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[Photo: Robyn Lee]

One dollar doesn't buy you much anymore. (I don't even put dollar bills in my wallet these days; I just stuff them in my pocket with the quarters and dimes.) Inflation has worked its magic, to the point where a dollar doesn't buy you the burgers it used to. Still, there are good deals to be found on various dollar menus.

John's Dollar Menu Favorites

For my money, the place to go value-wise is Wendy's. Their $0.99 Everyday Value Menu features some of the strongest options; in the one-dollar burger department, theirs is the best. The Doublestack, effectively a double junior hamburger with cheese, costs only $0.99. I've always found their meat ends up tasting much better than either BK or McDonald's, and when you're talking about classic toppings only (ketchup, mustard, cheese, pickles), burger quality really counts. It's fresh grilled meat (a little saltier than the competition) and it's delicious.

You can also order a small Frosty for a dollar—easily my favorite fast-food shake. It's not quite a milkshake, not quite soft-serve, and tastes great on French Fries. The Spicy Chicken Nuggets cost under a buck, too, with the same spice as the Spicy Chicken Sandwich; I've also found that the inside of these nuggets looks a little more like white meat than whatever the McNuggets are made out of. (I recommend eating them without sauce; Wendy's barbeque sauce tastes way too sweet.)

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Though McDonald's Dollar Menu isn't what it used to be, you can still get two Apple Pies for $1—and more often than not, they're flaky and hot. We all know the sugar dusted crust and the apple-cinnamon gel interior. I don't want to think about what's actually in it, but if you can stand the sweet, it's delicious.

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Taco Bell's Beefy Crunch Burrito may not have impressed me in all ways, but it thoroughly impressed me with its value. For $1.06 after tax, I chomped into a full burrito; no thin soft taco was this.

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Though Burger King has seemed recently like it's having an existential crisis—jalapeƱo burgers?—I'd be happy if they just rebranded themselves "Fry King" and focus on what they do best.

What About Yours?

Any other dollar-menu items you guys love? What about at some of the regional chains?

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