I have a confession to make: Before Saturday night, I had never eaten a Whataburger.
Let me just stop you right there mid-gasp. I am not from Texas. We don't have Whataburger, Jack in the Box, In-N-Out or White Castle in my home state of Kansas (although White Castle technically calls Wichita, Kansas its hometown.) We Kansans are blissfully unaware of this orange and white striped building the Texans flock to in the wee hours of the morning.
And it is in the wee hours of Sunday morning (Saturday night still in my mind) that my Whataburger adventure begins.
After a successful evening taking in some blues tunes at The Goat in Lakewood, the gaggle of friends I had volunteered to DD for was in need of sustenance. The cries echoed from the backseat, "I want tacos!"
The natural choice at 2 a.m. was Velvet Taco. As we drove down Henderson Avenue, the torrential downpour began. By the time we made our way through the pothole minefield that is Henderson and pulled into the Velvet Taco parking lot the restaurant was packed like sardines with other late-night warriors.
Utter disappointment from the passengers. What were we to do? To the Texans in the car, the answer was clear: Whataburger.
I was skeptical.
For context, I am also skeptical about the undying zealot-level passion for Blue Bell ice cream felt by Texans the world over even in the face of the current Listeria outbreak. I'll accept the shade that will be thrown my direction over this, but I haven't had Blue Bell and I think I'll stick to my Ben and Jerry's (Yankee ice cream as a friend called it) to avoid falling ill.
And yet, I found myself driving the crew to Whataburger while crooning "Ignition (Remix)" by R.Kelly.
So we bounced our way into the restaurant. By this point, the clock is closing in on 3 a.m. I was starving. My compatriots were too preoccupied with their own post-drinking hunger to help me choose.
The menu loomed. Burgers. Chicken. All-Time Favorites. Breakfast. Where to begin?
Ultimately, I settled on a Bacon and Cheese Whataburger, sans veggies. (I don't hate vegetables. I actually love them, but I have Crohn's disease and raw vegetables don't agree with me at the moment.) The employee suggested making it a meal with fries and a drink. I stared outside at the pouring rain ... the fries seemed like the right choice.
And so we waited. I pointed out that it was my first time at a Whataburger. The group was aghast! Phones were readied to capture my first bite.
When my food was delivered to the table, I was asked if I wanted condiments. I reached for the Fancy Ketchup, but was quickly advised to grab the Spicy Ketchup as well.
Now, the burger. It was solid sized. These are not wimpy burgers, which honestly surprised me considering that most fast food burgers pale in comparison to the advertisements. I decided to channel my inner Sheryl Sandberg and just lean in and enjoy whatever the makers of Whataburger intended me to feel.
My first bite was everything I needed it to be in that moment. I felt an immediate sense of zen fill my soul. There was no longer a flood being created outside the restaurant. The other restaurant-goers were no longer loud drunkards. Everything was encased in a beautiful peaceful aura that only beef, bacon and cheese in a bun could create.
The fries, while not my favorite shoestring fries, were adequate. But they paled in comparison to the fries from Freddy's Frozen Custard, which sets the bar for shoestring fries in my book.
As my good friend pointed out to me though, 3 a.m. Whataburger is the best Whataburger — a sentiment with which I have to agree.