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Vegas fast food - Jack in the Box and In-n

Sunday, February 3, 2008. BF and I stuffed ourselves at brunch and spent the Super Bowl in a food coma. By the time 9pm rolled around, we were ready to get a snack of some sort. BF is a devotee of Jack in the Box fried tacos, which I (being a northerner) have never tried, so we hopped in the car to do a little Vegas exploration and find some food. We went to the Walmart on Charleston to pick up a couple of things we forgot (and BTW, that is the biggest Walmart I've ever seen. Wow), then drove around a bit just to get the lay of the land.

We spotted a JITB and pulled in. I've never seen their menu before, so I inspected the non-taco offerings, many of which looked good in a super greasy, heart attack inducing way. However, we were there for tacos and tacos we were going to have. We ordered four, for a grand total of $2.13. When we got the bag, BF was practically weeping with excitement and plunged right in. I took my time inspecting my odd, shriveled looking taco before proceeding. The "meat" looked like refried beans with a tiny bit of meat mixed in, but upon tasting it I didn't detect the flavor of beans. There was a slice of half-melted cheese and some iceberg lettuce with some red sauce. The outside part of the shell was crispy and dry, the part touching the meat was soggy. Interesting. I took a bite. Hm. I took another. Hmmmmmmmm. I finished the taco, and suddenly realized that it must have been filled with crack, because I wanted 20 more of them. I wasn't even stoned! WTF?

These tacos SHOULD be absolutely disgusting. There is nothing redeeming about any of the ingredients used to make them, nor the process used to cook them. However, they are addictive beyond belief. That chewy texture of the meat-paste filled portion of the taco is just incredible. I am still thinking about it this morning. I foresee a few more trips to JITB before we leave Las Vegas. And I am VERY glad that we don't have JITB in our part of the world, because I would weigh 500 lbs in a week.

After we had the tacos, we drove around some more, trying to decide if we wanted something else to eat. I wanted more tacos, but I suggested that we find an In-n-Out burger, since neither of us have ever had it and we wanted to see what all the fuss was about. We pulled in to the one on Sahara and went in - the place is charming in an old-fashioned kind of way but it was FILTHY. We ordered double doubles (with spread for me, without for him) and an order of fries, and made our way to the one clean table in the joint. We bit into our burgers with anticipation....and...they were fine. We both liked mine (with spread) better than BF's plain version, and we were impressed with the overall greasiness and the way the grilled onions complimented the meat and cheese, but we weren't wowed. These are definitely better than McDonalds (or most other fast food burgers we've had), but I'm not sure I understand the cultish devotion. The fries were a little strange - I understand they cut them fresh each day, but ours tasted a little starchy, as if they'd been sitting around for a while. Since it was about 10pm by this time, they probably had been sitting all day. Anyway, it was a worthwhile trip, but if there are better burgers in Vegas, please let me know!

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  1. Better fast food burgers? I like Fatburger much better than In n Out. I think there's a Fatburger somewhere on the Strip.

    Better non-fast food burgers that will cost more like $15? Burger Bar, in the Mandalay Place shops between Mandalay Bay and Luxor. Superb, incredible. Also, they do a mean burger at Mesa Grill in Caesars, but really, you should go to Burger Bar. We probably eat there 5 out of every 6 trips to Vegas.

    Your musings on the JITB tacos "cracked" me up. I practically grew up on them, being from L.A., but probably have only eaten two in the last decade. But now I want one or two or three. When you go back to JITB you should also get an Oreo shake, they are really good and worth the calories, but get the smallest size you can.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Debbie W

      In N Out is by far the best fast food chain burger in the southwest. Phoenix has Lenny's which is better, but it is regional.

      Fat Burger, at $8 to $10 for a drink/fry combo hardly fits into the fast food realm. That, and it doesn't have the qualifying drive-thru because they don't make them fast. Fat Burger is a good burger though. The one on the strip is on the east side of the strip just north of MGM if I remember correct.

      The trick to In N Out is ordering your burger and fried animal style. And you have to get the neopolitan shake. The fries are almost always cut right before they make them, but at 10PM who knows.

      JITB tacos are laced with something... YUMMY GOODNESS!!! I lived on those in college and still reminisce when i am drunk at 2AM.

      1. re: ValleyFever

        Oooh, animal style. I just looked it up and I would be totally into that - I love mustard. BF hates it though, so it's probably good that I looked it up before plunging ahead.

