It’s In, It’s Out, It’s Over

in and out

If you’ve ever known anyone from California, you have undoubtedly heard them go on (and on and on) about the glory of In-N-Out Burger, a fast food joint that, to hear them tell it, must have been founded by Jesus or something.

While I’m not here to hate on In-N-Out, I have to say that in my limited excursions to the golden state I’ve been a little underwhelmed. Yes, the lettuce and tomato are surprisingly fresh, and the beef patty is a huge improvement over McDonald’s — although if you ask me, that’s not a particularly high bar to clear. I’d pick this burger over McD’s any day, but I still say it’s no Shake Shack, and on a California road trip I’d choose fish tacos instead every time. I’m thinking In-N-Out is one of those things you don’t fully understand the love for if you didn’t grow up with it — like scrapple, or the Goonies.

The veggie gf, a SoCal native, is a fervent In-N-Out pusher even though, as you might have guessed, she doesn’t do meat. Instead she orders the off-the-menu item seen above, an animal style “grilled cheese,” which is actually a cheeseburger with the burger part removed — lettuce, tomato, grilled onions, pickles, cheese and secret sauce layered on a hamburger bun. Not bad for fast food, but I’m still not a disciple. I also dispute the classification of calling any sandwich that’s less than 50 percent cheese a “grilled cheese”

So am I wrong or what? Are there non-Californians out there who understand the unadulterated love for In-N-Out, or will I just never get it?

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  • Lauren June 23, 2010  

    Thank you! I am a Californian and have never understood the adoration of the In-N-Out burger. Whenever I travel and people find out I’m from L.A. I usually get people asking me about In-N-Out. I met some Canadians in Thailand who told me they were going to have a layover in L.A. and the one thing they wanted to know was where to get an In-N-Out burger. I couldn’t help but think they would be disappointed.

  • Jeanne @JollyTomato June 23, 2010  

    I’m a non-native Californian (moved here 13 years ago) who loves In-N-Out, but then again I love the idea of a fish taco road trip too. (Oh, and I grew up eating scrapple.) I wouldn’t choose In-N-Out for my last meal, but if someone offered me a chance to go there for lunch, I wouldn’t turn it down either. I think it just is what it is – a quintessential SoCal experience. And the fries are good too!

  • I live in NY, so I’ve been drooling over these In and Out burgers since I started using the Internet, lol. When I get to the west coast, I’ll go in and hope to come out. hehe


  • AnotherLauren June 24, 2010  

    Interesting post! Kathy at A Passion For Food blog recently posted about In-n-out vs. Shake Shack on her blog. She’s from Hawaii but now resides in NY and actually prefers In-n-out. I’m also from Hawaii and have yet to try Shake Shack, but it’s been hyped by all of my friends, and I was surprised by Kathy’s adoration of the I-n-O burger.

  • westcoast June 24, 2010  

    tell veggiegf that she should try the veggie not cheeseburger at five guys too (they have jalapenos standard and sauteed onions and mushrooms!). the fries alone are enough for me to wander in to five guys from time to time.

  • Alex June 24, 2010  

    @westcoast: veggie gf here. Does the not cheeseburger have a fake burger patty? Because that’s what I love about the In’n’Out grilled cheese – it’s so great without needing the filler of fake meat. Seriously, so good.

  • westcoast June 25, 2010  

    @alex no…just bun and cheese and toppings. i need to try to in’n’out…i haven’t ever been to one before and now that I am really on the west coast, and know there’s something there i would eat, it’s worth it!

  • Laura June 29, 2010  

    As a native Californian who grew up in New York, and then moved to Virginia, I’ve seen my fair share of storied burgers.

    I do love me an animal style double double, however I too was a bit let down when the hype met the bite the first time. Good solid burger, but would I seek it out actively? Meh. Perhaps.

    Question is… who would win a burger challenge between Five Guys and In-N-Out? That is a challenge I would LOVE to take!

  • Athryn July 3, 2010  

    I used to adore In-N-Out, until I moved from California to the DC area, and then was introduced to 5 Guys. I haven’t missed In-N-Out since!

  • mary ann February 17, 2011  

    umm You should do more research before you post anything. “Animal style” is a burger cooked with mustard on it…not a cheese burger minus the burger. So please don’t try to talk about things you really don’t understand. Abd for the record I hate In and Out.

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