Wayback Burgers on Fairway. Clearly a chain based on nostalgia as a marketing angle, but nostalgia of what period? The stools at the counter spots scream 50’s while the music (Red Hot Chili Peppers Give It Away, and others) was squarely in the 90’s. The rest of the place is fairly modern and nondescript. I’m not sure that era really matters here though. The entire concept seems to be unapologetically greasy fast food with a consistency that is hard to match. This is a much larger chain than I expected. California has less than 10 locations, but they seem to have a significant presence from the East Coast all the way to Texas.
I’ve been here a handful of times over the years since I first noticed it. It’s exactly what you might expect – burgers, fries and shakes as the main items. They also have tots and onion rings for side choices. I think I’ve always ordered the same burger, The Cheeeesy, occasionally making a minor modification by adding bacon. For sides I’ve also always ordered tots. The Cajun Tots with a Cajun Remoulade was my first introduction to them. It’s still on the menu and it was great, but today I was drawn to their currently promoted item, the Fried Cheese Curds.
My complete order: The Cheeeesy (We encourage you to pronounce all four E’s when you order. Four slices of melted American cheese and two beef patties cooked-to-order, sandwiched between an inverted, grilled, and buttered bun)[$9.49], Fried Cheese Curds (Crispy fried cheddar cheese)[$4.99] and a fountain drink [$2.89]. I got the cutest little metal table number, filled up at the fountains further back in the narrow dining room space, then found a table up front. My order was delivered in a shockingly quick three minutes, much faster than usual, although they tend to be fairly quick.
Everything looked beautiful. The curds were a perfect golden fried color with some extra little flakes that might have been salt or some kind of seasoning. They were, overall, a bit on the saltier side. Although the menu says “with dip,” and shows what looks like ketchup (Wisconsinites may shudder, what no ranch?), but I was neither provided with nor offered any dipping sauces. No matter, these were perfectly enjoyable with no dip. The cheese wasn’t quite as stretchy as the real deal, such as what I enjoyed on a trip to Marieke Gouda in Thorp, WI (some photos below), but they had plenty of cheesy goodness inside for a fast food version.
The burger, oh man, the burger. This thing never disappoints. Four slices of perfectly melty, surprisingly flavorful American cheese hold the two greasy beef patties in place between the buttery grilled bun. This thing glistens in the light. It’s maybe the perfect hangover burger. Juicy, cheesy and flavorful to the last bite. I freaking love this monstrosity.
This visit was not unlike my previous times. Fast, friendly service coupled with excellent junk food done perfectly every time. It’s slightly pricier than a fast food joint but the quality is far superior in by opinion. I dig it.