Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s have introduced a few new items that, on paper, sound pretty damn good: the Philly Cheesesteak Breakfast Burrito and the Philly Cheesesteak Angus Thickburger. Now, I don’t for one second trust a fast food joint to execute a quality Philly cheesesteak. It’s just not in their interest or capability to do so. Moreover, I have a feeling the Philly Cheesesteak Angus Thickburger would only leave me craving an actual cheesesteak: soft hoagie bun, melty cheese whiz, fatty seasoned ribeye, and buttery sauteed onions. I know I’m not going to get a quality version of that at Carl’s Jr. A Philly Cheesesteak Breakfast Burrito, though? That sounds like just the type of deranged stoner food I’d love to sink my teeth into late one morning here in Los Angeles. Not too late, though—Carl’s Jr closes breakfast at 10:30 a.m.
Breakfast burritos have always felt like too much of one thing. While I appreciate the utility of holding a big ol’ tortilla neatly wrapped around an entire plate of food, I like to eat smaller amounts of two or three breakfast tacos filled with nopales, potatoes, and chorizo, like a breakfast variety plate. I lived in Austin for five years, and getting to mix and match these tacos is pure joy.
In all my years alive, I’ve never heard a family member say, “I’m going to Hardee’s,” nor have I heard a friend plea, “I’m wasted, can you take me to Carl’s Jr.?” I have not been indoctrinated into the church of this chain’s smiling star (which, to me, looks like a sex offender). I imagine Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. are just like most nationwide fast food places: fine. But most of the leading chains also carry one or two showcase menu items that can be absolute magic, so I’m holding out hope that the Philly Cheesesteak Breakfast Burrito is a winner.
This thing is pretty bland, but the best thing about it by far is the cheap, ooey-gooey cheese product. I wouldn’t be surprised if this were just straight-up Kraft Cheez Whiz. It’s fairly nondescript, whiz-wise. It reads like American cheese, but in that extremely mild, Velveeta kind of way. Personally, I love the taste of American cheese when it’s been melted down into a nuclear sauce.
The burrito comes loosely wrapped and not really in a cylindrical burrito shape at all, but rather a haphazardly wrapped rectangle. It never fell apart, but I attribute that to the river of whiz holding tight to all of the competing ingredients. Those ingredients, by the way, don’t really have a ton of flavor. The thinly sliced ribeye is of Steak-umm quality—dry, bland, and chipped. Certainly not the type of robust flavor you get from a quality ribeye steak. The fire roasted peppers and onions are nice, but those should have more of a caramelized flavor as well. The eggs inside the burrito seem more of the liquid variety, with none of the full-fat flavor like you get with freshly cracked eggs. Moreover, I just don’t trust any perfectly square omelette. (Liquid eggs certainly seem to be the industry standard, since McDonald’s makes its breakfast burritos this way.)
Though I would eat low-rent Cheez Whiz on just about anything, the Philly Cheesesteak Breakfast Burrito at Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. simply isn’t worth seeking out. It’s a stunt, a ploy that fails in both its concept and execution. It’s simply the type of thing restaurants need to do to keep up with social media trends, nothing more. There’s not a doubt in my mind that this thing will drum up some business—it’s just going to leave a lot of people disappointed.
The circumstances that would need to arise in order for me to eat a Carl’s Jr. Philly Cheesesteak Breakfast Burrito again
I could be persuaded to eat this again on a road trip, but like, a bad one. Maybe if I’m driving across the country to file divorce papers or to bury my brother. You know, some real sad shit would have to happen if I were ever going to say “I want the Philly Cheesesteak Breakfast Burrito” again. Still, I could see myself pulling into a Carl’s Jr. off the freeway somewhere in New Mexico, tired and crazy from driving the last 14 hours straight, and saying, “Hello, old friend.”