        In-n-Out was definitely better than most fast food chains we have available in the northeast, although I generally like Dairy Queen and A&W (these are not as prevalent as BK, McDs and Wendys, though). I also love Culver's, but I only get that when I head back to the midwest to visit family. Butterburgers, OMG!

        1. re: biondanonima

          An In-n-Out burger, animal style, almost seems like a whole different beast than the standard preparation. To my taste, they are *much* better.

          I just had the JITB tacos for lunch today! They were my favorite as a kid, and then I probably didn't eat them for 20 years, until I saw them mentioned here on chowhound. They've become an occasional fast food treat to me now -- one of the few things in life that tasted just as good as I'd remembered them to taste!

    2. I am interested in this as well. Being a New Englander, we lost our Jack N The Box outlets long ago. We do not have In and Out, Fatburger, A&W, or even Sonic in my part of the country, and was looking at some of these places to fill in a few meals around the $$$$ reservations we already have. Especially since I will have time alone and on foot, while my wife is conventioneering.
      How far off the Strip is In and Out on Sahara? Is it walkable?
      Any good Hot Dog places on the Strip?
      Any g

      15 Replies
      1. re: Lighthousehunter

        There are In-N-Outs all over town. The closest location to the strip is on Dean Martin and Tropicana just on the west side of I-15. Walkable? Depends on where you're staying and what time of year. The Sahara location is about one mile west of the strip. Long walk unless you're staying at the Sahara Hotel. If you don't feel like renting a car while you're in town, get an all day unlimited bus pass. Save your feet!

        There are no "good" hot dog places on the strip. You can get a 99 cent jumbo hot dog at Slots 'O Fun next to Circus Circus, but I'm fairly sure it's not worth the walk, even from Circus Circus. Until recently, the best hot dog in town was at Costco and that's not saying much. A new chain just opened up that serves really tasty dogs. Famous Uncle Al's Hot Dogs, but neither of their locations are remotely close to the strip.

        Andy

        -----
        Famous Uncle Al's Hot Dogs
        6010 W Craig Rd Ste 110, Las Vegas, NV 89130

        Famous Uncle Al's Hot Dogs
        7835 S Rainbow Blvd, Las Vegas, NV

        In-N-Out Burger
        2900 W Sahara Ave, Las Vegas, NV

        In-N-Out Burger
        4888 Dean Martin Dr, Las Vegas, NV

        1. re: Lighthousehunter

          when are you in vegas ? are you staying at/near sahara ? as shamu mentions, the in-n-out at trop and dean martin is the closest to the strip but this time of year ( cold...not new england cold ! ) do not suggest you walk ...and no matter time of year, do not make the trek at night time... the trop location...not the best area...

          the slots-o-fun hot dog....i recommend that all tourists ( and yes...the locals too ) try it once just for kicks ...it's quite the dog !!! i'm a big guy and i've nevver finished one...especially if you put the chili/cheese/onions but it's nostalgic for me...i thought i was gonna go their this weekend with a college bud of mine - we ate there over 20 years ago !! my guess - sammy's is porbably the closest dog place to the strip ( flamingo and decatur ) - i suggest you try it - i believe i've posted at least one if not 2 reviews on the place -it's less than a mile from the palms.

          i laughed at the culver's reference - i have fond memories of culvers when i lived in wisconsin ...

          i also agree that the comparison between fatburger and in-n-out ....apples and oranges .... your seeing more and more haburger specials at the casino coffee shops that are comparable in price to many fast food places - station casino's is an example of this....

          happy fast fooding !!!

          1. re: kjs

            We'll be in Las Vegas next month and plan on going to the In-n-Out at Dean Martin and Tropicana. Is there a sidewalk or walkway on Tropicana from the strip going west? From all the satellite maps I've seen, it doesn't look like you can walk there but you (and shamu613) obviously say you can.

            At worst, we can take the CAT bus the 3/4 of a mile but would rather walk.

            We WILL hit slots-o-fun!

            Thanks,

            Eric

            1. re: kjs

              Hi, I'll be in Vegas @ Treasure Island @ the end of April & want to hit In-N-Out burger badly, as I've heard so much about them. I was in Vegas last November, again @ TI & saw the sign for the In-N-Out Burger on Dean Martin from the corner of Tropicana & The Strip. Can I walk to that location from that corner? It doesn't look too far, but it does look like a series of on ramps/ hwys. Can a pedestrian get there from the corner of Tropicana & The Strip (NYNY, EXCALIBUR, MGM Grand & Tropicana are on that corner)?

