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In-N-Out Burgers [moved from L.A. board]

I don't get it. I have some colleagues who travel to LA and love In-N-Out Burgers. I live in Minneapolis, and we don't have them here - just McD's, Burger King, Wendy's, and the occasional Hardees. While I have never been to an In-N-Out, I just can't imagine they're all that different than other fast food burger joints. Despite this, these colleagues of mine go on and on about the place and can't wait to eat there. When I ask them about it, they carry on as if the burgers are great. Are they, or are these guys jokers, or have bad taste, or what?

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  1. Why would anyone joke about food being good?
    of course they're good!

    1. I grew up on the East Coast where there were no In-N-Outs. When I move to LA and everyone was raving, I thought it was BS. Then I tried a Double Double and was hooked. They are real burgers - not frozen patties. Everything is fresh. It's the only fast food joint where I could trust that the tomatoes would be juicy and delicious.

      1 Reply
      1. I suggest you try it before you think it's all the same. Certainly, people have different opinions of In n' Out (I, for one, don't really care for it), but such views are only debatable when we have had the opportunity to form such views after our tastebuds and predilections combine.

        3 Replies
        1. re: chica

          I was trying to see if it's worth trying, actually. But thanks.

          1. re: pgokey

            then you should trust your colleagues and try it.
            check out this board for the many different ways to order your burger...i hope it helps. :)

            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/357346

            1. re: pgokey

              They are worth trying, but if you are visiting LA from MN, then there are a lot of other foods that are much more worth trying. It wouldn't be at the top of my list.

          2. Their "secret" is all fresh, never frozen, ingredients. Small menu of things they do right. Friendly staff, fast service. Clean stores.

            Still, some think of it a just another fast food burger. Go figure?

            5 Replies
            1. re: Wes

              Speaking of staff, I know of no other burger company that trains its cooks in its own In n' Out's version of training camp.

              1. re: chica

                McD and BK both have major training facilities separate from their restaurants. In N Out may do the same kind of thing, yet the results really show that the ingredients may be different, yet the end product is really not any difference from most of its competitors.

                1. re: carter

                  McD's "hamburger university" is reserved for its management level staff. The "cooks" get their training on the line (not that any training is really necessary... you're basically cooking the meat patties with a press).

                  I love In N Out. I love Fat Burger even more!

              2. re: Wes

                Could you imagine if they had chili or eggs or bacon? All other places would be out of business. I can only think of Jay's Jay Burgers Chili on an In & Out. OMG!!!

                1. re: Burger Boy

                  I'll go for the best of 3 worlds... a Double Double with extra grilled onions and extra spread (sans lettuce which is my hot sandwich preference 100 percent of the time),
                  a fried egg ala Fatburger and Tommy's chili. BAYBEE!!!

              3. They are good, but they are still fast-food burgers. For me, they belong to a different category of food than a homemade burger or a burger at a nicer pub or restaurant. I am new-ish to California, and while I enjoy the occasional In-N-Out, it's really not THAT exciting.

                In the category of fast food burgers, however, I do think they are the best. They are also serious about using fresh ingredients http://www.in-n-out.com/freshness.asp which is good. So I feel okay about eating an In-N-Out burger, while I do not feel okay about eating a burger at McDonald's.

                9 Replies
                1. re: Dave MP

                  That's exactly what I was gonna say - you just said it better!

                  1. re: Dave MP

                    I think Dave MP has hit the nail on the head. I -heart- In-n-Out, but it's also the type of place that I can see being disappointing if someone's heard "the hype." It's still a fast-food burger ( a very good fast food burger that I'd eat more often if I didn't care about my health, but a fast food burger nonetheless!) It's not flame-broiled, or cooked to order, or has yummy toppings. But it's fresh and hot and double-doubles are addictive. So, pgokey, it's very good, but don't expect the BEST burger ever, just the best fast food burger ever.

                    1. re: writergirl

                      So the feedback is helpful. I don't eat fast food unless I have to but this place is being sold as a must-do place to go to. What I am hearing here is that it is merely above average fast food, but nothing that elevates past fast food. I will only be in LA for 3 days. I have much better places to eat at than In-N-Out, it seems. What I was really trying to get a handle on was the food tastes of these colleagues. I trust the opinions of a panel of chowhounds a little more, I guess. So, thanks.

