Do you have that favorite restaurant where you can just close your eyes and imagine taking that gratifying first bite?
Where any resemblance of that eatery’s scent leaves your stomach grumbling and yearning for more?
Are you hungry yet?
I know I am. 🙂
For me, that restaurant is the west coast born and raised chain In-N-Out Burger.
Never heard of In-N-Out burger?
If so, first my apologies for having never experienced the greatest burger on the planet. One reason why you may not have tried it before is that unfortunately, they are only available in 5 states (California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, and Texas).
I say “unfortunately” because I currently reside in Illinois and most days of the year consist of me wallowing in my own self-misery of not being able to enjoy a tasty Double-Double at my leisure.
Just in case you don’t know, the Double-Double is their version of McDonald’s Big Mac only 1,000 times better.
Scratch that. 1,000,000 times better. Yes, it’s that good.
Luckily, my mom retired and relocated to Las Vegas and bought a home approximately 7 miles from an In-N-Out Burger. So I have been making sure to use my airline rewards credit card as much as possible so I can go visit
In-N-Out Burger my mom more often.
As you can imagine, my first stop after leaving the airport is not my mom’s house or some silly casino. Oh no. It’s In-N-Out time!
In-N-Out is So Good.
Double-Double with cheese + fries +chocolate shake = absolute bliss. There isn’t a meal that I could pick to replace that. Well, maybe add another cheeseburger 🙂
It’s good for breakfast, lunch, dinner, brunch, late night snack or even dessert. In-N-Out is the only meal that will make me cry twice. Once, after I take my first bite because it’s so delicious.
I also shed a tear at the last bite, because I don’t know when the next bite will be.
In-N-Out Burger is Fresh
In-N-Out is not your typical fast food restaurant that the meat patties taste like microwaved cardboard. Their patties are free of additives, fillers, and preservatives of any kind.
But it’s just not the meat. The lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese are all fresh, too. I almost forgot the fries! Where most fries come straight out of a bag, In-N-Out cuts their fries at the store one potato at a time.
K-I-S-S: Keep It Simple S……..
Have you noticed how most fast food chains change their menu on a consistent basis? You can order anything from chicken tenders, snack wraps, breakfast burritos and now caramel lattes.
In-N-Out has stuck to their guns and kept the same menu that has led to its continued success: burger, fries, and a drink.
Simple = Perfection.
In-N-Out Burger is a Cult
In-N-Out doesn’t need to run advertising to build its fan base. Word of mouth advertising from its cult fans (people like me) has grown the In-N-Out name into the behemoth that it is today.
When the chain opened a new location in Arizona, there was a four-hour wait to get their mouth on the prize.
In-N-Out has also made the prime time. It’s made appearances in such flicks as Swinger and The Big Lebowski and TV shows Arrested Development and The Simpsons.
Stars such as Angela Jolie, Beyonce’, Paris Hilton and Tom Hanks have openly shared their infatuation with the burger joint. When the New York Giants were in town for Super Bowl XLII, former coach Tom Coughlin ordered In-N-Out for lunch for the entire team. Now that’s one cool coach!
They Have a (Not So) Secret Menu
I have enjoyed In-N-Out for most of my life so I’m kind of embarrassed to admit this. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I finally discovered that the chain has a secret menu. What!
Who has ever heard of a fast food chain having a secret menu? As the popularity of the “secret menu” grew, In-N-Out finally confessed and put the secret menu on their website, seen here:
The most popular of the secret menu is ordering your burger “Animal Style” where the burger is cooked in mustard, extra “secret sauce” is added, with pickles and grilled onions.
Although they confessed their secret menu on their site, they still didn’t tell the whole truth. Fact is the secret menu has many more secrets.
For example, the menu (above) shows you can order a 4 x 4 (4 meat patties and 4 slices of cheese), but you can also order a 2 x 4 (2 meat patties and 4 slices of cheese).
In fact, you can order almost any combination that your little heart desires. Up until 2004, there was no limit. In fact, one die-hard fan, Will Young, ordered a 100 x 100 (Yes, that’s exactly what you think it is), on Halloween night at the Las Vegas location.
Check out the pic that shows this heart-clogging monstrosity. Will and his 7 friends consumed the entire burger in one sitting. Now that’s dedication!
After that incident, the chain thought it would be wise to put a cap on the limit.
Other secret menu items not listed:
- Double Meat = like a Double Double without cheese.
- 3 by Meat = three meat patties and no cheese.
- Animal Style Fries = fries with cheese, spread, grilled onions, and pickles (if you ask for them).
- Flying Dutchman = two meat patties, two slices of melted cheese and nothing else
- Veggie Burger = burger without the patty or cheese.
- Neapolitan Shake = strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate mixed together.
They Are Great to Their Employees
I can remember back to my high school days when the minimum wage was around $5 per hour and In-N-Out Employees started off making $8.50…and this is for a fast food joint!
Jobs now start off paying an amazing $10 per hour and with it comes paid vacations and a very generous 401k plan. No wonder the employees are so happy to greet when you enter the restaurant.
