Monday, January 13, 2014


Hillsboro, Mo.

What's this, a cop-out? No pictures? You didn't even go there?
Well, sort of a cop-out, but not really.
I was puny. While out doing my obligatory, responsible adult chores earlier in the day,  I stopped into the Desoto branch of Hardee's and sat and enjoyed a cup of coffee and a breakfast biscuit. I wanted to go to Huddle House, but their parking lot was completely full. I understand why, HH is really, really good.
But Hardee's makes a pretty good biscuit (from scratch) and fresh, dark coffee.  I dragged along my George Pelecanos novel, to just chill for a while. Chill I didn't.
I started feeling suddenly awful. After a few minutes I felt just well enough to get into the car and drive home. I dived into bed and passed out for a couple of hours.
When I got up I was still weak and woozy. By dinnertime, I was a little hungry, but didn't want to go out into public until I either healed or died, lest I poison the entire county with whatever the heck I had. Dysentery, malaria, rickets, scurvy, lupus (it's never lupus) I couldn't tell. Angel said it might be the flu, but I try not to succumb to such pedestrian diseases.
Angel offered to run somewhere and drag something home. Sure, whatever. Probably my last meal anyhow, go for  it.
The Place:
I don't need to describe it, it's a Hardee's. A plasticized, generic, ubiquitous fast food joint. There are nearly two thousand locations and Hardee's is a sister franchise to Carl's Junior. The company is headquartered right up the road in mighty St. Louis. Together, Hardee's and CJ's form the fifth largest fast food chain in the U.S. Of that top five, Subway, McDonald's Burger King and Wendy's, Hardees makes, without a doubt, the best tasting burger of the lot. Okay, Subway doesn't even make a burger, but still. Your argument to the contrary is invalid.
I've been to the Hillsboro location quite often, it is on one of the most prominent corners of the small town. On weekends, locals, farmers or whatever, congregate there like an old country store. Fractured families use it as a neutral zone to swap out the kids, we've transferred dogs there since it is such a visible and convenient place for outsiders to find. I even saved a dog's life there once as is chronicled in my essay "We all Shine On" in the anthology "Not Your Mother's Book On Dogs"   (Gratuitous self promotion, one of the perks of having your own blog)
During the week, it is not unusual to see suited lawyers and their nervous clients lingering over a table with laptops and piles of papers. Hillsboro is small, around two thousand people, but it is the county seat, home to the courthouse and jail for the sixth most populous county in the state. (County pop. 218,000 in 2010).
There are other places to get coffee and breakfast in the town, but the store's prime, highly visible location makes it easily the most popular. A better cup of coffee and sandwich can be had at Cool Beans, just a block away, but it's a little harder to find. (though well worth it) Cool Beans serves a maple sausage sandwich on pretzel bread that is simply to die for.
The Food:
I left the choice to Angel. She knows what I like, mostly. Plus I was puny and grouchy and not in the mood for deciding much of anything.
She nailed it.
A Bacon Thickburger with curly fries and a tall tea.The same thing she got for herself. The boy, or Adam, as we like to call him, picked out the 6$ Philly cheese-steak burger. That looked pretty good too.
The burgers are pretty big, 1/3 pound (pre-cooked). He had a Coke and his mom, a Diet Coke.
We'd actually had Hardee's on the short list for a while. Even though we're no strangers to the place, we'd heard that they were now serving their burgers on fresh baked buns. This is what we were focusing on.
Hardee's indeed makes the buns, in-store, fresh daily. Sure the dough is delivered to them frozen, but even that's arms and legs better than the other burger-joints can claim.
I looked over our buns. Angel's, Adam's and mine looked the same; round, firm, dense and not as flabby as others. Then I looked at the bread on my sandwich. (Pause for raucous laughter.)
It was indeed noticeably different. It was big enough to contain the entire sandwich. It was not disintegrating, nor did it throughout the meal. The taste was a bit denser and sweeter than a traditional bun, like fresh baked bread, quite good.
Add to that the burger patty itself, better than the other places by a noticeable measure. We've recently been to the other places, I still think Hardee's burgers, even without the clearly superior bun, is the best tasting among them.
The lettuce and tomato were fresh and ample, the bacon was decent and crisp, not soggy.
The curly fries, lightly seasoned, were pretty good as well, I prefer the fries from here, even above McD's.
Even while on my death bed, I ate the whole damn thing. I should not have, at least not while in my recliner. I developed a pretty hefty case of heartburn a couple of hours earlier. Of course I did. The burger itself is nearly a thousand calories, Add fries to that  and you've got 1360 calories, over seven hundred of those from fat, it's also loaded down with sodium, carbs and cholesterol. Yeah, this ain't anybody's diet food.
But boy howdy, it's tasty.
Twenty five bucks. Slightly higher than you might spend at Micky D's, but you're getting a much, much tastier burger. If you're going off the counting calories wagon anyhow, you might as well get some better tasting coffin nails.
In my mind, and my experienced, professional opinion, McD's obviously and unashamedly, goes for the lowest possible costs, Wendy's and BK are trying, but missing the mark completely, like J.C. Penny's and Sears. Subway doesn't really cook anything so I can't to compare them in this review.
Though I'm lauding Hardee's here, keep in mind that there are plenty of places, mostly local or regional, that make a better burger. Browse through past reviews and you'll find them, Gordon's Stoplight comes to mind immediately.
But if you have to have a chain burger, drive right past those other places and pull into Hardee's. You'll thank yourself later.
Oh yeah, the tea? Forgettable. Dead even with Pizza Junction.

* I'm feeling better now, thanks for pretending to care.

Hardee's on Urbanspoon

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