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Hardee's opinions wanted.

jrvedivici Sep 5, 2012 06:28 AM

Ok my “southern” Chowhounders I need some help or advise from you. It has been brought to my attention the chain Hardee’s is looking to make a presence for itself in the New Jersey Market where I am located. I have been told that from Delaware South Hardee’s is the preferred fast food/burger restaurant than Mc’Donalds or others of that nature in its competing areas.

I did a search and found Hardee’s mentioned in a few threads but didn’t find any dedicated to it so I’m starting this just to hear as many opinion of the good and bad of the Hardee’s restaurant(s) as a whole. Give me your opinions please….your responses are greatly appreciated.

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  1. r
    rockycat Sep 5, 2012 06:57 AM

    The good - For fast food burgers, Hardee's food is genuinely good. The burgers are reasonably tasty, although I can't comment on the LTO's and "fancy" loaded burgers since I generally prefer simpler burgers. The onion rings are actually good. The best fast food onion rings IMHO, at least among those available in my area. The ice cream is hand-dipped and IIRC, it's Hershey's so you should be familiar with it. Not the best, but at least it's real ice cream, as opposed to say Chick-Fil-A's "ice dream" AKA ice milk. They have semi-table service, meaning you order at the counter and the food is brought to your table.

    The bad - To me, it's their advertising and what it says about how they feel about their customers. Except for their most recent commercial which, in a big change for Hardee's is all about beefcake, their commercials are all highly sexualized and usually come down to watching a well-endowed woman have sex with a hamburger. I'm sure many of you have no problem at all with that but I have a big problem with what that says about the company's attitude about women and what type of customer they hope to attract. As a result, even though I like Hardee's food I generally avoid eating there. The choice, of course, is purely up to you.

    2 Replies
    1. re: rockycat
      NonnieMuss Sep 5, 2012 11:38 AM

      I can't imagine anyone calling their food "preferred" in the South. We have 4 in our (Southern)city, and they are only located in bad neighborhoods. I can't imagine eating in one, so I can't vouch for the table-service. The food is average fast food - not great, not terrible (except the chicken strips - yuck!). It's never very hot or fresh. Breakfast sandwiches are slightly better than other FF places. I find the prices equal to, or even a little higher than McD's and the like.

      I did, however, get a sausage biscuit at a Hardee's in Alabama that was one of the best things I ever put in my mouth. Maybe it depends on management or staff, but they were definitely serving different food that other Hardee's locations.

      1. re: rockycat
        r
        rasputina Sep 6, 2012 10:57 AM

        Since I've never had their ice cream products I went to their site and checked the ingredient list of the ice dream

        Icedream (whole milk, sugar, nonfat dry milk, cream, corn syrup, natural and artificial flavors, dried whole eggs, cornstarch, mono and diglycerides, disodium phosphate, cellulose gum, carrageenan, sodium phosphate, guar gum, sodium citrate, annatto and caramel colors, artificial color [Yellow 5 & 6]). Cone (enriched flour [wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate {vitamin B1}, riboflavin {vitamin B2}, folic acid], contains 2% or less of cornstarch, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, soy lecithin, baking soda, salt, annatto [for color], vanilla).

      2. l
        laststandchili Sep 5, 2012 07:01 AM

        I hit their Bridgeville DE location on the way to or from the beach a couple times a year, usually at breakfast time.

        Biscuit sandwich with breaded pork chop and sausage gravy.

        What else do you need to know?

        1. Dax Sep 5, 2012 09:48 AM

          I do not think they are the preferred burger/burger restaurant in the South at all. They are definitely further down the list when compared to McD, BK, Wendy's and even Chic-fil-a (fast food, not burgers). I think their breakfast biscuits are better than any other FF biscuits, but they are super greasy. I rarely eat a burger there.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Dax
            r
            rockycat Sep 5, 2012 10:19 AM

            Preferred is a matter of opinion (and sales figures), of course, but before Hardee's was bought out by the Carl's Jr. people they were headquartered in Rocky Mount, NC where the first company store was located. The story goes that Ray Kroc got the idea for the design of the old McDonald's buildings from Hardee's. I don't know if that's true,though. There is a certain amount of home-town/regional pride, though.

            I did forget about Hardee's breakfast biscuits. They'e pretty darn good and I love me some tenderoin biscuit. But then again, Bo's breakfast biscuits are excellent, too, and no social baggage associated with Bo's.

            1. re: rockycat
              Dax Sep 6, 2012 08:49 AM

              The country ham biscuits are the real deal too. There is one on the way to the BHM airport so I pass by there frequently and sometimes stop in for a breakfast biscuit.

