Fast Food Review: Black Angus Hamburger from Arctic Circle

In a day and age of mammoth fast food “designer” hamburgers, one has to wonder if the cheap, compact “regular” hamburger is even worth it. Now relegated to sub-dollar menu and kid’s meal status, the lowly hamburger isn’t even called a hamburger by some fast food chains. Take Wendy’s or Sonic, whose standard “hamburgers” are really a “Jr. Hamburger” and “Jr. Burger,” respectively, or  Burger King, where you can get a “Jr. Whopper.” It’s as if fast food chains have made hamburgers an afterthought, and declared that only in excess are they acceptable to grown adults who should have the money and waistline to step up to the big boy table.

Arctic Circle, thankfully for me, has a different philosophy. Offering “Black Angus” beef patties for all of their burgers (from the standard hamburger to their 1/2-lb offerings) the western chain makes a commitment to a high standard. They’re not afraid to flaunt it either. Check out their website:

A commitment to high quality food products has long distinguished us from other restaurants. In fact, we’ve been using Black Angus Beef since 2001. Black Angus Beef is specially selected quality beef that provides improved consistency, tenderness and flavor in ground beef patties. By selecting cattle that meet stringent quality and age requirements, we provide better beef products.

Personally, I’m a big believer that Angus beef tastes better than “regular” beef – whatever that exactly is. Having eaten several hockey puck burgers served by my local college dining hall I can only assume I’ve had my fair share of regular hamburgers, but with my college budget being what it may, ponying up for sit down burgers isn’t feasible. Likewise, my  fast food purchases are usually limited to the value menu. Hence, the Black Angus Hamburger sounds like a great option for me, but does it pass the taste test?

It definitely does. Retailing at $1.09, the burger is your standard 2 once-ish beef patty served on a plain enriched white flour bun. It comes with iceberg lettuce, ketchup, onions, pickles and white sauce, the last condiment of which is a mayo/ranch hybrid. The burgers are cooked on a flat-top griddle. In terms of ambiance, it’s tough to picture a more “classic” mid-size chain burger joint, a feel which makes Arctic Circle feel just homey enough to have a small town feel despite having more than 70 locations nationwide. These, after all, were the guys who gave us Utah’s famous “fry sauce,” and tempt summertime patrons with deliciously rich milkshakes (read our review of their Pumpkin Pie Shake.)

The burger itself is very flavorful. True, the petite patty is cooked through and overall is on the dry side, but it a good amount of savory beef flavor and natural taste. There’s also a nice compliment of grassy sweetness that works well with the pickles and ketchup, which are modestly but artistically applied with a crisp iceberg lettuce mix. The veggie to burger ratio is just right. The only problem is the bun, which is a little to large for the burger. Mine appeared day old in texture and wasn’t squishy or chewy, and likewise it didn’t have sesame seeds – small details which would have only impressed the heck out of me.

Is good beef wasted in such a small application?I certainly can see the argument that any taste superiority of Angus beef would be lost in a griddled and tiny hamburger, and I do admit that the bun to meat ratio does obscure the beefy notes of the meat. Yet I’m of the opinion that less can be more, and that if you’re going to truly appreciate something, you can enjoy it in a reasonable portion at an affordable price. This then, is a hamburger someone like me can enjoy. It’s a “snack” burger that’s actually worth it for a grown adult, and the kind of hamburger I can not only eat but enjoy and appreciate two hours after breakfast and an hour before lunch. Once more, it’s something I can afford as a college student, while still keeping a sense of gastronomic sophistication.

Arctic Circle’s hamburger may cost more than comparable menu items at the national chains, but you’re definitely getting more for your money in terms of taste. I’d also note that you’re getting, dare I say, a better experience as a customer. At least at my Logan, UT Arctic Circle, the staff was attentive and pleasant, and quickly and happily  made me another burger after I enumerated “what is this white gunk” after disagreeing with their white sauce on my burger. Likewise, every customer is treated to a small, but pleasurable, courtesy soft serve ice cream scone, which makes the extra quarter you’ll pay for the burger as compared to most chains worth it.

Pros: Friendly and attentive staff staff. Affordable regular style hamburger with premium burger taste. Solid beef flavor. Crisp and clean veggies. Pickles actually taste fresh. Free ice cream. Relatively healthy.

Cons: Small. Too much bun for small patty. Not incredibly filling. A little more expensive than regular hamburgers at McDonald's or Burger King.

Taste: 7.75/10
Value: 8.50/10
Grubbing on-the-go: 9.00/10
Price: $1.09

Overall GrubGrade: 8.00 (Very Good)

More Info: www.acburger.com
Nutrition Facts:
Arctic Circle Black Angus Hamburger
Calories: 264
Total Fat: 15 g
Saturated Fat: N/A
Cholesterol: 29 mg
Sodium:497 mg
Total Carbs: 23 g
Fiber: 1 g
Protein: 8 g

9 comments on “Fast Food Review: Black Angus Hamburger from Arctic Circle

  1. K. Rock says:

    Please put your feed back to full post.

  2. Scott Hall says:

    Nice touch w the free soft serve mini cone.

  3. tater says:

    The condiments were “artistically applied”? Huh?

  4. Rachel says:

    Oh gosh, that ice cream pic just gave me a mega craving for soft serve vanilla. Too bad it’s 1:30am. Wanted: 24 hour DQ!

  5. rob says:

    Kind of a sad looking looking little burger, the hamburger equivalent to the Christmas tree in “Charlie Brown Christmas.”

  6. I’ll take your word for it, but that looks like a pretty plain and flavorless burger. Of course, I can’t taste it through your pictures.

    I’ve never even heard of Arctic Cirlce. Where are they located?