In which I go to In-N-Out Burger

October 30, 2022 • 11:50 am

Yesterday I discovered that Davis has an In-N-Out Burger, a chain highly extolled by food experts like Anthony Bourdain and Gordon Ramsey (see below). It’s not found anywhere outside of California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Texas and Oregon, so I haven’t had one in many a moon.

After this discovery there was nothing else for me but to take my host to this joint for a late lunchl. There were two of us and this our visit.

First, the location, right off the freeway (I-80). It’s a pleasant sunny spot, and the restaurant is bright and spotless. If you’re driving from San Francisco east, hop off at the Davis exit and get yourself a burger.

Click photos to enlarge them. The exterior:

A pano of the inside.

The menu below looks limited, but there’s a whole slew of stuff not on it—the so-called “secret menu” (see it here). You can get root beer floats, grilled cheese sandwiches, get your fries or burgers “animal style”, and have that burger prepared a gazillion ways.

Below: our order. My friend Phil’s is on the right side: a hamburger served animal style and fries cooked animal style (fries prepared this way on the secret menu).

Mine on the left: the famous “double-double”, animal style, medium well (they don’t do medium rare) with lettuce, tomato, and grilled onion, and regular fries. Phil had lemonade on the side, and I had a root beer float (from the secret menu).

A double-double, animal style. As Bourdain argues below, this is a work of culinary art. Look at that thing: veggies on the bottom, where they should be, and fresh (the potatoes are also cut from fresh spuds and fried on site), two patties of proper size with American cheese, and a schmear of “animal sauce” (sort of like Russian dressing) on the bottom. The regular animal style burger has raw onion, but I like mine grilled.

My first bite: a cheeseburger in paradise!

And my root beer float, half root beer, half soft-serve ice cream. It was a better accompaniment than a milk shake (they do those, too), as it was lighter: a hybrid between a milkshake and a soft drink.

It was a great meal. Price for two people: $19.

The experts weigh in:

I put this short video up the other day; it’s Anthony Bourdain extolling the virtues of In-N-Out burgers (he’s eating a double-double, animal style). Note his claim that this is his favorite restaurant in Los Angeles.

And here’s Gordon Ramsay, who names this the chain as purveyors of favorite fast food, and also praises the double-double, animal style.

36 thoughts on “In which I go to In-N-Out Burger

  1. In-N-Out! Being able to eat there is one of the many benefits to living in Arizona. When I was (much) younger and living in California my standard order was a 4 x 3, four patties and three slices of cheese, but nothing else except tomato; I am not a fan of the spread. Now, I order a Double-Double, but still with nothing except tomato. They are easily the best fast-food burgers anywhere.

  2. Last time I ate at one, in Gilroy CA, it was disappointing. Burger overcooked, fries limp. But usually it’s pretty good, although there are lots of competitors these days that are on par.
    You do realize that they’re religious nutcases in line with Chick-fil-a. There are biblical references on some of the packaging.

    1. I have enjoyed many a double-double but I did not know that and never noticed. According to ‘kipedia:
      “In-N-Out prints Bible citations in small print on areas of packaging (such as “John 3:16”, “Proverbs 3:5”, “Proverbs 24:16”, “Nahum 1:17”, “Luke 6:35” and “Revelation 3:20″).[85] They are primarily found on the bottom underside of drink cups and the wrappers that hold their burgers together. This practice began in the 1980s during Rich Snyder’s presidency,[65] a reflection of the Christian beliefs held by the Snyder family.”

    2. I stopped at one probaby around Vallejo on I-80 going between Stanford and Sacto back in the day. Fries were good, but ultimately not as good as McDs. Eventually, I stopped because there was something politically wrong about them, though I can’t be arsed to remember what that was now. But glad Jerry enjoyed his time. He can repent later…. 8^)

  3. As a newly diagnosed diabetic, these treats are out. Strictly Banting now: no starches. But I’d happily eat what’s between the burger-bread halves, looks succulent.

  4. Once, while visiting L.A. many years ago, I went into an In-N-Out burger high on acid. It was too much to handle and I left, laughing hysterically. Sadly, I’ve never eaten there, even though I ended up living in L.A. for a year or so.