                      1. re: pgokey

                        I would say if it's before 1 AM (or 1:30 on Friday or Saturday) and you're looking for something reasonably quick late at night, then go with reckless abandon.

                        1. re: pgokey

                          If there are no decent burger places in the Twin Cities - you mentioned only the chains - these towns are ripe for a better alternative. Are there any independents/mom&pops or small local chains?

                          LA has a fair amount of burger places of all shapes and sizes. But like some others have mentioned, In-N-Out is tops for chain-burgers, but there are so many other places you should spend your time trying. I'm guessing that if your buddies were so in awe of In-N-Out, then somewhere like Father's Office would have left them speechless...

                          Do the In-N-Out if it really is under your skin and if you want to compare notes with your friends, but please do yourself a favor and try some of the many outstanding offerings that this town of many immigrants has to offer you... Mexican, Chinese, Thai, Korean, Japanese, Mediterranean, Persian, Ethiopian, South American, Salvadoran... did I miss any? I'm sure I did. ;-)

                          1. re: pgokey

                            There are a lot of the 'Best .......... In L.A.' threads available on CH. There are GREAT burgers, Mexican regional, Chinese regional, Thai, Japanese, and Korean places here. Also some pretty wonderful upscale restaurants featuring menus using seasonal ingredients. And also wonderful ice cream/gelato, pastries etc. If I were spending 3 days in L.A. that's what I would aim for. But someday you should check the so callrd 'secret menu' for In N Out and try what sounds best to you, that's the only way you'll ever know if they are great or crap!

                            1. re: pgokey

                              It rises above some things that wouldn't be considered "fast food." That set of chains like Applebees, Chilis, Ruby Tuesday, etc...I think the burgers at In-n-out are better than all of them. They aren't "cooked to order" insofar as they cook them the way them cook them (unless you specify well done) but they are cooked when you order them. Nothing sits around. If you don't like fast food, period, then I don't think there's fast food your'e going to like. In-N-Out is a whole different creature than the large national chain fast food restaurants, though. The produce is quite good and is what really makes the burger something special in my mind. And they serve Coke, which is a bonus.

                            2. re: writergirl

                              I think it's also a case of the novelty. For some visitors, it's kind of a ritual.

                            3. re: Dave MP

                              Jack in the box is a much better product than either.

                            4. I think part of the appeal of In-N-Out is the myopic, laser-like focus of the menu.

                              It's basically burger and about 100 different variations of the burger (e.g. cheese, double patty, no lettuce, extra sauce, etc.). You go there, order a burger of one ilk or another and never really wonder if you either (a) should have gotten something else or (2) if there is anything else better.

                              By contrast, a place like McDonald's or Burger King offers the diner a plethora of choices, from the basic burger, to fish and chicken sandwiches, to chicken nuggets, to wraps and burritos, and even things like salads and new-fangled burgers like the Angus-styled offerings.

                              Order up a Big Mac, for example, and sometimes a person like me will wonder if I would have been happier with a Filet-O-Fish.

                              This lingering doubt NEVER happens at In-N-Out. The menu forecloses such second-guessing, which makes the food taste and seem just that much better -- regardless of whether it actually is.

                              Part of the genius and appeal of In-N-Out.

                              1 Reply
                              1. I like In-N-Out burgers, but you can get something close to them in Minneapolis. Why not make your L.A. visit something special and sample an ethnic cuisine that may not be available in Minneapolis, such as Ethiopian, Sri Lankan, Oaxacan or Ecuadorian?

                                1. In-N-Out is the only fast food burger that you can order with meat and cheese plain, keep it in the refer overnight and then eat it cold for breakfast and it is still a very tasty meal. Ya, the meat is that good.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Like go grinz

                                    I believe In-N-Out is the only fast food chain that escapes Fast Food Nation (the anti-fast food modern day version of The Jungle) unscathed. Basically, if you have to eat fast food, you better make sure it's In-N-Out or else it's russian roulette.

                                    For me, the In-N-Out story begins with the quality of not only the products but the workers. They're paid higher and have more benefits than other burger flippers, and as a result they're happier, but also managers have an almost unlimited pool of other potential workers on standby, forcing current workers to stay on their game.

