Burger Island: Fast Food Done Right

It might seem strange that I’m reviewing a fast food joint here, where I’ve reviewed Fearing’s and the Mansion. But hey, in this economy, it’s nice to occasionally be able to eat out for $10 per person and come away feeling stuffed. And admit it: if you’re human, every now and then you get a craving for something that’s neither fancy nor particularly healthy. Last night’s trip to Burger Island on Lakeview Parkway in Rowlett satisfied that craving – and then some.

I very rarely eat fast food. I don’t eat beef so hamburgers are out. I’m not crazy about fries. It’s been at least a decade, maybe two, since I’ve tasted anything from Burger King or McDonald’s or Wendy’s or the like. But Tom has different tastes. He is a steak and potatoes kind of guy, but he’ll settle for a big burger and tator tots, which are easier on the pocketbook and the teeth. Sometimes I catch him surfing the Carl’s Jr. web site, indulging in what he calls “food porn.”

He was really thrilled to discover that Burger Island had opened up in the Tom Thumb shopping center, and even happier when he found out that they deliver. We’ve discussed in the past why it is that only pizza places and Chinese restaurants seem to appreciate that customers will pay a little extra to not have to go out and hunt down their dinners. I can understand why ice cream parlors don’t deliver, but how is a burger any less appropriate for delivery than a pizza, especially when much of the time, people are ordering them as take-out and driving them home anyway?

Nonetheless, we decided to check the place out in person the first time. It’s not the Mansion by a long shot, but the restaurant interior is a step above the average fast food place. No molded plastic; tables and chairs are wood (and the chairs are upholstered). There are several flat panel TVs mounted on the walls, but the place isn’t loud and raucous. There’s a bit of a tropical motif going on. You can see photos of the interior here: http://www.burgerislandonline.com/About.html 

The menu contains the expected slate of burgers: the Big Island, the Jungle Burger, the Jalapeno Cheeseburger, the Double Deluxe, the Bacon Cheeseburger and many more. For those like me, who don’t do beef/pork, there’s also a Turkey Cheeseburger and for those who don’t eat any kind of meat, there’s even a Vegetable Cheeseburger. There are also a variety of subs. Then there is a great selection of chicken sandwiches: Chicken Philly, Jungle Chicken, Spinach Chicken, BBQ Chicken and plain old Grilled Chicken. I got the last one, and it was absolutely great. A huge slice of chicken breast with mayo, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and pickles. None of this weird stuff you see on the grilled chicken sandwiches at Chili’s and similar places, no buffalo sauce or honey mustard – just the basics. That’s the way I like it, and I liked this one.

Tom got two burgers. The first was a Jungle Burger, which includes sauteed onions, mushrooms, jalapenos, bell peppers, American and Provolone cheese, tomatoes, bacon and the full slate of condiments: mayo, ketchup, hickory sauce and mustard. Way too much “fixings” for me, but he seemed to like it, since he scarfed it down in record time. The second is a Hawaiian Cheeseburger, with big chunks of pineapple.  It took me a bit longer to consume my chicken sandwich. One thing we noticed right away was that, unlike many places that pile a huge amount of meat and cheese into a tiny bun, Burger Island uses big buns that are up to the task of holding all the food inside them. 

They offer the  usual side orders/appetizers: seasoned fries, tator tots, chili cheese fries, onion rings, mozzarella sticks, chicken strips. But there are also some choices that you don’t see at the typical fast food restaurant: fried mushrooms, fried pickles, shrimp basket, stuffed jalapenos and my all-time favorite: fried clam strips. This is actually the reason I agreed to go there in the first place. I love clam strips, and they’re getting harder to find. That used to be the reason I went to Joe’s Crab Shack, but recently they (or at least the one near us) took them off the menu. You can get them at Red Lobster, but they’re tiny little things, and you can’t get mustard to go with them. Seriously. I’ve asked, and all they have is honey mustard. Not the same. I want regular old French’s yellow mustard with my clam strips. Burger Island not only has mustard; they have a bottle of it sitting on each table. They earned five stars from me for that.

So, as you can probably guess, I also got clam strips to go with my chicken sandwich. Normally a chicken sandwich and clam strips would be a pretty hearty meal, but not overly so. But when you combine the size of that sandwich with the extremely generous portion of clam strips I got, I couldn’t even finish it all in one sitting. And the clams were very good – large meaty strips, not the tiny slivers of clam that you get at many places. Tom got an order of tator tots to go with his burgers and again, it was huge. I didn’t count the number of tots but it had at least three times as many as you get at most fast food places.

In addition to the menu options I’ve mentioned, you can also get beef or chicken nachos, quesadillas in a variety of configurations (beef and cheese, spinach and cheese, chicken and cheese or cheese only) and there’s also a nice selection of salads: dinner, garden, chef, grilled chicken, beef, shrimp or Caesar. There’s also a kid’s menu with corny dog bits, grilled cheese sandwich and junior versions of some of the other dishes, and for dessert (if you somehow still have room for dessert), you can order cheesecake, apple pie, or ice cream.

You can see the full menu here: http://www.burgerislandonline.com/Menu.html 

So … we saved a little money this weekend and still had a great eating experience. Due to the calorie count, it’s not something I could or would do on a weekly basis, but as an every-once-in-a-while splurge, it fits the bill. I have a feeling they’ll be getting some delivery orders from my husband in the future.

deb@shinder.net   www.debshinder.com

About debshinder

Technology analyst and author, specializing in enterprise security. Author of or contributor to over 25 books, including "Scene of the Cybercrime." Fourteen-year Microsoft MVP, married to Microsoft FTE Tom Shinder, and proud mom of two wonderful grown-up human children and three amazing Japanese Chin pups. In my spare time, I love to travel - especially on cruise ships - and write about my grand adventures.
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