Yes, it is a bit strange that I am reviewing a fast food restaurant, but this particular one is a decadent pleasure for me. In-n-Out Burger is a Western US chain with just over 250 locations spanning California, Arizona, Nevada and Utah. Oh yeah, and Texas…as long as you consider Dallas/Fort Worth part of Texas.
The rest of the country will just have to wait for expansion…
In-n-Out has the vibe of a fast food restaurant but not a lot of the baggage. They don’t start cooking your burger until you order it, so you are typically looking at least a 10 minute wait. An eternity in our microwave society. I think it is easily worth the wait, so I guess that makes me a fast foodie!
To get an idea just how maniacal they are about quality, take a jaunt to their website and read through the link on food quality. I won’t go through the whole thing word for word, but they are so crazy that they butcher and grind their own chuck at their own facilities in California and Texas to insure that they get the quality that they are looking for.
My favorite quote from the website:
“In fact, we don’t even own a microwave, heat lamp, or freezer. We even bake our buns using old-fashioned, slow-rising sponge dough. And we make every burger one at a time, cooked fresh to order.”
So on top of hand cutting the potatoes for fries, hand leafing the lettuce, using actual cheese and hand dipping their shakes none of their product is ever frozen. Ever.
That is stupidly impressive! I don’t think you will ever see “Billions Served” outside of one of their shops and I don’t think they care one, little bit.
The menu, as you can see from the pic above, is simplicity itself. 4 burger options on the left and drinks and shakes on the right. You can make it a combo if you want fries, and trust me, you do. It doesn’t get much more basic than that. This laser focus on so few items allows them to make the products at a really high quality level.
Of course, there are some secret handshake options that are not on the menu… they really like it when you order the low carb/protein version as “bunny style”!
One of the things that struck me is that almost all the In-n-Outs that I have been to are staffed by teenagers. Unlike some other drive through establishments I have been to these employees are in constant motion. Everybody is hoofing it hard and most of them are cooking! They actually seem to care about the service aspect of their job.
When I ordered my burger I was told my order number was 94. I asked the guy waiting on me what number they were on currently, he got that dazed look that I knew meant he had no idea what number was up. So, he stopped what he was doing and walked back to the grill to see what number was coming up next. He then came back to tell me “84”. Simple and basic, but far more than I would ever get from McDonald’s or Burger King.
The wait for 94 seemed interminable but finally my double-double with cheese, no onions, no special sauce add ketchup and mustard came up. $6.63 of pure bliss.
If the picture above doesn’t make you hungry, than you are obviously a vegetarian and I apologize for offending your sensibilities…of course if you are a vegetarian, why are you reading this?
Thin patties hot off the grill with just enough char to have a bit of crunch, melty cheese and lettuce and tomato that had been just added so they were still cool to add a delightful contrast to the burger. I also love the fact that when you ask for no special sauce (basically thousand island dressing) they immediately ask you what you would like to substitute.
Although I didn’t see the fries drop, I saw them come out of the fryer, onto a rack and then onto my order. They were hot enough to make me wince when I grabbed the first one and had that level of crunch which I assume they HAD to fry twice to achieve.
Altogether a lovely, messy, and completely satisfying experience. I enjoyed every bite. I will have to live on the elliptical to make up for it.
It is probably good the nearest In-n-Out is more than 500 miles from me, otherwise I would be the size of a house!
Click here to find one that is (hopefully!) close to you!
In-N-Out Burgers Corporate Office
4199 Campus Drive, 9th Floor
Irvine, CA 92612
And just to loop this around to have a “Tech” bent to go with food portion here is a link to the official In-n-Out Restaurant finder for the iPhone!