I Finally Ate an In-N-Out Burger

In N Out 005.jpg
Double-double, done up "animal style."
When the first locations of California-based burger chain In-N-Out Burger opened in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, emotions ran high. Perhaps too high. One notable woman wept loudly into her fries as she exclaimed, "Pinch me, it doesn't feel real!"

It felt very real to me as I waited in a line out the door with my extended family to try my first In-N-Out burger on a sunny Saturday afternoon, my rambunctious first-cousin-once-removed (thanks for the ridiculously clumsy nomenclature, genealogists) climbing my limbs like a tree as we waited for the herd of In-N-Out fans to slowly shuffle forward toward the cash registers.

Even though this particular In-N-Out location in Fort Worth's tony West 7th Street development had opened months ago, my cousins told me, the line was out the door every single day. In the parking lot, miniature meltdowns were occurring as frustrated drivers found themselves unable to navigate the filled-up parking lot and snaking drive-thru lines.

Surely, I thought to myself as I surveyed the madness, a fast food burger cannot be worth all of this.

In N Out 006.jpg
In-N-Out also gains big points for its paper hats, which will occupy a toddler for at least as long as it takes for you to finish your burger.
As it turns out, an In-N-Out burger was actually worth the wait.

On the recommendation of my cousins (they're smart folks), I ordered a double-double "animal style." This [somewhat obnoxious] secret ordering code just means that your double-meat cheeseburger comes with grilled onions, pickles and extra "spread" (similar to Thousand Island dressing, or the "secret sauce" on a Big Mac). Thank God there's a code term for this, though, because I'm not really keen on the idea of ordering anything at all with "extra spread."

The "animal style" burger was just my cup of tea: The patties were nicely thin and covered completely with gooey, melted cheese that affixed the caramelized onions in place, while the pickles added another vibrant layer of brightness to the already tangy "spread." I've heard the In-N-Out burger referred to as "well-balanced," and I'd have to agree. Although it was wonderfully messy to eat, everything mostly stayed in place and no one ingredient overpowered the others.

I was less taken with the fries, which I tried in both the regular and "crispy" incarnations. It irked me that you'd have to order fries crispy to begin with -- fries should be crispy, period -- and they weren't all that crispy after all. They were oddly tough and chewy, and their texture was not improved with a swipe through In-N-Out's undersalted ketchup. But in the face of that burger -- inhaled in under two minutes, I might add -- I honestly didn't care.

The In-N-Out experience was worth the minefield of a parking lot, worth the dreary wait, worth the battling for a table and worth the crappy fries. But just this once. It was a good fast food burger, but I'd still place Whataburger and Five Guys ahead of it on the fast food chain scale of burgers.

And Whataburger's fancy ketchup remains the gold standard of fast food ketchups. In fact, its red jalapeño-kicked Spicy Ketchup is in stores for a limited time starting today. There are no jalapeños to be found at In-N-Out.



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66 comments
Alfred Estrada
Alfred Estrada

IN N OUT IS THE BEST OLD FASHION BURGER OU WILL EVER EAT

stochasticity
stochasticity

" There are no jalapeños to be found at In-N-Out."

Ask for the chopped chilis, either in the burger or on the side. Or better yet, "chilis grilled in", where they grill them with the burger patty. You can also ask for "mustard-grilled" or heavy mustard grilled, if you're a Texas no-ketchup, no-spread type.

Not sure what type of peppers they use, but they taste similar to pepperonis. Personally, I think that they taste better in burgers than jalapeños. 

Galveston Bay
Galveston Bay

I haven't tried the In-N-Out.  After all the hype, I was disappointed with Five Guys.  A place called Mooyah recently opened in Deer Park and has a good burger.  Also had my first Carls Jr. recently and will be back.  If you want a good non fast food burger, Stomps in Bayview is hard to beat.

Debra36s
Debra36s

There is nothing like a Whataburger Taquito at 2am.  They are heavenly.