          2. Davwud Sep 5, 2012 11:21 AM

            I'll give you the Coles Notes version.

            It's an above average FF place. You'll not give up a good Indy for it but it beats most in it's class.

            DT

            1. Will Owen Sep 5, 2012 11:31 AM

              I like that they do table service, but the quality of their food is all over the map, in every sense of that phrase. After having gotten some truly good fried chicken at several of them in Nashville, I recommended that during a trip with my brother. So we stopped at one in Poplar Bluff, MO, and there had some of the most wretched chicken either of us had tasted. Snotty service, too.

              Out here in SoCal they're all Carl's Jr., and I'm quite fond of their Six Dollar Burger. Again, some locations have been better than others. My only caveat would be to ask for "sauce" (it's really just mayo) on the side, since otherwise the bun won't make it through the meal without dissolving.

              10 Replies
              1. re: Will Owen
                r
                rasputina Sep 5, 2012 11:49 AM

                Carl's Jr and Hardees are not the same. Not by a long shot.

                1. re: rasputina
                  Will Owen Sep 5, 2012 12:02 PM

                  They share the same look in their advertising since the buyout, and my understanding is that they share at least most of the menu. I know those biscuits are a big hit here.

                  1. re: Will Owen
                    r
                    rasputina Sep 5, 2012 02:39 PM

                    I've eaten there after the buy out. Yes, their sign looks similar. Their food surely was not.

                    1. re: rasputina
                      m
                      malibumike Sep 5, 2012 03:10 PM

                      They are owned by the same company and share many of the same menu items, but in the south they have some specialty items.

                      1. re: malibumike
                        r
                        rasputina Sep 5, 2012 07:29 PM

                        I've eaten at both, Carl's Jr just today actually and Hardee's most recently was last year. I have never eaten breakfast there so my comments are just about the non breakfast items.

                        Online, looking at their website you'd think they served the same food. But when I was there in person, the menu was not the same. Hardees had I think 2 similar type basic burgers as Carl's Jr ( IE the same basic burgers that every FF place has), but none of the other selections. None of the grilled chicken sandwiches for example. I don't like their french fries so I can't compare those but the onion rings at Hardees where not the same as Carl's Jr. And while I've had poorly prepared food at Carls before the food at Hardees was horrible.

                        Maybe this location was a fluke. I don't know, but I'm not wasting my money again to test it out. The only thing I finished of that meal was the drink.

                2. re: Will Owen
                  Dax Sep 6, 2012 08:46 AM

                  Table Service? Not in Alabama.

                  1. re: Dax
                    Davwud Sep 6, 2012 10:46 AM

                    Nope. At least, not in Meridianville or HSV.

                    DT

                    1. re: Davwud
                      Will Owen Sep 6, 2012 02:12 PM

                      To be honest, that Poplar Bluff Hardee's was the last one I've been to, and that was maybe fifteen years ago. But after ordering we did sit down at a table and a rather snippy young woman brought the wretched remains to us …

                      1. re: Will Owen
                        Davwud Sep 6, 2012 03:27 PM

                        My first visit to Hardee's was probably no more than 10 years ago. I'm of the opinion that they upped their game just prior. Which, if memory serves, is one reason why we decided to give it a whirl. Perhaps they did and it's better now. Perhaps we went in with low expectations and were surprised.
                        Either way, of all the FF burgers I've had, it's probably second in my mind.

                        I do love that they have Coke 0 on the fountain. I grab one pert neer every day when I'm at my SIL's.

                        DT

                        1. re: Davwud
                          k
                          kengk Sep 6, 2012 04:22 PM

                          Hardee's made what seems to me to be a big move into this area 20-25 years ago. They were the first national chain in several of the nearby small (pop. 1,000-3,000) towns. They did well for awhile and we were proud to have them.

                          I can't recall a new store being built around here in the past 20 years and can only think of two out of five that I have actually eaten at still being open.

                          I would try Hardee's again if I saw a reasonably prosperous looking location during my travels.

                3. r
                  rasputina Sep 5, 2012 11:45 AM

                  Eh, I'm not really impressed with them. Better fast food is had elsewhere.

                  1. k
                    kengk Sep 5, 2012 03:30 PM

                    The Hardee's in my neck of the deep south are generally disgusting. I would choose any of the other national burger joints ahead of them. I LIKE McDonalds, Wendy's,Burger King etc. so I am not a fast food snob.

                    That said; I don't think they are required to be nasty, by corporate charter, but the ones around here are.

                    1. jrvedivici Sep 6, 2012 06:34 AM

                      Hmmmm so far outside of breakfast it seems the information I have been provided regarding their reputation and popularity in the South (South of Delaware) seems to have been misleading.

