I went to fast-food chain Arby's for the first time, and I had no idea what to expect.
Arby's claims it "has the meats," and I found it to be true — the burgers were delicious.
After trying three sandwiches, two sides, five sauces, and a cookie, I have a new favorite spot.
I've tried my share of fast-food and fast-casual dining over the years, but somehow I missed out on Arby's, a fast-food chain known for its roast-beef and other meat sandwiches.
One September afternoon, my mom and I visited an Arby's in Long Island, New York, to see if it was worth adding a new fast-food spot to our rotation — and we decided that it absolutely was. We were delighted by the Smokehouse Brisket sandwich and the melt-in-your-mouth chocolate-chip cookie we ordered, among other things.
Plus, our meal — which could have fed three people — was $38.56 after tax, which we thought was great value for what we got.
Here's what our Arby's experience was like, and why we'll be returning sooner rather than later.
Arby's is a fast-food chain that was founded in Ohio in 1964. It's best known for its meat sandwiches.
The chain was founded by brothers Forrest and Leroy Raffel, reported Metro Monthly. Contrary to popular belief, "Arby's" does not refer to the initials of roast beef, but the R and B of "Raffel Brothers."
The chain now has more than 3,500 locations across nine countries, according to Arby's website.
I've visited most of the biggest fast-food franchises, from McDonald's to Raising Cane's to In-N-Out Burger. But, somehow, I missed trying Arby's, even though there's a location only 5 minutes from where I grew up.
I decided to check Arby's off the list and paid a visit to my local location on Long Island, New York. I let my mom tag along on this culinary journey, too.
When we walked in at around 3 p.m. on a Tuesday, it was completely empty, though there were people using the drive-thru.
Arby's has a vaguely Western aesthetic, even though the chain was founded in Ohio. According to the Arby's website, the Raffels did initially want to call the chain Big Tex, but it was already in use.
The Columbus Dispatch reported that the Raffels decided to make their restaurants Western-themed in keeping with the simplicity of their food — out in the Wild West, you're eating simple foods like meat and potatoes, or a roast-beef sandwich with potato chips.
This explains the longhorn statue outside, the 10-gallon hat in the logo, and the art inside.
Here's an example of the Western art that's scattered throughout the dining area.
Since it was completely empty inside and it was a perfectly sunny day, we decided we'd sit outside, though the tables and booths looked very clean and comfortable, especially for a fast-food place.
After ordering our food, I noticed the abundance of sauces available: Ketchup, Horsey Sauce, Arby's Sauce, Honey Dijon Mustard, and Spicy Three Pepper.
I took a cup of every sauce to try.
Here's what we ordered: medium curly fries, a four-piece order of mozzarella sticks, the Classic Roast Beef sandwich, the Smokehouse Brisket sandwich, the Classic Crispy Sandwich, a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup cookie, and two small sodas. In total, it was $38.
There were multiple factors that helped us decide our order. First, someone recommended the curly fries to me, so I had to try them. I also figured that mozzarella sticks are a good side dish, and not every chain has them, so I wanted to see how they tasted.
For our sandwiches, I knew Arby's is famous for its roast beef, so that was a must. My mom requested the chicken sandwich, which is also a fast-food staple at places like McDonald's, Chick-fil-A, and Popeye's.
The brisket was added because I was surprised to see a brisket sandwich on the menu at all. As a Jewish person, I know my brisket. So, when I found out that the Raffel brothers were also Jewish from The Nosher, I knew I had to try this sandwich.
I couldn't believe all that food came out to less than $40 — plus, the sauces were free, including the marinara sauce that came with the mozzarella sticks.
First up, I dug into the Smokehouse Brisket sandwich. The packaging referenced Arby's famous slogan: "We have the meats."
This was the only sandwich that came in a box — the other two came wrapped in foil, reminding me of other fast-food chains I've visited.
This sandwich was huge, with the brisket spilling out from the buns. It was worth the $7.99 in size alone.
Sometimes you open up a box to find a puny little sandwich or burger. This was not the case at Arby's.
Of course, the trade-off is that the sandwich is 560 calories.
Simply put, this was delicious. It was moist, flavorful, and I couldn't believe it had come out of a fast-food kitchen.
The Smokehouse Brisket sandwich comes with 13-hour smoked brisket, cheddar cheese, crispy onion strings, and barbecue sauce, all on a toasted bun.