Albert Nurick
Albert Nurick

In-N-Out makes a good burger for fast food, but I don't see it as something worth waiting or driving for.  They're the Krispy Kreme of the burger world - lots of noise when they show up, but I wonder where they'll be in five years.

Lisa
Lisa

yeah Steak n Shake! There is something about that place. I like the portion sizes, the prices, the atmosphere, the butter burgers, the shakes...It's all just perfect. The fries get cold fast b/c they're the superskinny kind, but they stay crispy. I eat them with a fork.

Jhnagten
Jhnagten

How about little bitty burger barn thats my fav love the cowboy burger and the crack fries, they rock

MightyQuinn
MightyQuinn

There are peppers at In-N-Out - You can ask for a packet, or get them diced on the bottom of your burger by asking for “chopped chilis.” This website is a good definitive look at the entire "secret menu".  http://www.badmouth.net/in-n-o...

Neil Hamburger
Neil Hamburger

In-N-Out is most literal name they could have picked. #pigpeople #stomachaids

Fejsplace
Fejsplace

Haven't tried In-N-Out yet as they aren't in Houston that I know of. I do eat What-a-burger regularly.  Sometimes it's great, other times it sucks, just like any place.  My favorite happens to be Steak-n-Shake.  Hamburgers are good and there are a bunch of variations(make sure to get the mustard relish). Fries are good if you eat them first before they get cold. Shakes are really good. Plus you can get a single,double or triple hamburger with fries for $4.00.  Throw in another $1.00 and get a iced tea.

csoakley
csoakley

Whataburger, Five Guys, In-N-Out. What the hell, I like them ALL!! Hubcap is my favorite but on the road any of these 3 will do.

I think one reason why people have problems with In-N-Out fries is that all they are is potatoes that are cut fresh every day (not pulled from a freezer) and fried. No delicious sugar coating (like McDonalds, and yes even Whataburger) so the In-N-Out fries may come out tasting a bit more "potato-ey" than people are used to.

SirRon
SirRon

"It was a good fast food burger, but I'd still place Whataburger and Five Guys ahead of it on the fast food chain scale of burgers."

Damnit Shilcutt.

Terry Alexander
Terry Alexander

I actually enjoyed my In-N-Out experience when we visited LA. I think it would be a tough decision if I had one right next to Whataburger and had to make a choice. I like to think that my heart would choose Whataburger. I'm pretty confident I would.TA

Brooke Viggiano
Brooke Viggiano

Have only had In-N-Out in Vegas after Rehab (the pool party, not the real kind) but holy sheeeet it was good! 

Five Guys is pretty good, I appreciate the free peanuts and the fact that ordering a Little Burger is actually ordering a regular sized burger. Makes me feel a little better about myself.

I wish Bobby's Burger Palace would make its way around, fries with a creamy tangy fry sauce, burgers "crunchified" w/ crispy potato chips, and insane milkshakes...mmm 

Texmex01
Texmex01

I love In N Out , and Whataburger (although I wish they would bring back the Fajita tacos they had way back when) , tey both are awesome burgers, and when In N Out opens in Houston, I will just be eatin twice as many burgers!!!

Anonymous
Anonymous

Wait you were in Fort Worth and went to In-N-Out? I hope you also went to Fred's, Kinkaid's, Charlie's, Tommy's, or Dutch's...I'd say all those Fort Worth places serve better burgers than In-N-Out.

Matthew
Matthew

how were the "non-crispy" fries?

Jalapeno
Jalapeno

No jalapenos:  that's animalistic right there.  California has jalapenos, right?  I like 5 Guys okay, but the meat at Smash Burger is even juicier.

Jeff
Jeff

Totally agree on the post. I had heard so much hype and was completely disappointed. I first said Whataburger was better too. Went to 5 Guys and way better. I gave it up to being new in Dallas so I gave it a second chance in San Duego even asking them what was all the secret things I could do. Better but still not as good. And yes, why should I have to know secret codes and tell them how to cook my fries?

