Critique of the Week: In-N-Out Burger

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You’ve seen the lines as you’ve driven by and wondered what all the excitement was about. Is Bon Jovi doing autographs at that In-N-Out place up the road? Does the meal come with a raffle ticket for the new Lamborghini Reventon? Nope. People are simply lined up for … wait for it … a cheeseburger. Clearly, there must really be something to those burgers!

In your mouth and out your ass in less than two hours. Photo credit: Ai Mitton

In your mouth and out your ass in less than two hours. Photo credit: Ai Mitton

For those of you who are interested in the In-N-Out experience but don’t want to spend the entire week in line, I have gone forth and sampled this culinary cocaine. Here is the report of my experience.

The length of the lines (especially the infinitely snaking drive-thru line) made me initially skeptical; however, the wait was surprisingly short, expedited by an army of courteous employees who happily sped through a multitude of “guests” who couldn’t decide what to order from the most straightforward menu I’ve ever seen.

Actually, In-N-Out’s menu is much more extensive than the display above the cash register. Secret meals and ingredients are yours for the asking, if you know what to ask for, and this adds to the In-N-Out experience. In some pockets of California, ordering from this secret menu is considered a right of passage. I would hate to spoil a good secret now, so I’ll only give one example of something from the secret menu. Though it is not displayed anywhere in the restaurant, you can actually order a grilled cheese sandwich. There are many other secret menu items, but my lips are sealed.

Now, on to the food. Allow me to say that the “Double Double” I ordered is easily the best $2.99 I’ve ever spent. (The sticky hand I got from Wal-Mart last week is a distant second.) Golden toasted buns; two patties; two slices of cheese; abundant, real lettuce; a hearty tomato and a dousing of special sauce also make it probably one of the unhealthiest $2.99 I’ve ever spent (but oh-so-good). However, as far as fries go, I personally hate In-N-Out fries unless they are done the secret menu way.

Verdict: Like a dog whose bark is worse than his bite, the In-N-Out waiting experience is rather mild, and the food easily justifies the wait.