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» Cracker Barrel: Miles Ahead of Expectations
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Cracker Barrel: Miles Ahead of Expectations

By • Jun 2nd, 2009 • Category: Burger Blog

Get on just about any stretch of interstate in America, and it won’t be long before you pass one of these:

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With almost 600 locations in 41 states, they are, indeed, just about everywhere.  Truth be told, I associate Cracker Barrel with “road trip food” more than perhaps any other restaurant chain anywhere.  In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever frequented one when I wasn’t driving someplace far from home.

And I know I’ve never thought of Cracker Barrel as a destination for a good burger.  To me, it’s always been a breakfast kind of place: eggs, biscuits, maybe some country-fried steak and sausage gravy if I’m feeling especially saucy.  I mean, I know they have a lunch and dinner menu: chicken, meat loaf, homestyle veggies, that sort of thing.  But a burger?  It just never occurred to me.

Until today.

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Turns out there’s a Cracker Barrel just a few thousand feet shy of exactly halfway between my house and my dad’s house, one state over.  Makes it a great meeting point.  So today I found myself weaving my way through the rocking chairs out front and the country store inside, wondering if a Half-Pound Bacon Cheeseburger could be any good at a “breakfast place.”

I guess I assumed that the bacon would be pretty good, even if nothing else was.

Boy, was I surprised.  The burger that landed in front of me was flat and wide, unlike the overly tall burgers at most joints.  The thick-cut bacon was cooked perfectly (just as I suspected), peeking out from underneath the soft, melty cheese.

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(I must say, if I can digress for a moment, that I personally love the bacon-under-the-cheese arrangement.  When the bacon is on top, you’re often left with direct bacon-to-bun contact, and soon, your bacon is sliding all over the place, often with a whole strip of it coming out unexpectedly mid-burger.  Cracker Barrel wisely uses the security blanket approach, with the cheese holding the bacon in place, ensuring that you get cheese AND bacon with every bite.  Kudos.)

The burger was pretty obviously a hand-shaped-and-flattened patty, and mine was cooked just right.  The real crowning touch, though, was the bun.  Pardon me, make that toast.  Delicately-buttered, nicely-grilled, Texas-style toast.  I wouldn’t have expected that, but it was spot-on appropriate, considering the massive farmhouse fireplace and hearth over my shoulder and rusty agricultural implements nailed to the walls.

In an earlier post, I suggested that cheeseburgers are great, in part, because there’s a chance of turning up a great cheeseburger in some surprising places.  For my money, count Cracker Barrel as one of those places.  I don’t know that it suddenly vaults onto my list of all-time cheeseburger shrines, but it’s nice to know that, no matter where I go, getting my fix should never be more than a few exit ramps away.

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One Response to “Cracker Barrel: Miles Ahead of Expectations”

  1. 1
    Matt Kendrick Says:

    Big fan of Cracker Barrel’s Half-Pound Bacon Cheeseburger. Nice article!

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