I got sick of the long lines at the Frisco’s In-N-Out Burger location. It has become the only fast food place where I lose weight because of the time I spent queuing. I decided it would be quicker to fly to California, the ancestral home of In-N-Out, and eat at one in the land where residents consider it another fast food chain, not a place to worship an animal-style burger like a bunch of dazed zombies.
This is my new branch of In-N-Out. It is at the Pinole exit of I-80 (ICBM coordinates: 37.9894758, -122.3098301). For my In-N-Out induction I ordered a “double-double animal-style” ($3.25) along with fries animal style ($3.30) and a chocolate shake ($1.99). Let’s go through each:
First, the shake. Just like a McDonald’s shake. Clearly, INO does not see the shake as a menu game changer and just provides a smaller (and cheaper) version of the competition’s that is “good ‘enuf”. Grade: Average.
Next, the fries. Same as McDonald’s. Shoe string dimensions and flaccid. When will restaurants learn that there is only one way to cook fries, and that is three times? No taste on their own. Animal style is what makes them different. The onions borrow the synergy with potatoes of a pommes lyonnaise and the sauce on animal style creates a messiness that makes sure that bestiality has never tasted so good. Grade: On their own. Average. Animal style: Inspired.
Finally, the meat of the matter, the burger. The bun is a POB (plain old bun) improved by the toasting. The meat has more flavor and umami than the grey pucks that dominate too many chain burgers. The ‘everything’ on it is the usual salad ingredients (lettuce, onions, tomato). The cheese is the same god-awful yellow pus you get at every other fast food chain. INO packages the burger in a snug-fitting paper bag from which the bun and meat pop out as if to say “eat me.” In the case of the double-double, the arrangement has a Georgia O’Keefe level of suggestiveness – which must be why the State of California requires they put a calorie count on the menu. Animal style defies INO’s neat packaging and makes the whole thing a mess, and a delicious one at that. Grade: Above average. Animal Style: Above Above Average.
The service was unbelievably friendly and gushy. When I arrived (no line at the counter) the teenage girls serving seemed genuinely pleased to see me. As I waited for my order they reassured me it was coming and a passing manager said: “good morning sir.”
Going back to the historic 2010 Dallas Burger Tour allows me to put INO in a Dallas context. None of the participating restaurants in that tour need have any worries of INO stealing their market. They are in a different league (especially Restaurant Ava and The Grape). Fast food chains, on the other hand, had better watch out. INO may prove to be a strong competitor.