Meat Fighter II: Fatburger vs. Vera’s
In the second game in the Meat Fighters series, I pitted Fatburger against Vera’s Burger Shack. FIGHT!
The burger contenders:
Fatburger’s Ultimate Backyard BBQ Bacon Burger (limited time only)
Vera’s The BBQ Burger
I’ll just tell you upfront that this turned out to be much more difficult than I had anticipated. You see, a while back my husband and I swung by Vera’s on Main. Big Man had wanted to try it for over a year, since I had gone there for the first time. On this particular visit, he got a Baja Burger, regular fries, and a strawberry shake. The total was over $17.00 before tip. Yikes! The guy behind the counter gave the typical I’ve-got-to-work-in-a-burger-joint-so-don’t-bother-me sort of service. The shake tasted like inexpensive strawberry ice cream mixed with milk. And the burger was just okay, but then again my husband chose some weird toppings. I figured this was a no-brainer. I knew I had to go back to Vera’s to get a burger of my own, but I wasn’t expecting much.
We went to Fatburger on Lougheed Highway at the beginning of the week. As I walked up I saw that their featured burger was the Ultimate Backyard BBQ Bacon Burger with onion rings in the burger. Oh my! Now, I have a guilty little secret and that is the Western Bacon Cheeseburger at the American fast food joint Carl’s Jr. I try to have one at least every couple of years. So imagine my excitement to see a similar version of my guilty secret being offered at Fatburger! Oh yeah.
I ordered the combo with onion rings and a strawberry shake for $15.97. Big Man ordered the Double Fat with Cheese Deal with added bacon and mushrooms (99 cents each or 2/$1.49), fries, and the Maui WOWee shake (banana and vanilla) for a total of $17.47. Little Man ordered the Kids Cheese Deal with added bacon, fries, and a lemonade for $5.98. Okay, so the grand total after a 15% tip was $50.77. Not cheap for burgers by any means, but still about what I’d expect to pay at Vera’s or even slightly less.
Before I get to the food, I want to say that service was absolutely phenomenal for what is, in essence, a fast food burger bar. I have never seen staff so friendly and helpful at a fast food place, ever. I’ve had Fatburger before (at the downtown location by Stadium Skytrain station) and service has never been this good. Hats off to the manager of this location.
Aside from just a general fun vibe that was really welcoming, I also have to put in a plug for how they handle kids. Fatburger has got it figured out. First of all, nothing comes on the kids burger automatically other than the patty and the bun. If you have a kid, you know that this is brilliant. After my son ordered his meal, they talked to him directly…you know, as if he was a real person (something that doesn’t even happen at some sit-down restaurants). The cashier directed Little Man’s attention to a picture that showed all the additional ingredients that he could add, with the name below each picture, and asked him what he wanted on his burger. This is MUCH easier than getting a kid to figure out what he doesn’t want on his burger.
Our shakes were delivered first. I had asked if I could get a “cup on the side” so I could spoon some of my strawberry shake into a cup for Little Man. A whole shake is just too filling to drink right before a big meal. I didn’t ask for any other special treatment from the cashier. Yet, she overheard me promise to share my shake with Little Man and so they actually split the shake and put whipping cream on top of both portions. What service!
I’ve been looking for a good strawberry shake for a while and have been continually disappointed. I’m sorry, but mixing “strawberry flavoured” ice cream with milk does not make for a good strawberry shake and yet this is what I’m served time and time again. Not so at Fatburger! This shake was absolutely fantastic. It was, I’d have to say, the best strawberry shake I’ve had outside of Dairy Queen, and I love me my Dairy Queen strawberry shakes.
The Maui WOWee shake was also amazing. This is a limited time “featured shake,” so I highly advise that you get off of your computer and get yourself to a Fatburger right now to get one of these banana vanilla shakes. Don’t even finish reading this post, just go.
As you may recall from my Wally’s Burgers post, Big Man is a banana shake fanatic, but he too is continually disappointed with the banana shakes he orders (when he can even find them). Well, when he took a gulp of the Maui WOWee, he said exactly this: “Oh yeah…I’ve found it. Best Banana Shake.” “Better than Wally’s?” I asked. “Yeah,” he said, and added, “Vera’s is a joke compared to this.” So there you have it folks. Fatburger rocks the shakes.
The Kids Deal is quite a deal. Even I was impressed: a juicy mini cheeseburger (with bacon!), fries, a drink, and a treat for less than $6. For once, I didn’t hear Little Man complaining. He said it was the best burger he’s ever had, but he’s nine, so what does he know? Come back when you’ve lived some life, Kid! Still, it looked pretty damn good, especially for a kids meal.
My burger arrived next and looked divine. My burger was described as “The Ultimate in Backyard BBQ flavour… Our 100% AAA Alberta Beef, brushed with tangy BBQ sauce, topped with Home Style onion rings, two slices of melted Swiss cheese, crisp maple bacon, mayo, summer fresh lettuce and sliced tomato.” This was a really good burger. The bun was soft. The BBQ sauce was not too sweet and the onion rings were crisp. It was super cheesy.
