel as though you've digested a mid-size mammal.
The verdict? With fast-food's melt mode still in full swing, Fry Girl's ducking the trend and betting on the bun as the ultimate patty partner.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.