Reality Check

Reviews of fast food burgers and a look at how the real life version compares to the advertised beauty shot.

Reality Check: Hatch Chile Burger at Fuddruckers

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[Photographs: top, Fuddruckers; all others, Erin Jackson]

Fuddruckers recently added a spicy new item to send-off summer: Hatch Chile Burgers, featuring a fresh, never frozen, beef patty topped with pepper jack cheese and grilled Hatch chiles. It's a special, limited-time-only item that you can get it in four sizes, ranging from 1/3 of a pound to a full pound, and top it off with whatever you want from the condiments bar.

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I went with a 1/3-pounder ($7.49), and added only the essentials: a slice of tomato, a sprinkle of shredded lettuce, and a few pickled jalapeƱos.

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The grilled chilies are sliced thinly, layered on top of the cheese, and dusted with cracked black pepper and seasoned salt. Heat-wise, they're medium-spicy, with earthy undertones, and go a long way to ratchet up the flavor profile of the burger. Unfortunately, they are unpleasantly mushy, a theme that continues with the beef.

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The beef was a pitiful shade of grey, had no char or crust whatsoever, and looked like it had been steamed, not grilled. It was moist, but it registered as wet and soggy, as opposed to juicy. Even Fudds, whose website says "a burger is only as good as its beef" would have to agree that this one was an unqualified bust.

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The mis-firing of the patty and the chile made the burger one big, soggy, mushball. The only element that had any real texture was the shredded lettuce.

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The bun wasn't great either. The top half was the same height as the bottom half and the patty, combined. It was also too heavily buttered and the texture was more like a dinner roll than a burger bun, which meant it squished down to nearly nothing.

After reading the comments in my review of Fudd's exotic burgers and Kenji's review of their baseline cheeseburger, it's clear that there are some quality control issues from location to location. The Fudds closest to me (in Mission Valley, San Diego) might not be representative of the chain as a whole.

In addition to executing the burger poorly, this location was out of pepperjack cheese and the batteries in the buzzer that was supposed to alert me that my burger is ready were dead, so it sat under the heat lamp until I came in from outside to look for it.

If the location near you is more reliable, the Hatch Chile Cheeseburger is worth a try, but if not, I'd skip it, and Fuddruckers, altogether.

I can't believe that I wasted my 100th AHT review on such a sucky burger...but five minutes later, all was right in the world.

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About the author: Erin Jackson is a food writer and photographer who is obsessed with discovering the best eats in San Diego. You can find all of her discoveries on her food blog EJeats.com. On Twitter, she's @ErinJax

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