Burger King’s Southwest Bacon Whopper Is a Welcome Distraction

·3 min read
Photo:  Dennis Lee
Photo: Dennis Lee

For its latest limited-time offering, Burger King is taking its cues from the best-sellers on the menu. The chain has moved on from the rollout of the Whopper Melt (which we liked, though some customers were not so fond of its small format), and has shifted focus back to its flagship burger, the Whopper. The Southwest Bacon Whopper is all about new toppings: avocado spread, bacon, crunchy tortilla strips, lettuce, onion, tomato, and a spicy sauce. This is all piled atop the regular framework of a Whopper, with a quarter-pound patty (your pick of beef or Impossible) on a sesame seed bun.

The Whopper has always worked because of its classic, straightforward simplicity, so the idea of loading one up with avocado spread certainly stood out to me. It feels like half the time Burger King just promotes a series of shameless McDonald’s ripoffs, like the Big King (Big Mac ripoff) and the Quarter Pound King (Quarter Pounder ripoff). So something, anything new feels like a fresh breath of flame-broiled air.

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How does Burger King’s Southwest Bacon Whopper taste?

I went to my local Burger King and picked up both the regular Southwest Bacon Whopper as well as its Impossible Burger counterpart for comparison’s sake. I flipped the lid on one to check out its build.

Photo:  Dennis Lee
Photo: Dennis Lee

I know, I know. These dome-off shots are never appealing. But as you can see, the toppings are at least generously pretty piled on there. There are lots of tortilla strips, a consistent layer of bacon, big slices of tomatoes and assorted veggies, along with a modest amount of avocado spread. There’s some mayo-based spicy sauce on there too, though it’s impossible to see under that stack. So far so good.

It turns out to be a winning combination of flavors. Maybe not the most creative (hey, this is Burger King, after all), but pretty solid. The edges of the burger suffer from a lack of topping evenness, but all busy burgers tend to be thickest in the middle. The tortilla strips add a fun crunch, while the veggies, though not great quality, add some fresh bites, and the spicy sauce adds a very muted but detectable kick in the background of it all. And that avocado spread is the best topping of all.

I wouldn’t call it fancy guacamole or anything; picture the premade stuff you can get in small pouches or cups at the grocery store with the consistency of baby food. Even considering it isn’t fresh off the tree, the avocado adds a novel element to the Southwest Bacon Whopper.

What holds the burger back is the consistently crappy beef patty. It’s dry and flavorless, aside from its slight smokiness; it’s occasionally gristly and is overall just sort of there for the sake of padding out the burger. It’s not like you’re running to Burger King, anticipating the greatest beef of your life; we all know more or less what to expect out of a fast food chain. But seriously, the beef is bad. It’s been terrible for years, and it’s the sole reason I avoid Burger King in general. It kicks the legs out from beneath the sandwich and makes it hard for me to fully recommend this one.

And even though it avoids using subpar beef, the Impossible version isn’t terribly different. It’s got that passable but slightly fake meat vibe to it, but in practice, you can’t shake the feeling that it’s a little goofy. I mean, this thing comes with bacon on it by default. Nobody’s eating a Southwestern Bacon Whopper for ethical reasons. Why bother, then, with an Impossible patty? (You could, of course, omit the bacon; it’d still be perfectly good that way.)

Ultimately, despite the disappointing protein, Burger King’s Southwest Bacon Whopper is certainly worth trying for its novel toppings, which are far better than most of the other burgers on the menu. Just keep your hopes and dreams in check, because there’s not a lot of hope for that beef.