A Hamburger Today
Fast Food: Breakfast at Whataburger (or, 'Whatabreakfast')
Note: Don't call it a comeback / I've been here for years. I've been writing a soda column with Carey Jones while my LDL level returned to a more normal state for my age, but am back with a fast food dispatch from down south.
It's hard for me to call Whataburger's breakfast anything but "Whatabreakfast"; really, why don't they market it as that? The burger chain is wildly popular in Texas, and just about every friend I asked before my week-long trip there told me to stop in. But my buddy Dave Blend (an editor at Thrilllist) went one step further, singing the praises of their breakfast menu. "You can't do Texas without Whataburger's breakfast taquitos."
And in a smart recognition of when you actually want to be eating piles of bacon and cheesy eggs, you can get breakfast at Whataburger from 11pm to 11am. None of this McDonald's 10:30 bullshit.
It's an impressively long menu, ranging from pastries to the aforementioned tacos, but you've got to go for a breakfast sandwich: here, the "Breakfast on a Bun." I've found some of Whataburger's buns to be a little overly "buttered," to an extent that they taste like movie theater popcorn; but here, it was just fine, cradling pork sausage, egg, and cheese. I found their sausage crisp and peppery, like Jimmy Dean, and their egg, which was done over-hard, not nearly as rubbery as those on other breakfast sandwiches can be.
The Hash Brown Sticks were amazing, in that they're basically rectangular tater tots: crispy, crunchy fried outside; warm, moist potato bits inside. Higher potato-to-fry ratio than McDonald's, but without lame, underseasoned potato insides, like some can be (cough, cough, Wendy's).
After the breakfast sandwich, the Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit, a chicken strip with honey butter sauce on a biscuit, was a bit of a letdown. The chicken was really meaty and not too salty or overly breaded, like a thick tender; but the artificial butter-tasting honey butter was totally dominant and difficult to stomach. The biscuit was appealingly crumbly, and certainly better than plenty of other fast food biscuits I've had, but lacked any real flavor at all. Finally, their Cinnamon Roll was unpleasantly dry. I prefer a more gooey, moist roll. Come on, fast food joints; if Cinnabon can do it, you can, too.
It was hard to bring myself to order the breakfast taquitos. The occasion of our Texas visit was Carey's taco tour of the state... and after about 140+ tacos, the last thing you want is a poor fast-food imitation. But these weren't the worst tacos we had in Texas; not by a long shot. Whataburger has some amazing bacon, in the context of the fast-food world: thick and crispy, not limp and practically transparent. The eggs were well-seasoned and fluffy enough, like at a cafeteria brunch; they ensure the cheese comes out melted, not a cold Kraft square like McDonald's does.
Will you find the best breakfast tacos in Texas, or the best chicken biscuit? Of course not; but for a cheap, satisfying breakfast, you could do a lot worse than Whata. Especially at, say, three in the morning.