The patty was very juicy. I’ve heard that the usual fat content for a burger patty is 20%, but this patty was so juicy and delicious, I had to wonder if the reason behind this had something to do with a higher fat content. Could this be why it is called Fatburger? What tastes better than fat? Fat and beef, that’s what.
I thought my burger was good, but I also felt that the regular Fatburger Cheeseburger that I’ve had in the past is a tad bit better. Looking at Big Man’s Double Fat with Cheese, I was filled with desire and flushed with envy. His burger was HUGE and so juicy. And the cheese! Oh God, the cheese!
I also have to mention the fries and the onion rings because this was a really close race between Fatburger and Vera’s. The fries were good: fairly potatoey, not overly salty, and not greasy at all. The onion rings had a light and crispy batter, good breakability (none of the onions “pulled out” of their batter shell when I took a bite), and, again, not greasy at all. I really liked the onion rings.
At this point, I couldn’t see how Vera’s could have any hope of winning this challenge. But we headed there on the following Friday. Having spent about $20 the first time around, this time we made sure to catch one of their Weekday Specials—$10.99 for a burger, fries or onion rings, and soft drink. Like Fatburger, Vera’s offers a daily special; however, Vera’s only offers them Monday through Friday. Friday is the day to go because the Special is that you get to choose any of the Monday through Thursday specials. Yay! Make everyone happy!
Unlike our last visit, the service this time around was very, very good. It was as if they knew we’d just been to Fatburger and had a great experience there and now they wanted to top that. The girls that were working at Vera’s that evening were very friendly. We had several offers to refill our drinks and our fries. They treated Little Man with respect. They chatted in a personable way when they stopped by our table.
The overall environment at Vera’s was also really pleasing as it felt more like a sit-down restaurant than a fast food burger joint. The Vera’s on Main Street felt like a place where you could meet with friends for burgers and a pint. On the wall was a placard that read:
Three things you should know about Vera’s:
- We make our own burgers.
- They’re always fresh, never frozen.
- We’re a full fat operation.
I have always used the term “full fat flavour” (e.g., “No thank you, I do not want lowfat sour cream because I prefer full fat flavour.”), a term that I thought I had coined myself. It was a delight to see that I was in the right place.
Little Man grabbed a Back to School Special, which is a huge burger for just under $6.00. Watching him try to eat that monstrosity was hilarious and ridiculous. That burger DEFEATED him.
Both Big Man and I got the Wednesday Special on that Friday. “The BBQ Burger” comes with a single patty, provolone, bacon, fried onions, and BBQ sauce. Big Man swapped out the fried onions for fried mushrooms and added lettuce, tomato, and mustard. I kept my onions, but added banana peppers, lettuce, tomato, and mayo.
My burger was really, really good. The patty wasn’t quite as fatty/juicy/greasy as Fatburger, but the flavour of the patty was fantastic. Furthermore, it was a bit thicker than the Fatburger patty. The bun was soft, the romaine lettuce was green, the tomato was thick, the bacon was crisp, the onions were fat and tender, and the BBQ sauce was really tasty and not too sweet. The other thing I really liked about this burger was that there was a bit more of the BBQ sauce on it, so you really felt like this was a BBQ burger. For me, the Total Flavour Package of Vera’s The BBQ Burger beat down Fatburger’s Ultimate Backyard BBQ Bacon Burger in the third round. It was close, but The BBQ Burger takes top spot for me.
All in all, the fight had to go to decision because these two burger joints each shine in their own way. For example, the fries were more potatoey at Vera’s, both in taste and appearance (as is evident in the picture below). They had been cooked a bit longer and were more crispy, which I prefer. I was really into those fries.
The onion rings, however, had a heavier taste to them than the Fatburger onion rings. They were also a bit greasier and not as breakable.
When Little Man first starting eating his Back to School burger, he said, “This is the best burger I have ever had in my entire life.” Does that sound familiar? That’s right, he said it about Fatburger first. Then by the time he was done, he revised his opinion. The Vera’s burger was “really good, but I’d have to…I’d have to say…that Fatburger was…[*shrugs*] better.”
Big Man concurred. His Vera’s burger was really, really good, but his Fatburger was “bigger.” Well, yeah, I point out, you got the Double at Fatburger. Regardless, he liked the Fatburger Double a bit more, although he preferred Vera’s onion rings.
So basically we have two really good burger joints. This is what each place has going for it:
- Regular cheeseburgers
- Onion rings
Vera’s Burger Shack:
- Specialty burgers
As far as cost and value is concerned, they are about even. Vera’s Weekday Specials make their burgers affordable Monday through Friday, but if you are going on the weekend, then Fatburger will be slightly less expensive. Additionally, Fatburger has the Big Fat Club Card: buy 6 burgers, get your 7th for free. So it’s a toss-up in that regard.
I’d have to say that if you are a fries lover and you are looking for a unique burger, then head straight to Vera’s. If you are a milkshake lover and you feel like a traditional burger, then go to Fatburger. No matter what you choose, expect fantastic burgers from Fatburger and Vera’s Burger Shack.
4461 Lougheed Highway
2922 Main Street