This week I reached out for a Bacon Queso Burger from the hip-to-be-square burger flipper Wendy's, with 6,500 restaurants dotting all 50 states and spreading American quickie cuisine in 30 foreign lands.
Never one to miss a trend, Wendy's is bandwagoning the queso craze with three new menu items: the Bacon Queso Burger, Bacon Queso Chicken Sandwich, and Bacon Queso Fries.
Think of queso as the new Sriracha (so last year). I picked the Bacon Queso Burger to review because burgers are what made Wendy's. You stick with the house specialty.
Here's the Bacon Queso Burger breakdown
A 1/4-pound burger is topped with warm, spicy poblano queso, three strips of Applewood-smoked bacon, fire-roasted salsa, red onions, and shredded cheddar cheese, all served on a toasted red jalapeno bun.
Total calories: 550. Fat grams: 32. Sodium: 1,140 milligrams. Carbs: 36 grams. Dietary fiber: 2 grams. Protein: 33 grams. Manufacturer's suggested retail price: $4.99.
For those who majored in literature (smart career move) because your school didn't require a foreign language, queso is just the Spanish word for cheese. But when you say it in Spanish, the cheese better be bolder and more flavorful. Wendy's version has a subtle charge of poblano, a chili pepper from down Mexico way. Not to worry, Wendy's has to please the masses — this queso won't have you gasping, "Get the fire extinguisher!"
While queso gets the star treatment, everything starts with Wendy's always fresh, never frozen, North American beef patties. Wendy's makes a heckuva burger for sure. Then comes the queso and toasted salsa ... so far, happy happy. But we're aware of Wendy's obsession with never leaving well enough alone.
Hold the onions, please
Here comes the sliced red onions. Someone in Wendy's product development must have a fetish for raw red onions ... or insider information on red onion futures. Weird, they leave off the lettuce and tomato, and keep the onions.
You know why French fries are so important to fast food chains? It's because when you open the bag, French fries are the first thing you grab. First impressions ...
In Wendy's drive-through, the second thing customers do is unwrap the burger and pick out the onion slices. Seriously, at night, the cleanup crew has to sweep up discarded onion slices littering the parking lot.
And if Wendy's is trying to hook people with kicky queso, why the boring cheddar on top? Come on, we can handle the truth and straight queso.
When I saw "red jalapeno bun," warning signs went up. Oh no, a colored bun? Didn't Burger King try red buns and black buns? They didn't do much for burger sales, but local plumbers were on call 24/7. Again, not to worry, Wendy's red buns are just a red herring — they look and taste like regular buns.
Tell 'em to hold the onions and cheddar and double up on the queso, and you've got a winner.