Grab n’ Go, Because I Was Lazy

McDonald’s Basic Selections

I try not to eat a lot of fast food but every once in a while I’m out and about and I need to grab something so I don’t starve. It would be better to find a sit down restaurant with healthy options, sure, but those also take more time and are (generally) more expensive, so I make do with what I can get so I can keep on rolling with whatever I’m doing. It’s not the smart option, no, but it is what’s in front of me and when I’m hungry that’s really all that matters in the moment. My lizard brain says, “eat now!” and I comply.

McDonald’s is not good food. I’d actually argue that of all the burger joints it’s one of the worst. I’d happily take a White Castle or a Rally’s over it, if there were either of those in my area. But they aren’t, and the Burger King and Wendy’s that I have are pretty subpar most days (I recently grabbed another Ghost Pepper Chicken Sandwich from my local Wendy’s and was painfully underwhelmed). So I settled for McDonald’s this time, grabbing a Spicy McCrispy for myself and a Bacon Quarter Pounder for my wife. We sat and ate these and, well, one was surprisingly better than the other.

Spicy McCrispy

Every restaurant wants to have their own spicy chicken sandwich to advertise. Wendy’s was one of the first with a regular spicy on their menu, and then Popeyes came along and blew everyone out of the water. The rest have been working to catch up, and they regularly fail to achieve anything close to brilliance. This actually isn’t the first spicy chicken from McDonald’s I’ve eaten and reviewed for this site. I sampled the Hot 'n Spicy McChicken in my first “Spicy Chicken Wars” article, and then the Spicy Crispy Chicken Sandwich in the second article of the series; both were underwhelming. But, hey, third time’s the charm, right?

Wrong. McDonald’s continues to make very poor spicy chicken sandwiches, and the Spicy McCrispy is no different for the restaurant. Checking the menu, it actually looks like this sandwich is just a rebrand of the Spicy Crispy Chicken Sandwich, using the same “spicy” sauce, potato roll, and all. Surprisingly, this was an even sadder version of that sandwich, which made me question what the restaurant was thinking. This version made the previous one that I ate, a couple of years ago, seem happy and vibrant by comparison.

As before, the sandwich comes in a foil wrapper that, in theory, is meant to keep the sandwich crispy (you know, the adjective that is right in the name). To do that, though, the sandwich has to start out crispy and, despite its name, I doubt the McCrispy ever actually gets crispy. The batter on the sandwich is thin and soggy, and the foil wrapper does nothing more than trap the moisture in, making a bad sandwich worse by keeping it humid and gross. The sandwich, frankly, felt wet coming out of the wrapper.

And then there’s the spice or, really, the lack thereof. The first time I got this sandwich was in Indianapolis, home of white bread, Midwestern food. This time I live in the South and, generally speaking, Southern spice is higher than Midwestern spice. Most places around here serve noticeably spicier dishes than what I would find in Indy, even at the same chain joints. That, however, was not the case for this McDonald’s. The sandwich was bland as can be. The sauce that was on the chicken was barely perceptible as spicy, despite its bright, neon color. The breading on the sandwich was limp, salty but otherwise flavorless. There was no hint of spice to be found on this thing. Hell, there was no hint of enjoyment at all in eating this. It was a sad, soggy waste of time.

McDonald’s can rebrand and rename this sandwich over and over but it doesn’t change anything. The Spicy McCrispy is a weak, limp, lame sandwich that needs to be reinvented if it’s going to play in the spicy wars. Hell, just making it tasty at all would be a good step as this was one of the worst sandwiches I’ve gotten from McDonald’s in quite some time. I should have gone with a burger instead.

Quarter Pounder with Cheese and Bacon

It’s been quite some time since I’ve eaten a Quarter Pounder. Years ago they were my go-to burger when I was out and about, being a kid and wanting to enjoy something large and fun when at McDonald’s (since, as a kind, that was the place I wanted to go). But as my tastes evolved, and other restaurants caught my fancy, my desire for a Quarter Pounder fell off. At this point, until I took a couple of bites from my wife’s sandwich, I think it had been a couple of decades since I had one. I do have to say, though, that with what McDonald’s has done to the burger, I might just get one again sometime soon.

The Quarter Pounder is a pretty basic burger. It’s a large slab of meat, on a sesame seed bun, with pickles, onions, ketchup, and mustard. Nothing fancy, no real frills, just the expected McDonald’s burger. With that said, the chain has been working to “improve” their burgers, cooking the slivered onions in with the meat and adding more sauce to the burgers in general. I sampled their Two Cheeseburger meal a little while back as an investigation to see if these improvements really paid off. I wasn’t impressed at the time, but sampling my wife’s burger this time around I have to say, I might have been wrong about that.

The burger was impressively juicy, in the right way (unlike my soggy and limp chicken sandwich). The burger was a tad greasy, yes, but most of the moisture was from the sauce and the patty, making for a burger that didn’t feel dry, or gross, or overdone. You know, it didn’t feel like a McDonald’s burger. That alone was impressive, but the inclusion of bacon on the burger actually did kick it up to a whole extra level.

Generally speaking I don’t tend to find bacon to be a necessary addition to a burger. Done right, a burger should sing on its own, with flavor and seasoning, and bacon often gets lost in that mix, just adding more salt but not necessarily more flavor. And while I wouldn’t argue that I specifically tasted the bacon on its own on this Quarter Pounder, it did add the right level of extra salt to the mix to make everything taste really good. This was better than any Quarter Pounder I’d had in the past. This was, dare I say it, legitimately good.

I don’t foresee myself going back to McDonald’s any time soon; I do need to think about trying to be at least somewhat healthy. But when I do (and I know I will at some point) I expect I’ll grab a Quarter Pounder with Cheese and Bacon. It was good enough that it might just become my go-to in the future (at least when I feel the need for McDonald’s and not one of the many other places I frequent).