                      1. charles_sills Sep 6, 2012 07:43 AM

                        i have had hardees numerous time. (i dont really know why.) its basically just a step above burger king. (burger king is gross). as far as the huge burger joints are concerned, i pretty much always choose wendys.

                        but also it seems what matters more is who is running the particular franchise. the wendys i go to, the food has always been freshly made, and never has anything been screwed up. at the other fast food joints near me, screw ups are pretty common. so it all depends i guess.

                        1. RealMenJulienne Sep 7, 2012 08:52 AM

                          Hardee's burgers are not amazing but put it this way... I have had worse burgers at cheap sit-down chains like Applebees, Chili's, Don Pablos, etc. for twice the price after tax and tip. Hardee's is a fast food burger that is about twice as good as it should be, given its price point.

                          The breakfast there is legitimately good, not just goodfor fast food. I think their biscuits are baked in house and they beat the hell out of biscuits I've had at independent diners or my own kitchen. Their sausage is pleasantly crumbly and heavy on the sage instead of rubbery and lifeless, and their egg resembles an actual griddle-fried egg instead of the standard fast food pressed disk.

                          They also do a serviceable chili dog at some locations, but these can be hard to find.

                          1. carolinadawg Sep 7, 2012 06:02 PM

                            Hardees's menu and advertising is primarily aimed at men in be 18 to 34 yera old age group. If you fit that demographic, you'll probably like it. If not, then you probably won't. I'm curious as to the reason for your post?

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: carolinadawg
                              Will Owen Sep 9, 2012 03:29 PM

                              I must say that I left that target group 37 years ago, which may be why the advertising impresses me not at all. I got that first Six Dollar Burger when I was shooting some appraisal photos out in Santa Clarita - this was when they were a new item - and a Carl's Jr. was the handiest place to stop for lunch, so I was just satisfying my curiosity. I was surprised at how good it was; the service was quite friendly, too, which helped.

                              Although I'm sure the biggest single category of Hardee's/Carl's Jr. customers fall into that targeted area, so I think do most habitual fast-food consumers in general. At any given time of day those will be the people you'll likely see more of. But you'll also see moms with kids, travelling salesmen, high schoolers and office workers, and a few old duffers like me.

                              1. re: Will Owen
                                carolinadawg Sep 9, 2012 03:36 PM

                                Yes, that demographic is the most frequent consumer of fast food, but other chains such as McDonalds are actively chasing other demographics, such as women, with salads, oatmeal, etc. My wife recently went in Hardee's and remarked that there wasn't a single menu item "for her", meaning anything resembling lower cal or healthy.

                              2. re: carolinadawg
                                jrvedivici Sep 10, 2012 06:39 AM

                                @ carolinadog.................It was brought to me as a potential investment.

                                1. re: jrvedivici
                                  carolinadawg Sep 10, 2012 06:51 AM

                                  Thanks, that was my assumption. If it were me, I'd look at it very hard. As I have said, they have focussed on a very narrow market, imo.

                                  1. re: carolinadawg
                                    jrvedivici Sep 10, 2012 08:21 AM

                                    To be perfectly honest I had very little interest except for the fact the person who brought it to me is a close relative and really seemed convinced of their reputation/poplularity in the "south". I have already sent him a copy of this thread to show the feeback which at a guess I would say is 60% - 70% negative overall. (With the exception of breakfast which seems to get a much higher approval rating).

                                    1. re: jrvedivici
                                      r
                                      rockycat Sep 10, 2012 11:15 AM

                                      I don't know that I would weight the opinions of CH'ers very heavily in this context. We are, for the most part, nowhere near Hardees' desired demographic and our opinions about food do not, again for the most part, coincide with the majority of fast food-eating Americans.

                                      1. re: rockycat
                                        jrvedivici Sep 11, 2012 08:13 AM

                                        While I do partially agree with you regarding most Chow’s aren’t the prime demographics for Hardees or fast food customers in general I do think they at least have a finger on the pulse of what is going on in their respective areas.

                                        As I previously stated it was told to me that in southern markets where Hardees competes head to head with Mc’Donalds, Burger King or Wendy’s that Hardees is right in the mix of the more popular fast food establishments. So even if most Chow’s don’t necessarily eat there themselves I’m sure if they pass a Hardees and Mc’donalds across the street from each other and there is always a line at Hardees and not Mc’Dondalds I would have heard about it thus far in this thread. (as you see nobody has remotely supported that)

                                        The bottom line and I thank you all for this.....I was suppose to take a day trip down to the Delaware, Maryland area to check out a few of the locations and see what kind of business they are doing. This thread was my first exploration into this potential “investment” and after reading everything thus far you have all saved me a hundred or two in gas because what little interest I had has been diminished.

