If you’ve driven by the new Braum’s in south west Lubbock on Milwaukee you may’ve done a double-take. You may’ve gasped a little too, or even spewed whatever it was you were drinking onto the windshield. This was my reaction at the line of cars spilling out onto Milwaukee causing moving traffic to completely avoid the lane. Is there something I’m missing about Braum’s? Or has this dumpster fire of a year really gotten to Lubbockites in this cruel, sick way. By cruel I mean how could Oklahoma’s folksy and basic favorite-son-of-a-franchise have so many good and well-meaning people under its sinister spell. By sick, I mean c’mon. They know what they’re selling in there. Even if teeming Tech fans don’t and are willing to wait in line like it’s the second-coming of our lord and savior Pat Mahomes. Those people in there know the product doesn’t match the demand. This got me thinking, maybe Braum’s is delicious and I need to give it a second chance
Lubbock, is Braum’s actually good? Because the Braum’s I know from growing up in Amarillo (we had five! how posh) is the Braum’s in which 95% of patrons had silver hair. It was the Braum’s in which 20% of patrons had a walker. There’s nothing really wrong with that, same as there was nothing wrong with Luby’s. But it was sticky floors, unpolished stainless steel railings, and finger-smudged plexiglas from people who need to point and tap at their ice cream selections beyond the glass. It was a door closer that didn’t work. So one of the front doors always stayed open because by the time the old-timer realized it never closed behind them they were already at the ice cream counter. By that time it was someone else’s problem. The Braum’s I know is a heavy-rotation spot for the Furr’s, Denny’s, and Golden Corral crew.
The Braum’s I know is the Braum’s where high-school kids go to buy weed from the 17 year-old who moved out of his parents house and quit school. He’s not selling the good stuff, necessarily. But he’s always holding. It’s a last resort, for sure. Fortunately, he’s one of the only workers there after 10pm so you don’t have to invent covert operations — which is good because Braum’s weedman is anything but subtle. He’ll even throw in an extra scoop for you, and you don’t even have to ask. That’s the Braum’s I know. The Braum’s I know isn’t bumper-to-bumper until lights-out. The Braum’s I know slows down real early and even so it doesn’t get clean as you think it should with all that downtime.
The Braum’s I know is the Braum’s of cheap excess. It’s the “bag of burgers” spot you might hit when you’re drinking a sixer with your friend who has called you over to tell you all the details about the latest conspiracy theory. It’s not the place you’d pick, especially not at 9:30pm because who eats dinner that late? Your conspiracy theory friend, that’s who. You weren’t even hungry but he said, “Let’s go grab a bag of burgers and I’ll tell you about QAnon and how Trump’s number one goal is to break up an elite worldwide secretive vampire peado cult.” You don’t care about the burgers but you wanna hear what the hell about the vampires.
But how’s the food?
Some Braum’s Food Ranked & Reviewed
Let’s start with the goods. This was a 10-min chocolate shake. Not sure what happened in their workflow, but all the food came out first and we just sat at the window awkwardly looking at the same one or two people at the register for about 10 mins. We watched a lady walk to her car licking a double-dipped cone as it dribbled and dripped melted ice cream all over her corona mask. We became especially worried when the girl who handed us our food appeared to walk out and drive away at the end of her shift. We hoped she’d passed word to the others inside that we were sitting there staring, not enamored with the burger and ice cream restaurant as our fellow lubbockites appeared to be, but indeed waiting. Waiting on a single chocolate shake.
The shake was good and thick. However, I wouldn’t say it tastes drastically different from a Wendy’s Frosty. It’s a little creamier and a little more ‘milk-product’ derived than Wendy’s borderline icy quality. But not worth waiting in line for.
