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Category Archives: Drive-through

Kira’s Number 5: Arby’s

The Time:
Friday, May 5th, 2006 (Cinco de Mayo!) around 9 PM

The Place: Arby’s
I love Arby’s. It has always been one of my top 3 favorite fast food restaurants (along with Wendy’s and Jack in the Box, if I had to choose). Since there are multiple Arby’s locations in Bloomington, we decided to go to one that neither of us had been to before, located at 3601 W State Road 46. But I have to give you a warning: If you try to go to this particular Arby’s, it is farther than you think. It is not where Google Maps, Google Earth, Mapquest, or Yellowbook says it is. So we had a little adventure trying to get there. To help explain, here’s a map. (Link rot has destroyed the original map. -Erik, May 2014)

The green is where Google maps says that the address of the Arby’s is, but the red is where we actually found an Arby’s restaurant–a difference of 1.6 miles.

Now 1.6 miles isn’t really that far, except when it seems like you are in the middle of absolute nowhere. There was absolutely nothing at the point where Google thinks that the Arby’s is. If it had been another mile down the road, we would have turned around before we had gotten there. The phone book says that this location is in Bloomington, but I think they are dreaming. According to the boundaries that Google sets for the city of Bloomington, this Arby’s misses by a few miles. Oh well, I love Google even with it’s faults, and this Arby’s is still much closer than most of the places we would’ve be willing to go to in Phoenix.

Arby's interior near closingThe Atmosphere:
They said they weren’t closing for another hour, but half of the chairs were already up. Still, we felt comfortable enough to stay there for almost an hour just talking and enjoying eachother’s company, with no pressure from the staff to get out.

The Food:
In case you don’t know (Erik didn’t know, so don’t feel too bad), Arby’s sounds like R.B’s which stands for Roast Beef. But is it really roast beef? There is something about it. It doesn’t taste like any other kind of roast beef I’ve ever had, but for some reason it tastes sooo good. It makes me not even care if it is real roast beef or not. And I like that they now have different sizes of the roast beef sandwiches. You can choose from Regular, Medium, or Large. I opted for the Medium that day. Erik got a Beef ‘n’ Cheddar Combo with curly fries to share, and we also decided to try their new Market Fresh Roast Beef Gyro. The sandwiches were yummy as usually. I had never tried the Arby’s Sauce, at least not in a long time, so I thought I’d check it out. It is basically BBQ sauce, which was good, but I didn’t think it belonged on my roast beef sandwich. And of course the curly fries were great. (Kira is crazy. Arby’s sauce is awesome. -Erik, May 2014)

Arby's roast beef & cheddar with curly fries

Arby’s roast beef & cheddar with curly fries

We were a little skeptical going in about the gyro. It was their regular roast beef with some gyro spices, tomato, lettuce, onion, and white gyro sauce (usually called tzatziki, or something like that), all in a pita. We got it without the onions, and I only ate some without tomatoes. I thought, how could a gyro made with roast beef be any good? But you know what? I liked it. It wasn’t authentic or anything, but I would consider getting again. The sauce was a mild, but the pita was good and soft. Somehow their “roast beef” almost works in a gyro. For some reason Arby’s tends to make things taste good that you wouldn’t expect them to.

The Service:
Some lady and some guy were the two main people working there. The fries weren’t ready for a few minutes, so the lady was nice and brought them to our table when they were done. Yay hot fries. The other guy working there had all gold teeth. He was nice, too.

The Price:
They do things right. We were trying to figure out if it would be cheaper to order a combo with the gyro or with the roast beef. But it turns out that it would be exactly the same. They just add $2 to each sandwich to make it a combo. Smart people. At other places it ends up being a few cents cheaper one way or the other. But nope, not here. I think our total was around $12 for 3 sandwiches, 1 fries, and a drink. Not too bad.

The Rest:
I’ll say it again, Arby’s one of my favorite fast food joints. And the adventure getting out there was fun, too.

How often would I go back?
Once a week. (what’s this?)

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Erik Eats R.B.

Erik eating a gyro at Arby'sEveryone seems surprised to discover that we’ve included fast food chains in our tour of Bloomington cuisine. I don’t really know why this surprises people. Sure, I don’t get all that excited about Arby’s, but if we didn’t eat there, we really wouldn’t have eaten at every restaurant in alphabetical order, now would we? I can think of quite a few reasons why we should include the fast food chains in our project:

  1. Deciding what counts as a chain restaurant is annoying. If the restaurant has one other location down in Indianapolis, does that mean we should leave it out? We could set an arbitrary limit, but that doesn’t leave me satisfied.
  2. Deciding what counts as fast food is annoying. What about pizza joints? Taco stands? Felafel shops?
  3. Having grown up in the Southwest, we haven’t eaten at every franchise in the area. For example, I’d never eaten at a White Castle before visiting Bloomington. Not that I particularly like White Castle, but now I get to write about how much it disappointed me.
  4. Since most people already know whether or not they like a particular chain, we can focus on other aspects in our reports, such as the fact that what they call Hardee’s around here gets the name Carl’s Jr. back in the Southwest (same logo, same commercials, same menu, but different name). We get to try out weird menu items like quesadilla burgers. We get to point out differences between the various locations of a single chain.