                              3. DiveFan Sep 7, 2012 06:02 PM

                                I'll have to disagree at least about the biscuits.

                                I was impressed with Hardees thirty years ago when I traveled a lot in the southeastern states. Their biscuits and breakfast items were more than acceptable for a fast food place.

                                Unfortunately when CKE of Carls Jr fame bought them, their corporate standardized industrial ingredients list came along and quality dived - cardboard biscuits anyone? Even my Wisconsin / Minnesota relatives said 'crap alert - stay away'. I can't say that they've returned to the biscuit recipe of old IMO. Perhaps there a few locations who can 'fudge' the standard process to get better results.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: DiveFan
                                  Will Owen Sep 9, 2012 03:34 PM

                                  As recently as 1997 - the last time I was in Gainesville, GA for the Mitty Challenge at Road Atlanta - the only breakfast available near our motel was a Hardee's, and the biscuits and sausage were excellent. My only problem was that I was trying to hold down my fat intake and have nothing more caloric than an Egg McMuffin, but my friend was not going to drive the van and its car-hauler over to McDonald's; if I wanted breakfast I had to walk there. So what the hell … I had two of them!

                                2. m
                                  mpjmph Sep 10, 2012 11:39 AM

                                  I'm from North Carolina, and Eastern NC at that. I always saw Hardee's and the bottom of the barrel for fast food. They were preferable to KFC when they introduced fried chicken, but that isn't universally available now. Until recently, my last Hardee's stop was some time in the late 1990's when I was passing through Rocky Mount on my way to take my grandmother back to her house. We chose Hardee's because a fully loaded school activity bus has just stopped at the McD's across the street. I remember wishing I has braved the crowds at McD's. A few weeks ago I went through the drive through near home and got a chicken biscuit after my weekly long run (usually get pancakes with the running group, but there were scheduling conflicts). Hardee's was convenient and I was hungry. The biscuit was one of the best fast food biscuit I've had, and the chicken was above average. The "hash rounds" were not good - overly greasy. All told, I still don't think I will choose Hardee's over other fast food options, and I certainly wouldn't invest in the company (except maybe in a franchise for a town that doesn't have any other fast food options).

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: mpjmph
                                    Will Owen Sep 14, 2012 04:30 PM

                                    The Carl's Jr. stores here have been pushing their biscuits hard - I think they must have bumped the recipe, and they have been bragging about how they're freshly baked on-site. I recall that Hardee's biscuit of fifteen or so years ago as remarkably good, too, so I think I owe it to myself, and the general spread of biscuit knowledge (so hard to come by in SoCal!) to drop in at my local and get some. Pardon, I mean "git me some."

                                    1. re: Will Owen
                                      m
                                      mpjmph Sep 14, 2012 06:18 PM

                                      Definitely worth a try. I wonder is biscuits are one of the items that wasn't standardized across the two chains. Hardee's have long advertised their fresh, made from scratch biscuits.

                                      I ended up at Hardee's for lunch today on a long drive home from the coast. The hand breaded chicken tenders were pretty good, and the kids meal size was just right.

                                      1. re: mpjmph
                                        Will Owen Sep 15, 2012 11:38 AM

                                        Seems to me CJr has had biscuits for some time - not absolutely sure, since they aren't my usual FF choice for breakfast - but then suddenly they started bragging about them with prominent signage, even posting employees out on the sidewalk holding up signs. So perhaps they'd previously been using commercially baked and delivered biscuits - not uncommon in SoCal - and then had switched over to Hardee's recipe and begun baking in-house. This is all speculation, of course, but it seems reasonable.

                                      2. re: Will Owen
                                        tracylee Sep 15, 2012 11:57 AM

                                        The other day I saw a guy waving a sign on the sidewalk outside Carl's Jr. advertising that they're selling Hardee's Biscuits. I thought of this thread.

                                    2. j
                                      Janet from Richmond Sep 15, 2012 07:04 AM

                                      Another southernern saying Hardee's is not prefered. It's not horrible either.

                                      Solid fast food burger, great chicken tenders and onion rings, good breakfast biscuits.

                                      1. c
                                        CyndiA Sep 29, 2012 08:46 PM

                                        I am from the South, and I am familiar with Hardee's.