              1. re: sensfantoronto

                We were there two weeks ago and tried to walk but gave up. Once you get past NYNY on Tropicana, there is no sidewalk and you are in the road. We ended up taking cabs to and from In-N-Out and I saw 20 or 30 yards up Tropicana there was a sidewalk for a while, but when you get to the I-15 ramp, you'll have to cross the street where pedestrians are clearly not meant to be.

                If you are going to walk, I'd suggest doing it only during the day.

                Another option, espicially if your going to Freemont St is a one (or more) day transportation pass. It's $5 for 24 hours and you can ride all the busses and The Duece. The 201 bus is for Tropicana and it runs every 15 minutes. The total for the cab rides was over $20, but our return trip was up to Planet Hollywood. You could probably go to and from the corner of Tropican and The Strip for under $20. I'd recommend the bus over the cab.

                Link for busses:

                http://www.rtcsouthernnevada.com/

            2. re: Lighthousehunter

              I should have mentioned I am staying at the Paris.
              The closest In and Out location is the Dean Martin location.
              Burgers and Hot Dogs may be balancing off the Steak Frites at Mon Ami Gabi, and Morel's at the Palazzo.
              I had heard people say that the West Coast was more burger friendly than the East Coast, and now I know.
              How is Carl's Jr.? And Weinerschnitzel for hot dogs?
              2 more chains that have no foothold in New England.

              1. re: Lighthousehunter

                Is Carl's Jr. the same as Hardee's? Do they have Hardee's where you live? Carl's Jr. has a chicken sandwich I like, with chipotle mayo and ortega chiles, get it grilled, no cheese. Haven't had their burgers for a long time but some folks like the $6 burger (that's the name, not how much it costs). They get credit from me for having funny commercials. I don't think I've ever had Der Weinerschnitzel. You can easily walk to the Fatburger on the Strip from the Paris.

                1. re: Debbie W

                  Yep, Carl Jr.'s is pretty much the same animal as Hardee's.

                  1. re: Suzy Q

                    Actually, they were 2 very different companies to start off. CKE acquired Hardee's just 10 years ago and they maintain different recipes and menu items as well. OH and as for hot dogs on the strip, I think Bally's has Nathan's hot dogs.

                2. re: Lighthousehunter

                  Uggghh, Weinerschnitzel is just...just...a once-in-awhile thing for me. They are nothing special, and very greasy. If I eat there twice a year, it's ALOT. It seems -noplace- that makes corn-dogs even use BEEF franks, and I just really dislike chicken or turkey dogs. Their chili used is decent.

                  If you want an interesting fast-food option you may not get back east, try Hawaiian food. There's tons of places in Vegas, my personal pick is L&L. There are other fast-food Hawaiian places in this town, and even in downtown, at The California Hotel- they have fantastic late-night Hawaiian food in the coffee-shop.

                  1. re: Honeychan

                    Agree with the L&L recommendation. It is a real change from the typical fast food place. They are up to six locations in Las Vegas.

                    1. re: Honeychan

                      Ohh!! As an addendum to this post, wanted to throw out the note you -may- want to try a Tommy's burger. It's from SoCal, and everyone down there knows what a Tommyburger is. If you like/love chili burgers, they are worth a side-trip. You want a cultish, even slightly odd group of fast-food lovers? Tommy's addicts SWEAR by these burgers. I'm 60/40 on them, in favor. They are really greasy, BUT..The chili is -good-. No beans, very smooth and flavorful. Hundreds of thousands of stoners, artists and insomniacs can't be wrong! (LA's many locations are 24/7..The open Vegas one only has drive-thru open 24/7) They are unique (to me, at least) and they do grow on you.

                      1. re: Honeychan

                        Also the go to place after partying all night long....that was in the good ol' days. Plus you have to order it once with everything in it.

                        1. re: justagthing

                          *LOL* Oh, tell me about it! You can meet the coolest, most random people at a Tommy's at 3am! Everyone's there for the same thing: a greasy chili burger, with everything. (or just extra pickles for me) Chili boat, and Pepsi and wow...Just WOW. Do YOU know where you were, 20, 30 years ago? For me, I was prolly at Tommy's in Burbank, being quite nefarious in my youth. This all makes me smile, and think happy thoughts, and for that reason, Tommy's holds a warm special place in my heart.

