Continuing Burger Friday’s American burger adventure, our next stop was the famous In-N-Out Burger.
Originating as a drive-thru some 60 years ago, it is now one of the most iconic of burger chain restaurants on the west coast of the USA. As the chain expanded over the years, it, unlike many other stores, has avoided adding products such as chicken or salads to its menu. Neither has it changed its preparation methods. This is, simply, good old-fashioned food.
The fact that it is only available on the west coast had eluded us until we realised that we were about to leave the state of California and this burger opportunity could be gone for a significant amount of time. With FOMO striking (fear of missing out), it was a somewhat frantic state that we raced to the Fisherman's Wharf store in San Francisco to see if the burger was going to be the best thing since sliced bread or just over-hyped like Michael Hurley.
Located right on the bay of San Fran, the hype was evident from the big line streaming out the door. Having done some solid research while in the queue (i.e., five minutes of googling on the iPhone), we stepped up to the counter and duly ordered the double double burger and asked to turn it animal style. While turning it animal style sounds like we were asking to go all Grant Hackett and start flipping grand pianos, it is actually referring to the cooking style and toppings of one of the most popular ways to have an In-N-Out burger off the Secret Menu.
This Secret Menu is actually not so secret afterall because they advertise it on their website. Instead of a broad menu like other competitors, In-N-Out just has a real simple menu with maybe ten items, but also has unadvertised variations of its burgers that are based on customer preferences. These include: double meat, 4 x 4, grilled cheese, protein style and animal style.
The Double Double burger animal style is two mustard cooked beef patties, double American cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, ketchup, grilled onions and a spread sauce (somewhat similar to a thousand island dressing or perhaps more literally, like the sauce you get on a Big Mac).
The burger came out presented in a cardboard container and unlike every other chain restaurant burger actually looked like the pictures you see of it. Its presentation was flawless. The burger was cooked to a medium well and was very very tasty. The bun was soft, in an almost velvet-sledge-hammer-style, and with the addition of pickles, tomatoes and onion this was a full flavoured and well balanced burger. The combination of ketchup and the spread was spot on.
My criticisms would be that the double double American cheese just overwhelmed the burger taste a little bit too much. While the cooking methods haven't changed in 60 years, I think you could tell that this burger was not going to be good for the cholesterol levels.
We accompanied our burger with some excellent homemade fries which you can actually see still have the potato skin on to evidence they may have really originated from real the vegetable. Coming in with an endless soft drink refills at a total of sub-$8USD, this clearly gets full marks for value.
In honour of In-N-Out originating in 1948, I will dub this burger after NBA hall of famer Nate Archibald who was also born in that fabled year. Archibald was a willing passer and an adequate midrange shooter. It was his speed and agility, however, that made him difficult to guard in the open court. Like Nate, the In-N-Out burger franchise is a very good burger by itself, but the speed of service, consistency, presentation and price make this burger great.
If on the West Coast of USA make sure you stop by In-N-Out Burger and see what the hype is all about.
Burger Friday rating: 39.5/50