According to their website, store managers earn just under $100,000 per year. Wow!
How popular are the jobs? In the past year, the chain has opened up several new locations and each time there have been hundreds of people camped out in lines for their chance to work there.
More notably was a blazing hot day in Mesa, Arizona where an estimated 600-800 people lined up beginning at 6:30 a.m. hoping they were one of the lucky 60 that would land the job.
They say landing a corporate executive job is hard to get, but this is ruthless.
Even My Wife Loves It
Having been born and raises in the Midwest, my wife had never had the luxury of the In-N-Out experience. She’s not the biggest burger fan, but I assured her that In-N-Out is not “just” a burger.
On a trip to visit my mom in Vegas, she got to experience what I had hyped up for so long. The result…success! She absolutely loved it and even ate it again when we went back the next day (yes, I’m obsessed).
Don’t Just Take My Word For It
I know I’m not the only one that is partial to the great taste of an In-N-Out Burger. I sent a message on Facebook and a “Tweet” on Twitter soliciting reasons why people love In-N-Out burger. Here’s what they had to say:
@MyTwoDollars: After moving away from Southern California, In N Out is one of the things I miss the most. Their burgers are fantastic, and their fries, which are cut from potatoes as they are needed, are the best fast-food fries ever. Ahh, In N Out, how I miss you. They are putting one in NM, but I will be living in CO by then!
@Bargainr: The food is fantastic and what makes them really exceptional is that they offer great pay and education reimbursement options too. That’s rare in a fast food joint.
@CashMoneyLife: In & Out Burgers are the best fast food burgers you can get, and their fries and shakes are top notch. Unfortunately, they aren’t available where I live, so I’ll have to get one when I go out to Vegas in January. Is there a more perfect combination than Vegas and In & Out Burger?
@PTMoney: My wife, a native Californian, introduced me to the greatness of In N Out Burger when we met. I’ve been hooked since. We live in Texas, but every time we’re in Las Vegas or So. Cal. we have to hunt one down. Love it! I heard a rumor one may be coming to the Dallas area. I’m excited and scared for my health all at once.
@StevenJacobRoss: (My best friend from California was kind of enough to share this message.) Not only do i love it, but i am getting it for dinner in about 2 hours. But what i love most about it is that i have one a block a way from where i live and i can always rub that in your face (Aren’t friends great?)
L. Cremer: The fresh cut fries rock, the toasted bun is perfect, and the crunch of fresh onion can’t be beat! I also really like that they haven’t expanded too quickly. Expansion so often ruins the product and they haven’t fallen in that trap. And they obviously get the principle of supply and demand. I eat there once a month when I’m in AZ. There are 2 in Tucson and 1 in Tempe and they have lines around the block every time I go! I’m hoping they’ll move east to Texas soon! Or maybe I don’t hope for that – could be dangerous to have one nearby …
@CurtisASmithCFP: Love In-in-Out. Can specialize your burger and the sauce is heavenly!
As you can see, my friends love In-N-Out Burger, too! Knowing that there had to be more In-N-Out fans, I did a quick search on Twitter to see what other people had to say.
Don’t Let In-N-Out Burger Pass You By
If you happen to be visiting the west coast for the first time, be sure to swing by an In-N-Out Burger. I promise you won’t be disappointed. Be sure to report back and share how much you loved it!
In early December, my family and I went to visit my mom in Las Vegas. Of course, you know where my first stop was…right? You guessed it.
The first picture below is the In-N-Out Burger Las Vegas sign (the main one). There is actually one closer to my mom’s house, but that would have been an extra 15-minute drive and my stomach couldn’t wait anymore.
All in all, in the course of over 7 days, I ate In-N-out 5 times! Would have had it 6 times, but the last day we had to catch an early flight and unfortunately, they are not open by 6:30 a.m.
In-N-Out Burger Animal Style
As many times that I have visited my favorite burger joint, it’s hard to believe that I had never tried the Animal Style off the secret menu. I decided to give it a go with the fries.
I’m sad to report back that I was unimpressed. I like the sauce and the grilled onions (even though I’m not an onion fan). But the cheese just didn’t mesh well with me.
It’s the ONLY time I didn’t enjoy something there. Don’t worry – I made up for it by devouring 3 cheeseburgers.
The last night my wife and I ate a full Mexican dinner at The Venetian, but that didn’t detour me from eating In-N-Out Burger one more time.
On the way back to my mom’s house we stopped through the drive-thru for one last burger and a chocolate shake.
I’m not sure when we’ll be able to get back to the west coast for some In-N-Out. I can only suppress the inner craving. In-N-Out, I miss you dearly. Until next time…
In-n-Out greatly increases your chance of getting cancer, Alzheimers, heart attack, obesity, stroke, and diabetes.
i Just recently had my 1st visit to In & Out Burger in San Rafael CA. 100% and I mean 100% outstanding experience from the staff, the clean business inside and out and of course, the fantastic food!! Nice job guys. Please bring In & Out to Chicago as soon as possible..
