When you approach an In-N-Out Burger you’ll ask yourself, “Why are all these people waiting?” No joke. The drive-thru line can wrap around the building, and it’s often longer inside. I’ve waited as long as thirty minutes to place my order. As you sink your teeth into the burger, you will attempt to discover what it is about their special sauce. As you leave, you’ll wonder just how long it’ll take before your onion breath disappears.
What is the allure of the In-N-Out Burger? Yes, it is consistently voted among the best burgers in the country and the truth is my wife will forgive most of my Las Vegas bad behavior if I show up at the house with a burger their fresh cut fries. Why do we like it? Hard to figure. Maybe it’s their secret menu that boasts “Animal Style Fries” or the ability to have a “4 X 4” (4 meat patties and 4 slices of cheese.)
Since I know you’re about to get In-N-Out in Dallas, I decided to honor the occasion by sitting down with a regular In-N-Out burger and a Double Double, Animal style burger, some fries, a chocolate shake and a Coke and try to figure out what all the fuss is about.
Since I split my time equally between Las Vegas and Los Angeles, I have been eating these things my entire life. They’re practically my definition of comfort food. But do I really enjoy the burgers, or am I merely a creature of habit? Whether I am in Las Vegas or Los Angeles, I have an In-N-Out burger at least once a month. Is it an addiction or are they that good?
It’s pretty simple. All they make are burgers, shakes and fries, so they must be above average, right? I put on my critic hat and ordered most of the menu. Today, I was all business, taking the burgers apart, exploring the flavors, examining the milk shake, deliberating over the grilled onions and fresh cut fries.
When you hold a burger in your hand, you note right away that the bun is both super soft and slightly slippery. They toast the buns on the griddle, so naturally a little extra good stuff coats the top, making the bun deliciously spongy and light. The fresh leaf lettuce is crisp and cool and gives you the contrast of fresh and greasy at the same time. Then you get a hit of pure beef flavor and cool tomato. The grilled onions bring heat and sweet to the party. And the animal style– a beef patty griddled in mustard , pickles, grilled onions then topped with crisp lettuce and juicy tomato–that’s where the flavors abound.
But this time, for the first time ever, I notice a flaw: salt. The burgers are way too salty. I was shocked that I had never noticed it before.
The regular burger, sans “Animal Style” is less salty, but not by much. I’m guessing that the sauce hides even more sodium chloride.
How about that bun? Its ridges are crispy, the size is just right, and the smear of condiments are a little onion heavy. Overall, an In-N-Out will leave you craving more, and I think I know why. The burgers are about 30% too small to fully satisfy you, and I make that calculation because I always crave about half a burger more. Guess that’s why you’ve got to buy the fries and a milkshake.
Is the In-N-Out better than any burger ever? No, I have had better.
Is it pretty good considering it’s a fast food burger? Yes.
Will you be addicted? Very likely.
Zeke Quezada is the Guide to Las Vegas Travel for About.com and Las Vegas Editor for EscapeHatchDallas. He has been crawling through the Las Vegas restaurant scene since he was in his teens and learned to throw dice on Fremont Street. If it’s on the Las Vegas strip, Zeke has swam, slept, eaten, drank or lounged there.