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Lunch guys: So big, it’s shameful — or puts others to shame

POSTED: March 30, 2008 5:01 a.m.

The line of Big Mouth Burgers at Chili’s has long been on the Lunch Guys "Best Burgers" short list. The name captures the spirit of these magnificent monstrosities.

Now Chili’s has made the Big Mouth collection even huger with three new burgers, all topped with extra-thick bacon.

We dug into the Southern Smokehouse Bacon Big Mouth Burger. That’s a mouthful in every way, but how close is it to the top of our "Best Burgers" list?

Chris: Tom, the only way this burger could have been better would be if it were served from a roadside diner next to a Nebraska pig farm.

Really, the legit atmosphere is the only thing it’s missing. (Of course, it is a lot more convenient for us to just stop by the local strip mall Chili’s on our lunch hour.)

The Big Mouth chefs have created their most extravagant concoction yet, with the onion strings and hunk of smoked cheddar on top of the juicy patty. The barbecue sauce practically sizzled, and I loved how it was served on the side so I could dip it rather than have the burger become a saucy mess in my hands. It’s all cooled just enough by the slather of mayo.

But let me devote some space to this extra-thick brown-sugar-and-chile-rubbed bacon. Tom, I’m embarrassed that we’ve gushed in the past about lesser bacon. This Chili’s bacon is like a cruise ship compared to the little canoes the other restaurants are paddling around.

The two slabs that topped my burger were thicker, meatier and more flavorful than any bacon I’ve ever had. Leave off the burger patty and I still would have got my fill. The only way to get better bacon is to become a pig farmer.

Tom: We’ve finally found an example of "too much of a good thing." This burger is preposterous in its proportions. Unfortunately it’s more show than "go" because the taste doesn’t live up to the heft. Yes, the bacon is great and this barbecue sauce on the side is the best I’ve ever had at a chain, but eating this reminded me of being a kid and cramming too many pieces of bubble gum in your mouth. That never was as satisfying as just chewing a piece or two.

It’s one thing to have a giant, flattened softball-sized burger on a giant bun. And we’ve seen heaps of tasty bacon on a burger before. We’ve even had burgers with plenty of real cheese. But never have we had them tied together with a mound of fried mini onion rings on top.

Chris, I couldn’t get my hands around this beast, let alone my mouth. Chili’s definitely has a big hitter on its hands with the Southern Smokehouse. But I’m always more impressed by the boxer with skill than a thug with just one knock out punch.

Chris: If the Great Burger Wars of the 1980s were still being fought, this would be the burger that would end the fighting because nothing could top it. It’s meaty, greasy, cheesy, zesty and unforgettable.

Tom: Chris, at 108 grams of fat and more than three-quarters the calories you need for a whole day, "unforgettable" is a good way to describe it — especially since you’ll be doing sit ups for the following week trying to work this off your gut.

Tom James and Chris Tauber are freelance writers.



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