                                        In the past, the restaurant did a lot of breakfast business. In most locations, the biscuits are fabulous, but it depends on the bread maker. Ingredients are pre-measured, but the biscuits are from scratch. Our church had the makings donated once (for a fundraiser dinner), and I was able to work with the products while a neighbor tanked hers. In the Virginia mountains, biscuit makers put out Hardees biscuits that beat most home scratch biscuits by a long mile.

                                        Up until the last five years or so, breakfast was great at Hardees, but the burgers were horrible. The fries also were not very good. Then, they came in with the angus burgers. Local locations now have burgers that taste quite good for fast food but do cost more compared to Burger King or McDonalds.

                                        As far as the South, it seems seniors are the biggest patrons and for breakfast. They offer a discount, so they have a lot of older people for breakfast. I think that may be why the ad campaigns shoot for males and younger, but the ads are often awful. They try for the cool effect, but they miss by a long shot.

                                        Straight up food? At solid locations, they have some of the best biscuits (esp with gravy) around, and the burgers are a step up from most fast food places. French fries still are not very amazing.

                                        1. b
                                          Bobfrmia Oct 2, 2012 01:10 PM

                                          Hardee's lures me in once every year or so with the crazy variety of burgers they dream up. I'm always disappointed, but I never seem to learn.
                                          There aren't any very close to me, so it's not a big problem, yet.
                                          There used to be one up the street from me. It closed around 1999. The space has since been a dozen different things. They cleared the land recently, and are building a new structure. I checked to see what it is becoming, surprise, a Hardee's. When I heard that I thought of an old song lyric, "For it must end as it began, and then, start again". I put on Uriah Heep and played "Echoes in the Dark". Best thing Hardee's ever did for me.

                                          1. John E. Dec 3, 2012 08:24 PM

                                            Years ago I was a Hardees fan. They did biscuits before McDonalds did. I liked their breakfast biscuits, biscuits and gravy, and the sweet biscuit with raisins. They had good roast beef sandwiches as well. Their hamburgers were mediocre. Then about 20 years ago they found themselves slipping. They added fried chicken. The problem was, they were not really a chicken place. They needed to sell 300 pieces of chicken per day just to break even. (I used to know a guy who was a regional manager for a Hardees franchisee who owned about 18 stores). I don't know when Carls Jr. took over Hardees but a big change was made to emphasize the big burgers ($6 burger). I've only been back to Hardees twice since that time, once for breakfast and once for a burger. The problem I have with Hardees is that their burgers are now about 1,500 calories, 100 grams of fat and about 2,000 mg of sodium.

                                            1. v
                                              vickilaw Feb 27, 2014 03:02 PM

                                              I'm glad I found this page! I just moved to western NC after living in FL for 30 years. There are no Hardees in Florida, but there's one in the new town I live in. Thought I'd check it out. The burgers - though they do have a broiler mark on them - remind me of the boxed frozen burgers you get at Sam's Club. They seemed more like meatloaf than a burger. Maybe it's just "culture shock," but I'd prefer the devil I do know - McDonald's, BK, or Wendy's.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: vickilaw
                                                carolinadawg Feb 27, 2014 05:15 PM

                                                Welcome to Chowhound! I hope you'll check out the Southeast Board for tips on good chow in your new home.

                                              2. g
                                                gfr1111 Feb 27, 2014 03:29 PM

                                                In reading this discussion, someone said that there are no Hardee's in Florida. I can't find the post of the person who said that, now. But anyway, not true. There is one in Arcadia (or was--I haven't been there in years) and one by the exit off I-4 by the Rooms to Go warehouse, just outside of Tampa.

                                                Hardee's had an identity problem for a long time. Hardee's management could not figure out what it specialized in and tried a whole bunch of approaches and different foods. I like that. Variety is the spice of life. They tried a heavy emphasis on Mexican food . . . and burgers, a heavy emphasis on roast beef and other sandwiches . . . and burgers, a heavy emphasis on bready things . . . and burgers.

                                                Since Carl's, Jr. bought them, they have become the large burger place . . . and (regular-sized) burgers.

                                                Their biscuits and breakfast food are the best things that they do. They do a McDonald's-style scrambled eggs and sausage in a tortilla thing which was far bigger and better than McDonald's (and cost a lot more, too).

                                                Hardee's changes its menu so much that I wouldn't be surprised if any of the items which I have mentioned have already disappeared. (I haven't been there in a few years.) But that's nice--you never know what surprises are in store for you when you go to a Hardee's.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: gfr1111
                                                  carolinadawg Feb 27, 2014 05:14 PM

                                                  The post immediately above yours is the one that said there are no Hardees in FL. There are actually about two dozen, mostly in the Daytona/Orlando/Tampa areas. It's a large state...obviously the other poster lived in a different part of FL.

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