Peanut Butter Cup Shake:
This was pretty tasty. Just enough add-ins to give you the peanut butter cup flavor, without over-loading it. It honestly could’ve been mixed for longer to give it a more consistent texture. It was a little watery in some places and a little too chunky in others. But overall, it was pretty tasty. Almost as tasty as J’s Creamery when they’re on their A-game, better than J’s when they aren’t
1/4-Pound Bacon Cheeseburger:
Sesame seed bun. Mayo. Braum’s sauce. The bread is nice and soft. Their website says it’s baked fresh in Braum’s bakery, which all bread is baked fresh in someone’s bakery. But it seems like they want us to believe it’s baked right inside, in-house. I doubt it is. I’d be surprised if they don’t get it off a truck. The patty is fairly thick for a fast-food burger. The bacon is appropriately portioned, too. Not too chewy and not too crispy hard. The lettuce and tomato are there, which is obviously the only thing worth saying about drive-thru lettuce and tom. Overall, this burger was strikingly similar to Burger King for me. Whataburger is better. Five Guys is way better. But this burger does beat McDonald’s and Burger King as it just tastes a scintilla more fresh. But definitely not worth the wait you’ll have to endure at one of the new Lubbock Braum’s locations. Now the fries…
I love thicc fries. These are hefty lil taters. So if you’re keen on shoestring fries or other skinny varieties look elsewhere cuz these fries curvy. They’re nice and crisp on the outside and softy and steamy on the inside. These were perfectly seasoned, too. Now this maybe the perfect fast-food fry. For me they beat out McDonald’s purely on their crinkle-cut chunkiness. They were served piping hot and generously overflowing from their cardboard cup. Braum’s fries are a winner. But are they worth the long wait in a lane of end-to-end cars like a pre-COVID Black Friday sale? Nah…
Strawberry Poppyseed Salad with Strips:
I heard a lot about the “freshness” of the food at Braum’s so I wanted to test this rumor in the most severe way: by ordering a salad. First off, any establishment that puts hot chicken directly in the to-go container with a cool summer salad is an establishment that doesn’t really understand salad. By the time I got it home 15 minutes later, the lettuce, likely a garden blend from a package, was wilted and warm. The strawberries, blueberries, and pineapple were on the warm side, too. The fruit seemed fresh enough, although a few pieces of pineapple were beginning to get mushy. The poppyseed dressing was ok despite its gravy-like appearance. The croutons were run-of-the-mill high-school cafeteria fodder and trying to stab one with a Braum’s plastic fork was like trying to punch someone in one of those dreams where your arms aren’t moving well and no one can hear you scream. There was a ton of chicken. The salad came with a side of their regular cottage cheese which was a nice touch. However, it’s made from non-fat milk and tastes watery and bland and severely lacking any cultured creaminess. Salad is definitely not worth waiting for and Braum’s may be fresh… but it ain’t fresh enough to ever want a salad. Unless your other option is a McDonald’s, an Allsups, or maybe Buccee’s.
Some Braum’s Breakfast Stuff Reviewed
We all know about the boys from Oklahoma and how they roll their joints all wrong. I’m here to tell you they roll their breakfast burritos wrong, too. I made a breakfast run at 9am on a Sunday morning. There was no line at this time. The tortilla had a hard spot on it like it was made three hours ago and sitting under a heat lamp just wanting for a fool like me to order it. I checked their website and they don’t make any statements about these being fresh-baked in the Braum’s bakery, so I can’t necessarily hold that against them. But that’s not where the atrocities end. In addition to being mostly egg, they put onions, tomatoes, and sliced cheese on it.
The Braum’s breakfast burrito is a no-go. Literally anywhere else is better. Including United —and you all know how I feel about United’s breakfast burritos.
I actually thought this was pretty good. My wife says they reminded her too much of a Honey Bun. I wondered what’s wrong with a Honey Bun? According to their website these too are baked fresh in their own bakery. But to my wife’s point, they do have a texture that reminds me of something that was frozen at one time: an almost spongy and artificially consistent texture with a machine-precise regular crumb. It tasted buttery and yeasty. Gooey. Nice cinnamon and sugar balance. This was a perfectly inoffensive cinnamon roll, but you’ll never mistake it for a Queen of Tarts, Prairie Mom, or Ruffled Cup cinnamon roll — which are the three best cinnamon rolls you can find in Lubbock.
Biscuits and Gravy:
Very peppery. Too peppery for my wife in fact. I love peppery gravy. Good chunks of sausage in it. At McDonalds I feel like they chop up patties, but Braum’s appears to be the real deal crumbles. Very creamy gravy and hot. Sometimes gravy gets gelatinous as it cools off but this Braum’s gravy stayed nice and primo.
Yeah, But Braum’s A2 Milk Is What You Should Get
I did a few blind taste tests around the house and Kirkland’s Whole Milk beat Braum’s A2 whole milk every time. It was fuller and richer tasting than Braum’s milk. The A2 has a distinctive off-flavor to it. It’s almost a metallic or tinny type of an aftertaste that no doubt contributed to its unanimous defeat.
The Best Of Braum’s
I will admit, I’ve slipped into the grocery side of Braum’s on two recent occasions to get a half-pint of ice cream and both the Oatmeal Cookie and Chocolate Pecan have been so tasty. I’m honestly not sure if it’s any tastier than Tillamook, I actually don’t think it’s as creamy; or Blue Bell, it’s definitely not as expensive and BB has better flavor combos. But it’s good and oh so cheap.
I’d say the fries and biscuits and gravy are two items I’d order again.
But the main draw of Braum’s: it’s cheap. Anything they have, you could find a better version of it, quite handily. But you’ll never find it all in one place and you’ll never find it for so cheap. It’s honestly the Wal-Mart of fast food. Which I’m not sure explains the bumper-to-bumper traffic.
I’m going to chalk this phenomenon up to another bizarre manifestation of 2020’s relentless assault on the collective well-being of all the earth’s children.