Bruce R
Bruce R

I was somewhat underwhelmed by In-N-Out, but then again I used to live in the SF Bay area and had plenty of their burgers.  Whataburger, makes an OK burger, slightly better than average for fast food, but the rest of their menu pretty much sucks.

LW
LW

But way less overrated than In-n-Out, given that the burgers are pretty comparable. 

bibulb
bibulb

(A) I swear that there used to be an In-N-Out Burger on Lamar in Austin back in the early/mid-'80s, close-ish (somewhere within a few miles) to where Central Market is now. If it wasn't In-N-Out, I'd love to know what it actually was...

Goddamnit, now I need a time machine. AGAIN. (B) Whataburger Spicy Ketchup? Got surprised by that this evening for dinner. YES, PLEASE.

Pimpadelic_cowboy
Pimpadelic_cowboy

I will have to completely agree on the fries. I ate them to keep from wasting money. And thanks for postin the boy lol

Pooop
Pooop

Can you elaborate on why you prefer Whataburger/Five Guys to In-N-Out? Serious question.

SirRon
SirRon

"but I wonder where they'll be in five years"

Poppycock. You can't be serious. Sometimes I don't think I'm a real Texan.

Bruce R
Bruce R

I'm guessing Mr. Hamburger is between the ages of 15 and 19 years old.

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

Is Steak-n-shake a chain or a mom and pop? Where can I find this place? I've never seen one.

Ivalee
Ivalee

Around the Dallas area, there are the Texas Burger chain, they are usually near a freeway or some attached to a gas station.  Very good burgers, cooked to order on a flat top with a good char on the patty.

JayC
JayC

the only In-N-Out I've been to was the one in SF at the Fisherman's Wharf.  pretty much a zoo, messy and the burgers were ok, fries tasted frozen.  I was told that was one of the worst to compare since it was in the tourist area, still not impressed.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

"...the rest of their menu pretty much sucks."

Have you tried their breakfast items? Honey-butter chicken biscuits and potato-egg-and-cheese taquitos with extra salsa are where. It's. At.

cwc
cwc

hillbert's on lamar or top notch (place on dazed and confused) on burnet.

Albert Nurick
Albert Nurick

I lived in Austin in that timeframe, and while I'm sure In-N-Out wasn't there, I'm not sure about the place you're referring to.  Dan's?  The place in the movie Slacker?

LW
LW

(A)...I wanna make a wild guess and say P.Terry's?

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

I prefer Five Guys because it's one of the very few burger joints (fast food or otherwise) where the meat is so good that I can order a cheeseburger with nothing else except a little mustard and be perfectly happy. So juicy, so good.

And I love Whataburger because -- like Five Guys -- you can customize your burger (or chicken sandwich or breakfast taquito or whatever) nearly endlessly. Add grilled onions, grilled jalapenos, honey BBQ sauce, A1 sauce, shredded cheese instead of sliced, Texas toast instead of regular buns, extra crispy bacon, whatever you want. There are no pre-made burgers sitting back there wilting under a heat lamp. Both places make them to order and make them to your exact specifications. Love it.

Christine Ha
Christine Ha

KS, I'm totally with you on that Five Guys makes a better burger than In-N-Out. In-N-Out is good, but I have never understood the hype. The meat-and-bun flavor combination is what makes or breaks a burger, and Five Guys does it better than In-N-Out, simple as that. Plus who doesn't love the mushroom option available at Five Guys? I'll take that over animal style any day.

Albert Nurick
Albert Nurick

I heard the same think about Krispy Kreme - rabid fans, nationwide success.  Now where are they in Houston?

Ivalee
Ivalee

It is a chain.  There is one on the 290 corridor at 1960 and Elderidge, a couple of doors down from a Bullritos.  This one is 24 hr.  There used to a S & S in Humble and one in the Champions area in the late '70s.  They closed, looks like they are coming back.  The Ellderidge location has beenn there at least 4 years.  They use fresh beef.  They are pretty good.