    I lived in Cheyenne for a number of years, and near my work was a small shack of a restaurant called In-N-Out burger. I ate there a lot as they made great chili, fries and burgers. I asked if they knew about the chain In-N-Out burger and they acknowledged it, but added they didn’t know about the chain when they started. About two years later they changed their name (I forget the name, but something generic). I asked them why the change; they were warned by the “real” In-N-Out burger to cease and desist, or be sued. I thought it extremely petty as there was no competition for hundreds of miles, and the joint was really just a hole in the wall and would never have been confused with the original chain.

    1. Yes, the brightly lit all-white antiseptic interior full of strangers is not conducive to a mellow trip; been there.

      People take trademarks way too seriously. We had a small-time hippy-run music festival called Beaverstock, and they got sued by whatever craven corporate entity that owns tge tights to the name ‘Woodstock’. Petty and pointless.

    2. The way I understand trademark law, if a company knows about a violation of their trademark and doesn’t pursue it, then they could lose the trademark. That’s why you get all these seemingly petty lawsuits. The company can’t just selectively let it slide. It’s all or nothing.

  5. I have never had an In-N-Out burger, although I lived in California for 3 years. Now I need to get there and give it a try. Here in New Mexico, we have a local fast food chain called Blake’s Lottaburger that makes a pretty good green chile cheeseburger. They are spread around the state and also have places in Tucson and El Paso. I won’t go to any other fast food joints.

  6. Another plus: they will provide, on request, a plain beef patty without seasoning for your d*g. Sheldon loves it.

  7. When we were planning a trip to California our American friends said we had to try in-and-out burger. That it was legend.

    Well, we did. Twice. And came away wondering what the fuss was about. (We also tried animal style).

    It’s a fast food burger so I wasn’t going in with any super high bar for judging it. But it just seemed like an average burger in every way. Nothing at all that would make me crave it or seek it out again.

    For me Shake Shack is much closer to deserving the hype.

    1. Five Guys have several outlets in the South of England. Last time I went to one, there were clearly more than five guys working there and some of the guys were gals. I call shenanigans.

      The burgers were pretty good and the chips were excellent although even the smallest portion was too much for one person. Also, they were fried in peanut oil, so people with allergies should avoid.

  8. Not as good as they used to be, but still good. As good as Shake Shack in New York. The lines are always long here in Santa Barbara at the single outlet.

  9. While living in L.A. in ‘88, many people modified their bumper sticker to read In ‘N Out urge. Funny fad; I wonder if people still do that.

  10. Why is it called a root beer “float”… because the ice cream is floating in the root beer. Sorry, but that is not a root beer float. A root beer shake, if you will. Takes all the culinary fun out of it, because the ice cream freezes the root beer on the fringes (same with a cola float), so you have the extra haptic feeling of ice, ice cream, and soda. Don’t mean to be a party pooper, but hell, that just ain’t the real thing.

    1. The soft-serve ice cream was indeed largely floating atop the root beer. This is very different from the root beer floats I know, too, but it was different in a good way: appropriate for a drink to go with a burger and fries.

  11. I first heard of it in a movie. I thought it was fictional.

    Was it in Lethal Weapon? Not Pulp Fiction, was it?

    Both a CA settings.

      1. Of course!

        Pulp Fiction was the – I presume, fictional – Big Kahuna Burger – that Hawaiian burger joint.

  12. Here’s something interesting about the company.

    The current president and owner of the company is Lynsi Snyder, daughter of Guy, and the only grandchild of the Snyders. In 2012, she gained 50% control of the company when she turned 30. On May 5th, 2017, she gained full ownership at the age of 35. The Bloomberg Billionaires Index has declared her to be the youngest female billionaire in America.

    A list of all their locations, and more to come, why she’s so rich. My first one was in 1996 in Milpitas, nearest one to the Bay Area. Heard so much hype over the years from all the displaced Southern Californians, was disappointed to find them greasy to my liking.

  13. I’ve been to an In-N-Out burger at least once or twice. They’re fine. About on par with Whataburger if I remember correctly.

    But their whole secret menu thing irritates me. If it’s such a common order, just put it on the menu, already. Their cash registers already have the buttons for it, and they even advertise some of the ‘secret’ options on their website. Is there some reason to hide it from occasional customers visiting in person? It just smacks of phony exclusivity for those ‘in the know’.

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