                                  2. Not sure why, but In-N-Out is the type of food that seems to get better and better the more times I frequent it. I don't think the burgers that fantastic the first time I had it either.

                                    One of the reasons I love it is because it's really a customized burger. I limit carbs and sodium, and it's possible to order a burger to suit my diet. Plus I can always count on the tomatoes to be non-plasticy, and the onions to be crunchy and mild.

                                    They have one of the best premade milkshakes out there. The only thing I hate on their menu are the fries. Even when well done/extra crispy they are barely passable.

                                    Lastly, the quality varies a tiny bit from one store to another I've found. Generally the ones that has a inside dining seems to have the hotter (temperature wise) burgers , which is what I prefer.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: notmartha

                                      I think you're on the money. I find it hard to deny that In-N-Out tries to give everyone a square deal from their customers to their employees. I think that their food is great, given the price point relative to their competitors (can we even call them competition?).

                                      Their ability to offer good to very good ingredients in their food probably hinges on being in So Cal. The amount of fresh ingredients, especially produce, is so easily sourced here, and they go through the time and trouble to keep the quality of this pipeline going.

                                      My one quarrel with In-N-Out is their fries as well. I've decried those limp oily things since I've been on this blogsite, only to be confronted by In-N-Out's ardent defenders. I can totally dig the reasoning that everyone has their preferences but IMO, there's no defending their fries. Pushing the fry time doesn't fix a french fry that was never prepared properly to begin with. This is proabably the one point where doing everything the fresh way goes against In-N-Out.

                                      I've said this before, but at the risk of looping over and over, I'll say it again. In my mind, a great burger experience includes a great french fry. These are not mutually exclusive as the star front&center at In-N-Out is the burger. It needs to be buttressed by a great drink (soda or shake) on one side and a basket of real french fries on the other.

                                      1. re: bulavinaka

                                        I know. Seems like an incomplete meal without a proper drink and starch (so much for low-carb). That's why I always end up getting the fries, and try to drown out the texture/taste by dipping them into the dressing on the side.

                                    2. I love In-N-Out, and you really should try one of the double-double with grilled onions before you leave. The fries are okay, although I like the healthy, fresh taste. You can get them well-done for a crunchier taste.

                                      It's on a completely different level than McDonald's, Wendy's, Carl's or Burger King. Yes, there are probably better burgers out there where you pay $10 to $20 for them (maybe Morton's, maybe some steak house). But, for the price, $2 to $3 for a burger, it's definitely the best out there.

                                      1. If you go (and, as you see, you should), and you like shakes, DO NOT FAIL to get one of these. Thick, usually so thick your straw stands in it. And very rich.

                                        1. There are several factors that make In 'n Out burgers stand out from the usual fast food:
                                          #1: They are made-to-order, and never just sit there under a heatlamp
                                          #2: Fresh ingredients, from not-frozen meat, to top quality lettuce, tomatoes, and onions, fresh-baked buns, and fries from potatoes sliced right in the store.
                                          #3: Well-paid, motivated, and conscientious employees, who rarely screw up orders.

                                          On the other hand, unless you order the fries well-done, they are pretty anemic.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Steve Green

                                            Your objectivity is sincerely appreciated - and not to mention their shakes are pretty killer as well.

                                          2. They also have veggie burgers. And starting salary is 10 an hour! amazing. They are better than McDonalds. Milk shakes are real. But there is a lot of other good food in CA

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: Giselle

                                              "They also have veggie burgers." That's completely untrue. There is nothing remotely resembling a veggie burger on the famously limited In-N-Out menu. The only way to get a meatless burger there is to ask them to hold the meat. Check it out at www.in-n-out.com.

                                              1. re: Arthur

                                                Spot on accurate. They will do a "grilled cheese" with lettuce, tomato, cheese and whatever sauces you like on a toasted bun. But no "veggie burger." Now, in my mind, the produce is good enough that that's not a bad sandwich by any stretch, so its no insult. But its also no veggie burger.

                                                1. re: Arthur

                                                  I'm afraid you can get a no meat veggie burger @ in n out,they have a Hidden menu,for those in the know,next time you are in one ask for a "4x4 animal style"....4 patty's grilled onions cheese,and mustard as i recall put on the bun then grilled .