Megan
Megan

Chain, though the original is in Bloomington, IL (Central Illinois represent!).  For whatever reason, they insist on serving Cincinnati-style chili five-way along with the burgers.  There was a Steak-and-Shake in my college town, and that was the place for late-night study breaks (unless you wanted a pizza vagina).

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Steak 'n Shake is a chain, and we have one in Houston out on FM 1960. The shakes are alright, but the burgers are just okay.

Julie Peterson
Julie Peterson

I will literally get out of bed in order to get a honey butter chicken biscuit by 11 a.m. And yes, that's a big deal . . .

taylordodge
taylordodge

nothing makes drunk sorority girls forget drunken sorority girl drama like honey butter chicken biscuits. end of story. #experienced

JayC
JayC

BOB - breakfast on a bun!

Bruce R
Bruce R

I haven't tried their breakfast.  I'm not likely to be drawn to biscuits, but that's just me. And if I'm getting taquitos (tacos, burritos, etc.) I'd drive past a Whataburger to go to a decent taqueria.

I realize that Whataburger has its vocal supporters, and I respect their enthusiasm.  But like Taco Cabana, I can't seem to figure out a way for it to appeal to me, despite repeated attempts.

Albert Nurick
Albert Nurick

The way I judge a burger is to order one sans sauces.  That way the flavor of the ingredients is front and center, and not hidden behind mustard, ketchup, or (gasp) mayo. 

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

Just goes to show you how different experiences can be...

The last time I had a Whataburger the meat was not juicy, the filling not great, the burger less than memorable, and all I could think was that it tasted like one of those frozen patty burgers you microwave. This is the one off of Shepherd near the 59 freeway. It was 9 years ago. I'm not a huge fast-food eater, so I never went back. Based on my experience then, MacDonald's is better.

As for 5 Guys, I tried the new one in Sugar Land at Hwy 6 and 59 and was wholly unimpressed. Meat was overcooked, not juicy at all. Fries were ok. Service was lackluster, too, and it was expensive. For the price (about $9 for a burger and fries) Fuddrucker's has them beat hands down.

On the other hand, the burgers at In 'n Out are always good every time, piping hot and served with a smile. It's probably one of the few fast few joints I actually crave. Granted, I've only had the ones in California, but it doesn't matter which one you stop at, the food is always delicious. They're probably as good as Shake Shack in NYC, for a fraction of the price. On my last trip to California, I made a late night (11pm) run for In 'n Out. All I had was the double double with grilled onions. It cost $3.45 out the door and it was juicy and delicious.  I've NEVER seen pre-made burgers sitting under a heat lamp. They are always coming right off the grill and into my lapbox (I usually take them to-go).

SirRon
SirRon

Ugh, c'mon Albert. You know what they have in common? They are both wildly successful in all markets they are enter. "Fans" and "nationwide success"? Those things are super easy to come by, right? Krispy Kreme isn't in our market anymore thanks to a legal dispute... at least that is how I understand the situation. It is sure as hell not because people stopped eating there.

You can still like Whataburger, however your comment above is silly. McDonalds does quite well in California, so there is that data point.

Megan
Megan

I am convinced that Taco Cabana is only good at 3 am when you're slightly intoxicated. 

Terry Alexander
Terry Alexander

Fuddruckers has never disappointed me. And that goes all the way back to when you still had to walk past their butcher shop to order.TA

TX Bohemian
TX Bohemian

Fudruckers assets were bought out of bankruptcy by Luby's in 2010 and rolled into that entity, which is run and controlled by Chris and Harris Pappas.  So, essentially, they are Pappas run.  http://www.chron.com/business/...

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

Fudd's has always been great for me, especially the Fountain Lakes location. From the buns to the hot cheddar cheese, to the juicy patties, to the fries, to the milkshakes, it has always been a home run. And it's always busy. Interesting about the bankruptcy. A quick check says this happened back in April 2010.  

FudzRudz
FudzRudz

Fudrucker's is bankrupt for a reason! 

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