I had heard about In-N-Out Burgers for years. After every Oscar or other LA-award show you’d hear about celebs who would skip a fancy party to go to get one of their burgers. So when I was in LA last year, I forced the group I was with to go to In-N-Out by telling everyone all the accolades I heard over the years. When we saw the lines outside, we felt certain we were in for a treat. We were soooo wrong! I won’t say it was the worse burger I’ve had in my life (although I can’t actually remember one that was worse) but not one of the 7 of us who ate there remotely enjoyed our burger or fries. But, hey, continue to enjoy eating there. I’m still convinced it’s like most LA stories; all hype, no substance.
I could not agree with you more! That is where I met my wonderful husband! We worked together at the Carson City store a time or two ago 🙂 I obviously quit to be with my love but my husband to this day is still working for the company and has been for 11 years now! I would say that In-N-Out has taken pretty good care of us. Glad to see such an enthusiastic fan! Next time you are at an In-N-Out try out some of the items on the secret menu. You will not be disappointed!
put one in washigton state ..everett area
You have GOT to be kidding me! We just got one here in Fort Worth, Tx and I have seen the lines. I waited until they abated and finally went last night. It was the worst hamburger I have ever had in my life! I could eat only a couple of bites. Nasty ‘special sauce’ like the Big Mac. Meat was freshly cooked, but bland.
There are hundreds of private shops that make burgers a million times the taste.
I won’t be returning.
One less person in line? Thanks Jan. 😉
First, to mention In-N-Out and a Big Mac in the same sentence is just wrong on so many fronts.
“Worst hamburger in your life?” Sorry, not buying it. And the special sauce nasty? That sauce is amazing! I’m surprised that the person that created it hasn’t one a Nobel Peace Prize or something.
And to second Eric, yes one less person to hold me up from sinking my teeth in the best.burger.ever. Yummy 🙂
Jeff, this post is hilarious!
Californians/California get a lot of flack on PF blogs about horrible government, taxation, and other things (deservedly so in most cases…)
But every time I just close my eyes and thank the stars I live 5 minutes away from an In-N-Out. Now excuse me while I make a late night run….again! 🙂
Glad you liked it. It’s seriously the most favorite post I’ve ever written 🙂
I could feel the enthusiasm, trust me!
Just read your battle post with Five Guys. Here in CA in my city, a Five Guys just opened a few months ago across from the In-N-Out down my block. At first, there was so much hype and people were saying Five Guys was going to take all of In-N-Out’s customers. I went and gave it a try the first week. Two thoughts: too expensive and nothing special.
I drove across my In-N-Out today on the way home from work and there was a ton of cars at In-N-Out. Not so much at Five Guys. Enough said. 🙂
I just ate my very first In-N-Out Burger literally less than two weeks ago! I was raised in Ohio, went to college in Colorado, now live in Atlanta. Needless to say, I’ve never lived by an In-N-Out Burger, and yet my friends would talk about it all the time (living in Colorado, you meet a lot of people who have lived in Nevada/Arizona/Utah). So when I went to California a few weeks ago, I declared that I HAD to try it.
I loved the burger, though I wasn’t such a fan of the fries. They were a little … off, somehow. Not fry-ish.
I’ll try animal style next time. I had no idea about the secret menu.
Also – have you ever tried 5 Guys Burger? In-N-Out Burger reminded me a lot of 5 Guys Burger. They’re located in New York, Atlanta and probably a few other places. (NYC and Atlanta are the only two places I know for certain. Oh wait — scratch that, three places. I went there once in Montgomery, Alabama). They have the same concept: “real” food, a simple menu. And they’re delicious.
Colorado has a place called Good Times, which is the closest approximation to In-N-Out or 5 Guys that it can muster, but it doesn’t compare.
It’s funny you ask that, because you need to check out my follow up post that puts the two heavyweights together: Five Guys Vs. In-N-Out: Who Has the Best Burger?
Let me know what you think about my decision. 🙂
These pictures make me hungry and I am going to roll out and go get a double double. I will send you a picture in all its glory 🙂
Ok Clone Recipe for IN & Out Double burger for non west coast folks (I live in IL as well & just had my first double this week, wow!!
Here is the link for the clone recipe
@bill I DEFINITELY have to give this a try. Looks very tasty!
another McD and KFC Competitor…….What it is advantage than McD and KFC???
Couldn’t agree more. In Lake Havasu City, AZ for the winter and the highlight is that they have an In-n-Out store. Went to Laughlin, NV the other day, the casino’s are hurting and have closed many internal restaurants. The In-n-Out restaurant on a casino out lot was packed. Talked to an In-n-Out sanitary manager (yes-that was his title) and he was excited about his job of making the restaurants as clean as possible. (He checked the bottom of the kids booster chairs to make sure they were spotless-and he had a formula to clean the grout near the front door) Many companies could learn from this organization-find your niche, keep it simple and execute your plan every time every day.