                          OH! If you want to try Tommy's, they are on St. Rose Parkway, next door to St. Rose hospital. A good 25 minute drive from The Strip, but worth it. A second location is set for Boulder Hwy, across from Sam's Town.

                  2. re: Lighthousehunter

                    Time to move out of New England if they are taking all of those wonderful burger joints away from you. How dare they do that in the East. Com to duh West. We has dee burger places fors you! : )

                  3. No better fast food burgers than In-N-Out in Vegas. Fatburger? I personally don't think they are all that- a very bland, nothing burger. They have their very loyal customers, just like In-N-Out does.

                    A little tip on In-N-Out fries, tho: Order them WELL DONE. They will cook the order fresh for you, and the texture is a million times better, a bit more cooked. My husband hated their fries, untill we learned of this trick. He's a rabid convert when they are done like this!

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Honeychan

                      There's a secret to Fatburger: Get it with the egg.

                      1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                        ...and an In N Out secret....Order a 4x4 and see what ya get?!

                        1. re: Big N Fat

                          Mine's usually a 3x3 Animal Style, actually. Or a Double-Double with fries Animal Style.

                    2. Your experience with the In-&-Out fries may not be unusual. Despite the fact that many, many people seem to love their fries, I've never been able to get into them. They are fresh cut, they are cooked in oil dedicated to fries, they don't have additives, etc. etc. etc. They _should_ be good. But for some reason they are just bland &--as you said--starchy.

                      Honeychan & other posters have the right idea about In-&-Out fries: you have to know how you like them & special order them the way you want. When I order fries at In-&-Out (which is not often) I order mine "light" which is slightly undercooked; that gives them a softer texture.

                      My question is: are the fries at any joint really all that great if you have to special order them a certain way in order to get them the way you like?

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: alanstotle

                        I guess your last question would be for the general topics board, but if I'm eating fries I always order them well done no matter where I am. But I don't really care very much about fries, period. Ordering well done doesn't help the In N Out fries though, and I think the burgers tend to slimy and I don't like mustard on my burgers so forget about animal style. I do like the way they do the dressing and lettuce on the burgers, though. What can I say, that's why we are lucky to have choices. At Fatburger, I can get my cheeseburger with mayo, relish, pickles and lettuce, and I like the way it gets crispy from the griddle. Whatever, I live less than a mile from both In N Out and Fatburger and Fatburger gets my business. I'd rather have Fatburger's onion rings than fries from anywhere. I don't think I've ever tasted Fatburger's fries. Their onion rings are excellent, putting most non-fast-food rings to shame. In Vegas, we prefer Burger Bar although I think they may be using a different batter on their onion rings than they used to...just as well, I don't need the calories. Again, apples to oranges.

                        1. re: Debbie W

                          Actually in the animal style burger they put a little mustard on the meat patty before cooking it, it is not like they slather on mustard on top of the burger, it just gives it a little tang and most people would never suspect that mustard had anything to do with the burger.

                          1. re: Debbie W

                            Dear daughter and I tried the In-n-Out at Trop and Dean Martin last time we were in Vegas, and thought it was a very tasty burger. Surroundings were spotlessly clean. As a Canadian, I'm still partial to Harvey's, but if there was an In-n-Out in Toronto, I'd be there.

                            1. re: KevinB

                              Did you walk to In-n-Out, or drive/take transportation? We'll be going soon and I'm unsure if there's a walkway or if you must walk on Tropicana itself. A cab or the CAT bus might be the way to go.

                              Thank you,

                              Eric

                              1. re: ericruby

                                Both.

                                There are sidewalks to the In-n-Out or you can take the Tropicana Ave bus.

                                1. re: jlawrence01

                                  Or neither. Cabs are the way to go in Vegas. They are plentiful and cost effective.

                                  1. re: ValleyFever

                                    Thanks ValleyFever. We'll almost surely take a cab from the airport to the hotel, but it seems the minimum cab ride is $5 to $6, even from the Strip to the Dean Martin In-n-Out (3/4 of a mile). so if we go during the day, we'll likely walk the mile and a half round trip.

                                    If it's at night, we'll cab as many have said it's not great to walk there at night.

                                    Thanks again.

                            2. re: Debbie W

                              In just about every instance, I am totally opposed to the idea of mustard on my hamburgers, but with animal style in-n-out burgers, you can't really taste it -- they put a little on before they cook the burger, none on the sandwich itself.