                                                  1. re: jword2001

                                                    With all due respect, jword2001, that's still incorrect and misleading. Plain and simple: There is no veggie burger patty available at In-N-Out - unless you consider the toppings to be a patty.

                                                    Here is the official link to In-N-Out's not so "secret menu": http://www.in-n-out.com/secretmenu.asp

                                                    In addition, the following is a link to a die-hard devotee's complete listing of all known In-N-Out menu items: http://www.badmouth.net/in-n-outs-sec... Scroll down and you will see that he discusses the purported veggie burger, which is just In-N-Out's version of a grilled cheese with the apparent addition of whole slices of grilled onions.

                                                    Let's be sensible: It's one thing to be able to freely special-order existing menu items and ingredients. But why on earth would In-N-Out (or any restaurant) stock veggie patties and not in any way alert customers to their availability?

                                                    1. re: Arthur

                                                      I misunderstood,and apologize for the mistake,as "veggie patty's " are not something i even thought about,i was thinking the grilled cheese,as you say ,sorry about that,and thank you for pointing it out.

                                              2. Yep they are that GOOD! damn i'd sell my soul (almost) for a double double, right now!,their frys are top notch too!, in your area you also have Culvers,a top notch fast food burger,give'm a try!

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: jword2001

                                                  Good call! We hit the one in Rockwall, TX a couple of times and I've been to a few others. Butter Burgers are way good, as are the ice cream concoctions.

                                                  1. re: GroovinGourmet

                                                    Wow, it's been almost 4 years since i was in Rockwall,and they didn't have Culvers that i new of then, i had found one north of the DFW area, i remember my stop near Rockwall was always Soulman's BBQ, good ,not the best Q, but a killer value ,and really good sindes, 'specially the bananna pudding,and the spicy beans.

                                                2. I made a point of trying them last time I was in LA - I though they were ok (I went to one on Sunset) but the service was a little chaotic. I much preferred Fattburger though - I'm not sure how widespread they are - I went to the one at Desert Ridge in Phoenix...their fries are more like our UK chips

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Pete S

                                                    sorry - that should read "Fatburger" (one "T")

                                                  2. I know that In-N-Out has dedicated partisans and for this reason I made a point of eating there while I was in LA last year. It is better than McDonalds (not saying much) or Burger King but overall it struck me as just another fast food burger. It was on par with other regional chains where I have eaten (Fast Track, Ward's e.g.). That said, it is a better value for the money as they are pretty cheap, but I guess I would rather pay a few dollars more and get a really good burger and fries at a sit down (not fancy) place.

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: frankiii

                                                      I have never understood a "sit down restaurant burger", fast food burgers in particular are unsophisticated,basic good food it's like Drag racing, you shouldn't do it with a Ferrari , it's a bare knuckled fight for common folks appetites and dollars, i am completely baffled by the $10 burger at the Cheesecake factory,and I'm aware it gets much pricer than that,ultimately it comes down to what makes each person happy,and thats a good thing! ,....but it still seems a bit like boxing in a tutu ....just my humble opinion :)

                                                      1. re: jword2001

                                                        I really dislike eating in my car. I am not saying that i take off for a white table cloth spot everytime I get a burger jones but I can think of two place within a block or so of where I work that have burgers for under $8 (with fries) that I would take any day over a burger from a fast food spot.

                                                        1. re: frankiii

                                                          That's cool it's all about what one enjoys, thank GOD we live in a country where we have these wonderful choices!,as for eating in a car, i drove a truck for 6-7 years and i guess it became second nature,i personally hate eating outdoors,however the most enjoyable dinner i ever had was on the beach in Islamorada...go figure.

                                                      2. re: frankiii

                                                        Its "fast food" certainly and as you note, its a cut above any other fast food joint you might mention. They're the best example of the category in my mind. I don't generally want to invest the time at a "sit down" restaurant for a burger. The only other burger place I frequent in the Bay area is Burgermeister which has the "sit down" type of burger served quickly since they do very little else and they're delicious. But, as I was discussing with the guy at the counter at Burgermeister yesterday, In n Out and Burgermeister do very different things and both have their time and place.

                                                      3. I think that the In-N-Out burgers are far superior to any fast food chain, probably better than most sit down restaurants. Miket1354@msn.com