Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Would You Like Something You Can't Have With That?

Place: Taco Bueno
Lunch: Big Freaking Taco (no romato), Mucho Nachos (no tomato), Pepsi

Nobody makes better fast food nachos than Taco Bueno.  A big plate of beef, beans, chili sauce, nacho cheese, and sour cream.  And tomatoes if you want them.  None of that nonsense like avacados, guac, pico, whole black beans.  None of it.  Go to a fancy bar if you want that crap.  Wife #1 agreed...they were her favorite too.

One thing that is surprisingly consistent with this particular Taco Bueno is the number of times I hear customers ordering things that are no longer on the menu.  Sometimes for years.  But it seems to happen every time I'm here.  But something happened to me today that's never heappened here or anywhere else that I can recall...the counter guy actually offered me a menu item they didn't have, and couldn't produce.

Me: "Big Freaking Taco, no tomato..."

Counter Guy: "Beef, chicken, or steak?"


I had NO idea this was an option.

"Beef," I say.  BUT...I'll take a steak one too."

I mean, why not try it, right?

 "No tomato on that one too?"


I finish ordering and get my drink, salsa, and what not.  I catch up on Twitter while waiting what seems like forever for my food because this location is slow at doing anything even on a slow day, and they're busy today.

I get my food, unwrap the first taco (happens to be the beef one) and chow down.  It's quite awhile later when I grab the steak one.

But it's immediately apparant this isn't going to be what it's supposed to be.  It's limp, like a soft taco.  It's a Muchaco, Taco Bueno's version of a Chalupa.  (It may actually pre-date the Chalupa.)  Also, it has chicken in it.

I take it back to the counter.  A girl from the back appears.

Me: "This is supposed to be a steak Big Freaking Taco, but it's a chicken Muchaco."

"We don';t have steak," she says flatly.  "Do you want something else?"

"Then why is the cashier offering it up as an option?:"

She just shrugs.

I'm so dumbfounded, I just turn and go back to my table and finish my nachos.  She eventually comes around to my table and mutters "Here's a refund" and drops money.

The receipt she printed for the refund shows exactly what i ordered...a steak Big Freaking Taco.  But if they don't have steak, why is this even an option in the register?  There's nothing on the menu that includes steak, thus my surprise when the guy offered it up.

And what food maker looks at the screen, sees a crispy taco with steak in it, and thinks "I'll just give him a completely different menu item with a completely different meat instead"?


Took a five-day weekend to go to an out-of-town concert last night, where I proved that, stamina-wise, I'm still a long way from being me again.

Not that I'll ever be me again.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Danged Chickens

Place: Burger King
Lunch: Crispy Chicken with bacon and cheese, onion rings, soda water

BK has a new chicken sandwich probably designed to try and grab some market share from the massive following that Chick-Fil-A has.  While a vast improvement on the oblong inferior Chicken Tendercrisp (which is still available), this isn't going to do it.

I've had three of these since they launched.  The first was cooked to order and was wonderful.  The other two, one of which was the cheddar-bacon-ranch variety, weren't because the chicken and bacon had that "pre-cooked and sitting in a warming bin for way too long" taste to them.  The cheese was cold, had no melt to it at all.  Bleh.

But even the cooked-to-order one wasn't quite on the level of Chick-Fil-A.

Also upping its chicken sandwich game is KFC.  They have a new "Zinger" chicken sandwich.  That one's way tastier.  The chicken has an extra crispy coating and a really great spicy seasoning.  They should rightly sell a bajillion of them but probably won't because Chick-Fil-A is so good at what they do, their fans have no reason to even think of going elsewhere.  Also, while it's great, it feels like a completely different product.

In other chicken news, I may get to try Slim Chickens this weekend.  That's one of those chicken tender chains.  They opened their first Wichita store this week.

Wait...isn't it National Burger Month?

Danged chickens.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Orange Drink

Place: McDonald's
Lunch: Big Mac, fries, Hi-C Orange Lavaburst

This is one of the ugliest McDonald's locations in the history of the chain, thanks to an arrogant idiotic city council who demanded the building have a specific facade and appear more conservative to blend in with neighboring buildings than the mansard McDonald's buildings of the era.  It's almost like the McDonald's building team got spiteful and designed this as a testament to blandness on purpose.  Well played, McDonald's.  Well played.  There's an equally sad Burger King across the street that looks like it was trying to blend in with a Mennonite community.  Then there's a Taco John's one building away from it that looks like...every Taco John's ever built, proving the city council is a bunch of hypocrites.

Me: "Medium Big Mac combo."

Elderly Counter Guy: "Small, medium, or large?"

A LOT of people are ordering all-day breakfast for some reason.  And they mostly seem to want stuff that isn't actually on the all-day breakfast menu.  One woman did a hybrid order to satisfy her four kids, some getting burgers, some getting breakfast.  So I guess that's all working out.

When it comes to the McDonald's menu, you can't go wrong with the classics, right?  Well, McDonald's is taking away a classic.  McDonald's is replacing the "orange drink" from it's available soft drink options to make way for some sort of new tropical Sprite flavor exclusive to McDonalds.

Fans aren't happy.  Not quite "New Coke" level unhappy, but unhappy enough.  Can you ever remember a time when you couldn't get the sugary (sorry...high fructose corn syrupy) non-carbonated orange non-soda at every McDonald's in North America?  No you can't, because it's been there since the McDonald brothers converted their barbecue drive-in stand into their namesake walk-up and order burger stand.  They were making their own out of blemished oranges they were able to buy on the cheap from local sources...perfectly fine for juicing but not pretty for grocery store sales.  Granted, the stuff they were serving was different than the generic "orange drink" mainstay at the national outlets later replaced by the essentially identical Hi-C branded version, but it's always been there in one form or another.  And it's always been in my regular drink rotation.

It's not a New Coke-level tragedy because, whereas Coke actually discontinued their original cola, you can still get Orange Lavaburst juice boxes at pretty much any supermarket or even on the taps of other fast food chains.  My local Hardee's has it.  Burger King could jump all over this and make sure it's in all their restaurants and do a national promotion.  (I think BK's with the Coke Freestyles have it, but the ones with standard fountains tend to have Hi-C Fruit Punch instead.  In fact, any restaurant with Coke Freestyle machines likely has it.)

While the official launch date of the new drink is today, franchisees can continue selling the orange stuff until they run out of existing supply, the Coke tech guy shows up to change the taps, or I think July 1 if I read correctly.  This location obviously still has it, on two taps, no less.  Why can't one tap become the new stuff and the other have the orange goodness?  Who knows.

If you ask me, this is probably the dumbest move McDonald's has made since replacing the Filet-O-Fish with the Arch Deluxe version years ago.  A move they obviously reversed.

But nobody asks me.