Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Eating San Diego: In-N-Out Burger

There comes a time in every man's life when he needs to decide if Donny really was correct: is an In-N-Out burger a good burger after all?

After four hours from Milwaukee to Phoenix, then another hour from Phoenix to San Diego, about ten crying children, four drunken frat boys, three cans of Diet Coke, two annoying emergency announcements, and one completely flavorless turkey sandwich, I was ready for some food.

I needed greasy. I needy fatty. I needed something hot, quick, and quintessentially West Coast. I needed an In-N-Out burger.

Luckily, there was one located not too far from the Eating Milwaukee/San Diego's temporary compound in Ocean Beach. It was about 11pm by the time we got there, and the restaurant was filled with high-school age hipsters. Oh, boy.

The menu board at an In-N-Out is a simple affair, not unlike the slightly-more-familiar-to-Wisconsinites Five Guys:

I ordered a double-double something-or-other meal, which included fries and a drink. Surprisingly, for all the hype and raves, the ticket total wasn't painful at all:

When our order was ready (about 7 minutes or so), I was greeted by this wonderful bucket of cholesterol love:

Kevin was sure to request extra packets of "spread," which is in essence just thousand island dressing (or, for the dressing impaired: ketchup, mayo, and pickle relish, sometimes with chopped egg). The fries were gloriously hot and crunchy, despite their slightly pallid appearance. The crunchy outside gave way to a well-cooked and never mealy inside, without the "fluffy" blanched texture of McDonalds fries.

Dipped in the "spread," these salty sticks of holiness were even better, and it's certainly something I'm going to have to try with fries back home. 

And as for the burger, well, let's just say all the hype might actually be deserved...

First of all, the bun was perfectly toasted. PERFECTLY toasted. Crunchy, chewy, and not the least bit greasy. The meat patties were well grilled, with a tasty ring of caramelization around the edge. Just a few onions, and a whole heap of crisp, cold lettuce, a little "spread," and some melted yellow cheez, and everything added up to an amazing sandwich.

The best comparison I can make is to a Five Guys burger, but even that doesn't quite match up. Five guys is heavy, this somehow wasn't as much. A Kopps burger is all about big beef, big cheese, big onions, and big butter... this wasn't. This was a little more than exciting... finally, a burger that really didn't have an analog in my book.

The one thing I wasn't quite prepared for was the preponderance of biblical references throughout the meal... hidden in nearly every piece of paper or plastic was a bible verse... kind of made me feel guilty for the amount of times I cursed when I burnt my mouth on the hot fries. So, for folks who have a inclination towards staying away from businesses who make no bones about their faith, well, be warned. For everyone else, enjoy!

Report Card:
Atmosphere: C+
This is fast food. And a chain. A fast food chain. Which I know I said we'd never write about, but I'm breaking a rule. Don't expect fine crystal and classical music, this is about as bare-bones as it gets.

Prices: A
An awesome burger and fantastic fries, with an endless soda... $6? Not bad at all.

Service: B
It's fast food. As long as they get your order right, can you really fault them for anything?

The Food: B+
Maybe it's not the best burger I've ever eaten, but it certainly makes it into the top 10. Everything that should be present in a good cheeseburger is here. Which is good, considering it's the only thing In-N-Out Burger makes!

The Details:

In-N-Out Burger

Look for more Eating San Diego reviews, including the Corvette Diner in San Diego, and Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles in Hollywood...  


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