As we currently do things, it feels like cheating when we eat at just one location per chain. To make up for this guilty feeling, we decided to eat at the furthest Arby’s that our phone book still considered part of Bloomington. For those of you from larger cities, keep in mind that at its widest point, the city only measures seven miles. In fact, after a few minutes of fiddling on Google Earth, I couldn’t find two spots in the city that have more than eleven miles of road between them. Granted, Google Earth doesn’t always give perfect results. Case in point: the Arby’s we drove to sits on a road that doesn’t actually appear on Google Earth’s map. You can see it on the satellite, but the map thinks the road goes somewhere else. As a result, we had to drive quite a bit further down the road than our beloved Google had lead us to believe. (It’s been eight years now, and Google Maps is considerably more up-to-date than it was. -Erik, May 2014)

Google Earth's opinion regarding the location of Arby's

Thankfully, I have no sense of distance, or I would have turned back much earlier. The area we drove through slowly became less civilized until I had half convinced myself that we’d completely left Bloomington and gone a not insignificant part of the way to Terre Haute. Eventually, a strip mall appeared out of nowhere like a mirage on the horizon. Arby's appearing like a mirageThe strip mall did have other establishments, but they had all closed down for the evening, lending the place an eerie, deserted look.

But the Arby’s hadn’t closed yet, and we headed on in. A few other customers stood in line, ordering their food, but the staff seemed so used to slow service in the evenings that they’d already started cleaning up despite the fact that nearly two hours separated then from closing time. Normally, this sort of behavior makes me feel awkward, as though keeping the employees working for their entire schedule would deprive some poor minimum wager of their only major benefit (besides free curly fries), but in this case the staff remained quite friendly and helpful, even while they wiped down the tables and stacked up the chairs.

I normally order as big a roast beef sandwich as possible, sometimes with the Beef ‘n Cheddar cheese sauce, but this time I wanted to try something new, so I ordered an ordinarily sized Beef ‘n Cheddar and decided to fill myself the rest of the way up with the new Market Fresh Roast Beef Gyro.

Arby’s seems to serve two different types of food (at least as near as Kira and I can tell). In the first category lives their roast beef sandwich. I love the Arby’s roast beef sandwich, but I must admit that the substance that they call “roast beef” bears very little resemblance to any roast beef I’ve eaten anywhere else. I’ve seen them slice the stuff in the kitchen off of what looks like a side of roast beef, so I know they don’t chop up and reconstitute the stuff like Chicken McNuggets or bologna. But it has a texture and a flavor completely unlike any other meat-like substance I’ve ever consumed. I could say the same for the sauce on the Beef ‘n Cheddar that gets called “cheddar cheese.” I still like it, but it tastes more like what Velveeta strives for than it does like something that ever saw the inside of a mammary gland.

The second variety of food that I’ve eaten from Arby’s includes a surprising variety of food items from which I would normally shy away, given that they appeared on a fast food menu. This includes their Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich, their Corned Beef Reuben, and, to a lesser extent, their French Dip. These actually taste like real food, and while the items don’t taste quite as good as their full-service restaurant counterparts, they don’t make me feel like I’ve eaten the large amounts of preservatives and colorings that I must have. I wondered which category the gyro would fall into.

Close-up of the Arby's gyroNeither category seemed appropriate for the gyro. They had taken their normal “roast beef” and put it on a decent pita with reasonably fresh vegetables, some vaguely gyro-like spices, and something that wouldn’t completely disgrace the name “tzatziki,” even though Arby’s insists on calling it a “creamy gyro sauce.” The result struck me as… odd. It didn’t exactly disgust me, but I wouldn’t pay money for it ever again.

Thankfully, the Beef ‘n Cheddar with extra Arby’s Sauce and the curly fries remained as tasty as always.

Erik’s Rating: Yum – 4, Ooh – 4, Ah – 3.5, Wow – 3.5 (Huh?)

 

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Arby’s

Arby's signA fast food restaurant (all Bloomington locations have a drive-through) featuring “roast beef” sandwiches.

3300 W 3rd St
812-334-1657

535 S Walnut St
812-332-1599

1717 N College Ave
812-336-2250

2713 E 3rd St
812-332-1665

3601 W State Road 46 (We reviewed this location. Here is a map.)
812-935-8686

Hours:
vary

Website: www.arbys.com
Menu: http://arbys.com/our-menu

(Info updated April 2014. -Erik)

Erik’s Ratings: Yum – 4, Ooh – 4, Ah – 3.5, Wow – 3.5 (Huh?)

How often would Kira eat there?
Once a week. (what’s this?)

Reviews:
Kira
Erik

 

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