In-N-Out Burger, McDonald's Fries and a Wendy's Frosty: Finding the Fast Food Trifecta in Paradise Valley

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

The Guilty Pleasure: Fast Food Trifecta Location: Tatum & Cactus Price: About seven bucks. What It Really Costs: Burning extra fossil fuel. What could be more American than that?

I wish I could explain my fascination with fast food. It must be the instant gratification. Or maybe that it's the purest expression of the simple fact that salt, fat, and sugar all make things delicious. A long-time favorite version of the trio comes from Wendy's. Their Frosty is ubiquitous to the point that I feel like I'm doing something wrong if I don't at least get a tiny one. And, once the Frosty is on the plate (who am I kidding, I mean the paper-lined tray), the natural thing to do with it is to dip one's fries in it.

See Also: The Vegan Burger at Pig & Pickle is Terrific... And Even Better With Bacon. Battle of the Scottsdale Green Chile Cheeseburgers

If people haven't heard of it, it's a confusing idea. Fries and ice cream aren't a natural combination, after all. But it just works; it's a juxtaposition of contrasts. Hot and cold, salty and sweet, crisp and soft. There's just one problem.

Wendy's fries suck.

No matter what the top brass at Wendy's tries to do with the recipe, they always come out as rather sad little potato sticks. I feel like there must be a better way. Then, like a bolt from the blue, I had an idea that I'm genuinely surprised I didn't have decades sooner.

Ask your average Joe on the street who makes the best french fries, and the answer is almost unanimous: McDonald's. They literally have french fries down to a science. There are precious few places I know off the top of my head that do better fries than McD's. So, for the ultimate fry-and-frosty combo, all you need to do is find a McDonald's and a Wendy's that are within spitting distance of each other.

This is all well and good, but as I was discussing this article with some folks at work, I realized that this is missing something: A main course. Between Wendy's and McDonald's, Wendy's is by far the better choice. But again, I felt like I could do a little better. Then it hit me.

Tatum and Cactus.

There's a McDonald's just off one corner, a Wendy's just off another corner, and across the street from Wendy's... In-N-Out Burger. In my humble (but correct) opinion, the best burger in the entire fast food industry. Julia Child and Thomas Keller are but two of their many noteworthy fans. Bring on the Animal Style Double-Double!

There's a bit of a trick to getting everything together as hot and fresh as possible. You need two people. One person has a seat on the In-N-Out patio, while the person with the car keys gets busy. First stop is Wendy's since the Frosty can sit longer than the fries. When the person waiting at In-N-Out sees the car pull away from Wendy's en route to McDonald's, they walk inside to order burgers. By the time the burgers are done, the car should be pulling up with a perfectly softened Frosty and piping hot McDonald's fries.

I feel a little OCD coming up with this game plan. But, I think if you're in the area, it's worth a shot. Even if you live across town, at least try McDonald's fries in a Wendy's Frosty. You'll be glad you did.

Follow Chow Bella on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.