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September 8, 2003

In-N-Out Burger: I don't get it.

A few blocks down from the hotel I've been staying out when I'm working out in Pasadena is an In-N-Out Burger stand. I usually ride my bike past it after work, and it always has a line of cars that stretches out to the street. I've been meaning to go there to see what the fuss is about.

Well, this weekend after I went to to see the bike races with my friends, I commented on the In-N-Out phenomenon. Since I'd never been to In-N-Out, we went there after the races.

I guess I'm just out of it. In-N-Out only has a few items on the menu: shakes, two or three choices or burgers, and fresh-cut fries. I had a burger with grilled onions and catsup.

I do like hamburgers. Doing a hamburger well is surprisingly tricky; I haven't really mastered the art at home. The best burgers are thick, and perfectly cooked. When I find a good one, it's usually done by the local variant of a diner; good burgers are hard to mass-produce. In our neighborhood in Atlanta, if I want a good burger, I go to the Galaxy Diner.

I guess I just don't get it. The In-N-Out burger was better than McDonald's, but not by a whole lot. The fries were ok, but perhaps not even as good as McDonald's. The the Coke was a coke. (I didn't try the shake.)

It reminded me of my reaction to Atlanta's Varsity restaurant. The Varsity is an Atlanta tradition, but to me, it's not one worth repeating.

I suspect I'm just the victim of not having grown up with it. When I was young, going to McDonald's was a treat.

The restaurant I missed when I moved away from Southern CA in '89 was El Pollo Loco. Their staple is flame-broiled chicken. (What I remember most is the corn or flour tortiallas and salsa they serve with every meal.) After I moved away in '89, I'd never been able to get back to one until I started working for Earthlink in Pasadena in June. Now they are my default choice for lunch, and they're still as good as I remember. Call me crazy, but I'll take El Pollo Loco over In-N-Out Burger any day.


A good hamburger costs $10 (including drink and tip), and you will need to an hour sitting in a restaurant.

Everything in McDonald's is junk to me, totally unaccptable.

If you rate a good restaurant burger 10, and McDonald's 1, then IN-N-Out is about 3-4 in my mind. It's still fast food, you can order it and eat in your car, you need only 20 minutes at most, and they are fresh at least.

There are always lines in IN-N-Out because McDonald, Burger King, Carl's Jr. all suck. IN-N-Out at least offers acceptable fast food.


you guys are idiots. in-n-out offers the best fast food you can get. everything is fresh, there are no freezers, i know because i work there.

I agree with you about El polo loco, but not with in-n-out I really miss those bugers. I now live in washington and really miss a good buger.

the problem is that you got a hamburger.

you gotta get the double-double man!

i never had in'n'out until high school,
and then i was converted. it isn't, in my mind, "the best food" but if i want fast food, they are the only choice.