October 6, 2020
“For those who know, to Conrad’s they go’” as the paper menu for the popular fried food and wrap spot says. It’s become so popular, that they’ve expanded into three East Lansing locations. But is there one location that has an edge over the others? For research purposes, I took it upon myself to visit each one and document its nuances. But I wasn’t about to get a massive sampler of wraps. One of the draws of the restaurant is its delicious, filling food at affordable prices. So, after surveying my fellow writers and editors at The Current, I settled on the Honey Mustard Barbecue wrap. My rating criteria are as follows:
- Wait time – The HMBBQ has chicken tenders, which they usually have to fry up to order. So the idea is that this will give me a good scope of a maximum wait time.
- Wrap construction – This includes the ratio of all the ingredients in the wrap, as well as sauce quality and quantity. This particular item has two delicious sauces, so each location’s ratio of honey mustard to barbecue will be under scrutiny.
- Lobby size – In a pandemic this doesn’t matter as much, but on a widespread disease-free night of homecoming week? The more hungry people the lobby can fit, the better.
- Ambiance – Are the staff friendly? Is there fun stuff on the walls to read while you wait for your food? I kept my eye out for that je ne sais quois that makes the place so iconic.
Armed with my iPhone notes app and a friend that had never been to Conrads in their life, I set off on my journey. I visited all three locations (Frandor, West Grand River and the corner of Spartan and Grand River), but unfortunately the West GR location was closed due to the pandemic. So, here I present my findings on the remaining locations.
Wait time: about five minutes. I arrived a little after 5:00 p.m., and there were delivery orders piled up high. Even with a dinner rush, this is pretty typical for any of the chicken tender wraps since the tendies take extra time in the fryer.
Wrap construction: meh. The actual wrapping of the tortilla was secure, but a bit lumpy. To the positive, after cutting the wrap in half, there were beautiful striations of tater tot and tortilla. It was really quite impressive. After taking a bite, however, I faced disappointment. The wrap was dry! It had two delicious sauces to work with and under delivered on both of them. That being said, I’ve never had a bad Conrad’s wrap before, so everything is relative.
Lobby size: “quaint.” It was tiny. On a normal, pandemic-free day, I could see about 15 people waiting comfortably. If they huddled together like drunk penguins seeking warmth, then probably more.
X-factor: The playlist was pretty killer. There were about five people working there that I could see and they were all singing and dancing (while wearing masks covering their mouth and nose! I checked!) along to Bruno Mars’ “24k Magic.” Even though the wrap left something to be desired, the ordering and waiting experience partially made up for it.
West Grand River: more data needed.
This location is closed until, as the sign on the door says, “things go back to normal.” While I have ordered the honey mustard barbecue wrap from this location during The Before Time, I was not in Investigative Journalism mode. So, for the sake of fairness, I do recall the wrap being delicious but cannot speak to the overall experience.
Grand River and Spartan: 4.5/5
Wait time: on par with that of Frandor. This location only had two people working in the building and one delivery driver. My friend’s “best one” wrap, being chicken tender free, was finished a few minutes before my HMBBQ. But again, this was expected.
Wrap construction: yummy. The folds of the tortilla were secure and symmetrical. The interior wasn’t as beautiful as the one from Frandor, but the sauces were *chef’s kiss.* It was a perfect blend of honey mustard and barbecue flavor found in every delicious bite. On their “best one,” my friend said, “this with a Frosty and everything’s perfect.” So, clearly, they aren’t slacking on taste.
Lobby size: definitely the biggest of the three. I’ve seen this place full of people during the days of yore and it can easily fit 30.
X-factor: kind of odd. The two dudes working there had a mellow, meditative instrumental playlist going, which was a considerable contrast to the dance party I witnessed at Frandor. This didn’t pair well with the fact that my friend and I were the only two people there. Luckily, this location has the most stuff to look at to distract from the silence.
With this limited sample size, I have to mention the fact that this is in no way meant to be conclusive. After this short analysis, both locations still in operation are locked in a close race. So no matter which location you find yourself at, I can confidently say you’re in for some delicious fried food. After all, the best Conrad’s will always be whichever one you’re in the delivery zone for.
Megan Elias is a senior double majoring in professional writing and linguistics with a minor in graphic design. In addition to working at The Current, she is also the content editor at Sherlockian.net and the junior history editor at The Tempest magazine. When she’s not working, she can be found riding around campus on her longboard or playing Tetris 99.