Advance Taste Test: Carl's Jr. Is Coming To Australia

US hamburger chain Carl's Jr. has announced plans to expand to Australia. To give you an idea of what's coming, we headed to the chain's downtown San Francisco branch to test out one of its signature burgers: the Big Carl.

Having already expanded from its West Coast origins into New Zealand, Carl's Jr. has set Australia as its next target. The first stores will open on the NSW Central Coast later this year, with 10 set to open across the state in 2014 (though none will be in Sydney).

The marketing for Carl's Jr. is unashamedly sexist; our sibling site Business Insider acknowledges it as the home of the "slutburger". Any chain which hires Paris Hilton for its ads is not aiming upmarket, let's face it. Here's a typical sample:

Marketing aside, however, we're talking something that's very much in the same space as McDonald's and Hungry Jack's in terms of menu options. One attempt at differentiation is the "Six Dollar Burger", which claims better quality than your typical takeout slab of beef (a tactic also used locally by Macca's with its "A Little Bit Fancy" campaign").

Some US stores also offer table service: after ordering your burger to eat in, it will be delivered to your seat. I've tried this out in Los Angeles, and I have to say it beats standing around waiting for a number to be called.

In the end, though, what you eat is what matters. Since I'm currently in San Francisco (for Microsoft's Build conference), I headed to the nearest Carl's Jr. to test out a burger for the benefit of Lifehacker Australia readers. The obvious option seemed to be a Big Carl, and that's what I went with, choosing the meal option.

Three observations:

  • A large US drink is ridiculously, moronically large. You could host a pool party in this thing. For the sake of your waistline, choose a diet option. (Though I doubt the Australian store drinks will be quite so bladder-expanding.)
  • I like that the fries show evidence of potato skin. Most Australian fast-food fries make their factory origins all too clear. Again, I don't doubt these ones were machine-cut, but at least the fibre content is higher.
  • The burger itself is satisfactory, but entirely unremarkable. Bread, beef, cheese, sauce; it never varies that much, does it? As something of a US Carl's Jr. veteran, I'd suggest the Jalapeno Thickburger if that comes to Australia.

Score: 7/10


    Carl's junior sounds more like a male prostitution ring than a burger joint.

    Just what Australia does not need. More fattening crap rubbish "food".

      How many humourless, judgmental assholes with superiority complexes can there possibly be here?

        Ate at this joint in LA last year. Nothing going for it. Just salt & fat. Disgusting.

      Needs and wants are 2 different things!!, Aussies like everything from the good ol' US of A so much we should be the 52nd state!!

        you do know America only has 50 states right not 52

          Perhaps they're thinking Canada as 51 and Australia as 52?

      pffft, are you for real? blame the obese not the burger.

      besides, carl's jnr is awesome.

    I know there is no MosBurger in Sydney, but the Brisbane (CBD) store I eat at is fantastic, the food is cheaper than Maccas or HJ's, tastier and they bring it to your table.

    I can not recommend Mosburger enough.

      Love going there,

      Its a great Japanese take on Western Fast Food. A tasty burger with a Japanese twist, great and friendly service and a tatami area!

      I wish there were more outlets.....

      hell yeah! that okonomiyaki burger is fantastic

      I suggest you pop down to Nikumaki Honpo in Warrigal Square (near eight mile plains), they have this thing called the Nikumaki. a riceball wrapped in yakitori pork, cheese and teriyaki sauce then blow torched to perfection. i kid you not... it is amazeballs.

    This confuses me, so it's more expensive than McDonalds and Hungry Jacks, and while better quality than the American McD's and Burger King, probably about on par with local? Fuckit, I'll just get Grill'd.

      +1 for Grill's - fresh ingredients and some level of quality

    You'd think the recent history of failed american chains in Australia would deter them?

      No, We have a bunch that have worked.
      I just want Taco Bell.

        Taco Bell? Why?

        We got a ton Mexican places open now. Salsa's, GyG, MadMex, 2 I can't think of and independants.

        I remember years ago we outfitted the Taco Bell Flagship Australian store, they never actually opened it, turns out what they want to put in the Tacos we don't classify as food.

          I live in Hobart. I think there is on mexican place here.

          Taco Bell is my guilty pleasure, hit it up at least once everytime I hit the states. Those Dorito tacos man.....

    What is up with the women in that add? Halfway through she goes into crazy eye mode.

      She thinks that vaccines cause Austism, so she is crazy.

    But how did it taste? It looks pretty much like a Double Whopper with cheese.

    Hmmm, the Slut-Burger eh? (cue Beavis and Butthead snickering).

    Well, I'm going to look forward to Chris Jager doing his taste test if this chain does make it past the sea of failed ventures and sunken hopes & dreams to land on Aussie soil.

    Honestly, for a beef-based burger, I far prefer to support my local fish and chips store. Better quality and an Aussie taste from a small family business as opposed to these mass produced cardboard "patties" and "Monterey Jack Sauce" from a clueless American corporation.

    Pfft, after all the burger joints popping up here in SA - privately owned pseudo-gourmet ones - i dont think ill even bother with Carl Jnrs.

    i actually like my burgers to have salad in, and be made from real beef mince.

    You've given this thing a 7/10? Really? I'm not sure that your scoring system quite right? Surely a gourmet burger gets you to the 8-10 range, and this looks way short of that.

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