breaking the fast food ban

If I’m going to break my boycott on fast food then it better be for good reasons. For instance:

1. I am on vacation.
2. I am on vacation in Southern California.
3. I am on vacation in Southern California, which is home to In ‘n Out Burgers.

Started by Harry and Esther Snyder in 1948,  In ‘n Out Burgers is probably the most efficient and cheerful fast food company that I’ve seen–they even have employees with computers taking orders in the drive thru to expedite your dining experience! It’s impressive. I have two theories for this efficiency and cheerfulness: either the staff is genuinely happy, or its the abundance of vitamin D in sunny California that makes them so. Whatever the reason, I love my pit-stops at In ‘n Out.

The official menu isn’t big. It adheres to the wisdom of keeping it simple. You have the choice of:  burger, cheeseburger, double double  burger (two beef patties and two slices of cheese), fries and then the beverage choice of soft drinks or milkshakes. By keeping it simple, In ‘n Out Burger is able to make things fresh and to make them well. Burgers aren’t frozen, fries are cut on site, and milkshakes are still made with real ice cream.

They’re also able to  customize your order. This is In ‘n Out’s explanation of the “non-official” menu, or the highly buzzed about “secret” menu as so many like to call it. The company has their version dubbing it the “not-so-secret menu”, but the most extensive external version that I’ve seen is found here.

So how do the burgers taste? The meat is dependent on who is at the grill, but essentially it is ground chuck, which could use less sodium. For me, the highlight of the burger comes from everything else: fresh tomatoes, whole pieces of crispy iceberg lettuce (not that shredded stuff that  we normally see), cheese, and In ‘n Out spread which resembles thousand island dressing. Put that all together with the beef patty, sandwich it between the bun which has been lightly toasted, and you have a pretty decent burger.

The fries are also pretty good. Cut a little bigger than matchstick size, they’re lightly fried and just barely tossed in salt. You can have them served up a number of ways: extra crispy, lite, animal style (two slices of melted cheese, grilled onions and spread), cheesy, or no salt.

Yes, I know, they’re not necessarily the healthiest meals ever, nor are they Heston Blumenthal’s perfect burger, but I can’t ever seem to pass them up. And while the  family run company has no plans for opening up the business to the public or to franchise their stores, here’s to wishing that they’ll someday make it over to Canada or the East Coast. Until then, you’ll find me breaking my fast food boycott and happily standing in the lines whenever I’m on the West Coast.

Restaurant: In ‘n Out Burgers (They’re everywhere in SoCal)
Food: My fix for burgers and cheeseburgers on the go.
Price point: The change in my pocket.
Service: Cheerful and efficient.


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