Editor's Note: Ken Hoffman brings his popular Drive-Thru Gourmet column to CultureMap. Look each week for his review of the latest fast-food dining options.
This week I reached out for a 3-pack of Pizza Sliders – think mini-slices of pepperoni pie on a bun – at America’s No. 2 sandwich shack, Arby’s, with 3,300 restaurants coast to coast, top and bottom.
Pizza Sliders are Arby’s “take on pizza,” and boy are we lucky. Because no matter how hard you search, it’s practically impossible to find a Pizza Hut, Dominos or Papa John’s today.
Except on every corner.
Here’s the Pizza Sliders breakdown: Genoa salami, pepperoni, melted provolone cheese and roasted garlic marinara sauce on a warm, soft slider bun.
Total calories: 300. Fat grams: 17. Sodium: 930 mg. Carbs: 23 g. Dietary fiber: 1. Protein: 13 g.
Manufacturer’s suggested retail price: $1.49. If your Arby’s has “happy hour,” Pizza Sliders are only a buck between 2-5 p.m.
There are so many reasons why Pizza Sliders at Arby’s is a dumb idea. Let’s start with … Arby’s is where you go for fast food roast beef sandwiches. The slogan is “We have the meats,” not “We have the pizza.” Drive-thru rule of thumb: order what’s on the sign out front. KFC: fried chicken. Burger King: burgers. IHOP: the P.
The geniuses in Arby’s product development have a weird idea of what makes a pizza. Genoa salami isn’t exactly a Top 10 pizza topping. And where’d they get provolone cheese on a pizza? As Alex Trebek would say, “Sorry, we were looking for mozzarella.”
If Arby’s wanted to imitate a pizza, how about a toasted, crunchy, charred-on-the-edges ciabatta roll instead of a soft slider bun?
But here’s the devil in those details. As wrong as its parts are, the finished product is really tasty. It works. If everybody else in the office is ordering Arby’s, Pizza Sliders will satisfy your pizza addiction. That kicky marinara isn't Arby's same old dipping sauce for mozzarella sticks.
Maybe I’ll stop off at Arby’s after work tonight and order a half-dozen Pizza Sliders. I'll eat three on the way home, and polish off the rest after the game on TV.
Pizza Sliders are No. 8 in Arby’s sliders collection. The others are: Buffalo Chicken, Corned Beef ‘n Cheese, Roast Beef, Roast Beef ‘n Cheese, Jalapeno Roast Beef, Ham ‘n Cheese and Chicken ‘n Cheese. They’re one price fits all.
While sliders, by legend, are small, Arby’s has another new item that may require your weekend “eating pants” – the Half-Pound Roast Beef ‘n Cheese Sandwich. It’s two layers of Arby’s flagship roast beef and two layers of gooey American cheese.
To give you an idea how hefty this meat monster is, a regular Roast Beef ‘ Cheese is 5.4 ounces total weight. A Double is 8.4 ounces. I know that doesn’t add up, but, hey, you want to do math homework, or you want to eat?
A Half-Pound Roast Beef ‘n Cheese Sandwich, bread, cheese et. al. tips the scales at 10.4 ounces.
Now for a personal complaint. This week, I made an Arby’s run to taste-test the Pizza Sliders. I went online for the Arby’s closest to my summer house (it’s also my winter house). Hey, not bad, there’s an Arby’s at 8611 Westheimer, near Fondren. That’s 15 miles roundtrip, thank you Mapquest, pushing my bicycle limit, but maybe I’ll break even on the calories if I pedal there.
When I got to 8611 Westheimer … no Arby’s. It’s been closed for a couple of years.
New rule: when a fast food restaurant shuts down, the company has to go online and make sure that no website still has it as open. I rode home, and drove to the Arby’s on Hwy. 6 in Sugar Land. Whew, made it in time for happy hour.
Ken Hoffman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter: @KenCultureMap. To have all CultureMap stories, including Ken's columns, delivered to your inbox in one Daily Digest every morning, sign up here.