I was prepared to douse my sandwich in one of the sauces I had gotten, but I found I didn't need to — the brisket was so moist it almost melted in my mouth.
The cheese, onion strings, and barbecue-sauce flavors combined nicely. You could've told me this was from a fancy BBQ joint, and I would've believed you.
Next up I tried my chicken sandwich, which was mislabeled — I got the Classic Crispy Chicken, not the Chicken Bacon Swiss. It cost $6.59.
I figured that if I was going somewhere new, I should try its "classic" sandwich.
This was also a pleasant surprise. My sandwich came with a hefty piece of crispy chicken, lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise.
Sometimes I experience "chicken anxiety," a phenomenon that's been detailed on TikTok. It's the feeling that you could be eating undercooked chicken — sometimes, one wrong bite of chicken will give me the ick.
This was not the case at Arby's. This chicken wasn't chewy in the slightest, and I really liked the flavor of the crumbs that comprised the crust.
I did end up adding the Horsey Sauce, which is the chain's mayo-based horseradish sauce. I thought it added just the right amount of kick.
This sandwich has slightly fewer calories, coming in at 510.
My least favorite sandwich I tried was the Classic Roast Beef, which is $4.99.
This was also mislabeled — I got the Classic Roast Beef, not the Double Roast Beef.
It's not a big deal, but if we had gotten more than one roast-beef or chicken sandwich, it might've been confusing.
I should've read the fine print — this was just roast beef on a toasted bun.
This is the sandwich that put Arby's on the map, but I was underwhelmed. It was pretty dry, so I added Arby's Sauce, which tasted like barbecue sauce to me. That was better, but I thought it was still a pretty bland sandwich.
Now I know for the future that I should (at least) go for the Classic Beef 'N Cheddar, which comes on an onion roll with roast beef, cheddar sauce, and Red Ranch sauce.
But, if you're a picky eater or just looking for something simple, this might be the sandwich for you. The roast beef had the right amount of smokiness, though I prefer my roast beef to be more rare.
This sandwich has 360 calories.
I was recommended the curly fries, and I'm so glad I purchased them.
I love a curly fry, so when I mentioned I was going to Arby's, a friend told me that the curly fries ($3.59 for a medium) were a must.
I couldn't agree more.
I even got the coveted perfectly curled curly fry.
Not every fast-food chain really delivers on the corkscrew goodness of curly fries, but Arby's did. I also tried them with every remaining sauce I had — ketchup, Honey Dijon Mustard, and Three Pepper sauce, which tasted like Tabasco — and the fries paired well with each one.
A medium order of curly fries has 410 calories.
The other side we decided to try were the mozzarella sticks, which were $5.59 for four. They were good, but not a standout to us.
These didn't taste any different from the mozzarella sticks you can get at a chain like Applebee's. The same was true of the marinara sauce.
The sticks, which have 440 calories, were crispy, but the cheese inside was a little gummy, we thought. We didn't end up finishing them.
The last part of our meal was this Reese's peanut-butter and chocolate-chip cookie. It cost $2.09.
I know Arby's is famous for its Jamocha Shake, which is a chocolate/coffee milkshake, but I was so full that I thought I would burst.
Instead, my mom and I split a chocolate-chip cookie with chunks of Reese's peanut-butter cups.
It was finger-licking good after sitting in the sun for 20 minutes.
The cookie (463 calories) was delicious, but it did melt after being in the sun. We soldiered on and licked the melting chocolate and peanut butter from our fingers.
On our way out — totally full — we passed a bell near the exit that told us to ring if we had great service.
According to a post from the Arby's corporate account on X, formerly known as Twitter, Arby's locations have had a bell to ring since at least 2013.
A Buzzfeed post from 2015 cautioned me that employees actually hate when you ring the bell, and as the place was still almost empty, I decided to just thank our cashier on the way out.
I couldn't have been happier with my $38 Arby's feast. I'll be returning to try even more of the expansive menu ... but I'll make sure I leave room for a Jamocha Shake.
I barely made a dent in Arby's offerings. They have burgers, chicken wings, gyros, Reubens, fish strips, hush-puppies, and more. But I am only one person with one stomach, so I was limited.
But I'll definitely be coming back. I got so much food for a relatively low price — at a New York City sit-down restaurant, this would've cost me $100, easy.
Arby's gained two new fans after this visit, and we can't wait to try more.
Read the original article on Insider