That’s right. I went there. I decided to write an entire blog post dedicated entirely to the awesome goodness that is an In-N-Out Burger. My fellow Californians will agree with me: there is really nothing quite like that sweet, burgerey goodness that satisfies a deep, primal craving.
Since this is a travel blog, I have to assume many of you readers might not be from California or one of the states in the U.S. West where In-N-Out has more recently expanded (you lucky ducks…I’m looking at you, Arizona). As many of you might be from out of town, I thought it appropriate to describe for you the pure joy that is a trip to In-N-Out in the hopes that you will book yourself a trip here and give it a try for yourself.
Let’s get one thing straight right now: In-N-Out is not high cuisine. This is a fast food burger, available in drive though and walk-up windows. However, there is a reason they have withstood the test of time and become the beloved California icon they are today: In-N-Out is good. Really good. Almost so good it shouldn’t be allowed, as though they have put some sort of a highly addictive drug into their food and distributed it widely so that we all become dependent on it. I’m not kidding: if I ever leave California, the two things I’m going to miss the most are Mexican food and In-N-Out. I can probably get by without the rest.
The thing that makes In-N-Out stand out above the rest is simple: they use real, fresh ingredients. Their patties are never frozen. Their fries are fresh cut from a potato right there in the restaurant. Their produce is fresh. And then there’s that sauce. That delightful secret sauce. I think it’s just thousand island, but it’s somehow also more.
Perhaps the secret to their success is that although they have become enormously popular, they are still family owned. There is no In-N-Out franchise. They are concerned with keeping quality high rather than squeezing out every last penny. Because they have a commitment to staying fresh, they are only available in certain states and only in the U.S. West. They have kept their menu simple after all this time and haven’t added a million ingredients. This allows them to continue to focus on making the best burgers they can make and not get distracted with all sorts of other menu items. However, there are secret menu items.
The In-N-Out menu consists of burgers, fries, shakes, and drinks. You can order a hamburger, a cheeseburger, or a double-double (two patties with cheese). Shakes come in strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla. Really simple, and delicious. However, there are more options to suit your tastes.
The secret menu is a thing of beauty. It’s not really such a secret, though, since In-N-Out even lists it on their website.
Watching gluten, calories, or carbs? Order your burger protein style and it will come wrapped in lettuce rather than on a bun. I usually order this because my doctor told me I’m not supposed to eat gluten and it’s seriously delicious even without the bun. A large portion of In-N-Out’s menu is gluten free, by the way.
Don’t eat meat? Get a grilled cheese. Two slices of melted American cheese, hand-leafed lettuce, tomato, spread with or without onions on a freshly baked bun.
Want extra meat but no cheese? Order it double meat. Two 100% pure beef patties hand-leafed lettuce, tomato, spread, with or without onions, stacked high on a freshly baked bun.
Feeling hungry, or adventurous? Get a 4×4. Four 100% pure beef patties, hand-leafed lettuce, tomato, spread, four slices of American cheese, with or without onions, stacked high on a freshly baked bun. You can also get a 3×3, which is the same thing, except only with three patties and three slices of cheese.
Want to eat the best thing you’ve ever tasted in your life? Animal Style. Get the burger of your choice with hand-leafed lettuce, tomato, a mustard cooked beef patty; add pickle, extra spread with grilled onions. One thing you should know is that you can also order your fries animal style, and it’s the most delicious thing in the world. You get the fries, but they come with secret sauce, grilled onions, and melted cheese on top and it’s seriously heaven in your mouth. Don’t eat this if you’re trying to watch calories though, because it’s a doozy.
You can also order your burger with grilled onions without getting the full animal style experience, if you prefer.
Add Chili Peppers: This is something I always add to my burger. If you ask them, they will add some chili peppers to your order so that you can get a little spice with your order. Yum!
You can mix and match any of these things at the order counter. For instance, one could order a double double, protein style, with grilled onions and chili peppers. They could then order some animal style fries and a 4×4 animal style, but without the pickles. A grilled cheese animal style is also a good option for vegetarians (but not vegans). They will make your order to your liking. You can also ask them for extra secret sauce if you like to put a little more on your burger or like to dip your fries in it.
Oh, did I mention their menu is really inexpensive? That’s right. Cheap thrills!
I hope I’ve inspired all you Californians to go get an In-N-Out burger NOW, and I hope I’ve inspired all you out-of-towners to come visit us and try it out. Maybe several times before you go home.