In-N-Out Burger Is Overrated (Sorry)

Image: iStock

I'm currently in the US for a business event. One of the things I've never done, but is practically a tradition for many of my friends when they're here, is to eat at In-and-Out Burger. So, I'm wondering what all the fuss is about. Is In-N-Out Burger that good? Or are the burgers overrated? I visited an In-N-Out Burger joint on the Las Vegas strip to find out.

In store service

The In-N-Out Burger menu is very simple. There are just three burgers to choose from; the hamburger, cheeseburger and double-double. I chose the hamburger and took the option of onions offered by my server. You can order the burger on its own or with a generous side-order of french fries which were about the same serving size as a large fries and McDonalds. I also grabbed a medium soft drink, which I poured myself from the dispensers.

When I arrived, there were four people in the queue ahead of me, and quite a few waiting for their meals. Most of the seats in the indoor restaurant area were full. But I found a seat outside in the sun.

From the time I walked into the restaurant till I received my meal, it took about 10 minutes. This was just before noon.

The burger

Here's what the picture on In-N-Out's menu promises.

Image: Anthony Caruana

And here's what I got.

Image: Anthony Caruana

At first glance, they don't look too different so, I was pretty happy that what I received was close enough to promise of the menu. It was a little smaller than I'd like - next time I'll order a Double-Double with two beef patties. That brings me to my first bite.

Taste test

I assumed the onion would be somewhat more cooked than what I received. The onion in the burger was basically a slice that had been very lightly fried and, by the time I got the burger to my seat after to it was handed over, it was cold. However, it wasn't terrible to eat.

After a couple of bites I took a look at a cross-section of the burger. That patty is very thin - about 5mm at its thickest and the colour was not that appetising.

Image: Anthony Caruana

The bun was soft but didn't fall apart from the moisture of the tomato and other fillings. But the flavours were a little bland. There's wasn't anything wrong with my burger - it was just boring.

My side order of fries was barely passable. In-N-Out is very busy. About 20 orders were processed before mine as I waited for my meal to be delivered. And I suspect that has lead to some shortcuts being taken in the preparation process. One of those, at least based on my experience, was that my fries were a little undercooked. Not one of the fries was close to being crisp. They were all sad and floppy.

At least the drink was cold.

The total cost for my meal was US$7.95 - about $10.50 in our money. That's a lot dearer than McDonalds' current Double Beef and Bacon Deal which is $5. And it's a less filling meal than a medium Big Mac meal which is about the same price.

The verdict

I'm not going to go out of my way again to hit In-N-Out. While it was not terrible, the burger was bland in my opinion. Service was good but I'm fussy when it comes to my burgers and the undercooked onion and uber-thin patty left me hungry. In-N-Out was OK it's hard to see why people rave about it. Sure, it's cheap but it seems to be a case of getting what you paid for.

Verdict: Overrated


Comments

    Having eaten in California branches for the 20 years I lived in the US I can say the key is freshness compared to other fast food burger places.
    Although my family enjoys the burgers I find them bland with meat tasteless and the bread very "artificial" especially after comparing to a home made burger on the BBQ. Using "plastic" cheese also doesn't help. Also, whereas the fries really aren't crispy they are great and very fresh tasting. Shakes are awesome and a meal in themselves
    For a better burger in the US you have to go to sit down at Red Robin or Rubies to name my favorites in CA

    That's weird. Despite hearing Americans rave about In-N-Out burger for well over a decade, I'd never actually seen any pictures of one... that's pretty underwhelming. It just looks like someone tried to use slightly fresher/nicer ingredients and replicate a fairly simple HJ's burger. Do they not have Burger Urge or Grill'd or some kind of equivalent to those over there?

      Five Guys I guess is their fancier option. I've never tried that.

    Maybe get cheese on your burgers. In & Out isn't for the bogan Aussie that wants his beetroot and egg.
    In & Out is amazing if you forget about the horrible food we Aussies think is good back home.
    Like I said, try cheese on your burger or the double before you proclaim it overrated.
    They are beautiful!
    Now go have Pinks Hotdogs and don't ever tell anyone they are overrated.

      WTF since when was beetroot and egg a bogan addition to a burger, that with pineapple gives so much extra flavor.

      I agree that a burger without cheese just isn't worth it though.

      However i had INO burger in california back in 1998, and (as a 16 year old ) i was extremely unimpressed, even maccas and wendies over there had better burgers, though i did love Carls Jr.

    Can I get a Hallelujah? I can't believe people have been willing to line-up for hours to try and get one here - are we really that desperate in this country? They're not bad burgers but really nothing special.
    Would I get one over a McD's or HJ? It depends on how far out of my way I'd have to go. Would I line up for hours to get one? No freaking way, man.

    I guess there's no accounting for different taste.

    100% agree with you. We had them in LA on our last trip and there was nothing special about it. The buns were too sweet (common in US) and there wasn't any proper flavour profile. Very overrated.

    The attraction of In-N-Out is partly the service and freshness, but mostly the novelty of the secret menu.

    Your onion issue would have been avoided if you had asked for them to be well done.

    Might need to re-do this after a bit of research (https://www.thrillist.com/eat/los-angeles/the-in-n-out-secret-menu-ranked)

    Having said that, 5 Guys is far superior in service, freshness and quality (plus the free peanuts while you wait), but Shake Shack is by far the better burger joint in the US (based on research conducted on a group of 2 Australians).

    It's all about ordering off the secret menu

    You ordered wrong. You want a Double Double, animal-style with chopped chiles. People go on and on and fucking on about how great In N Out is and I guess the uninitiated expect something other than a fast food chain burger, when the thing people love about it is that it is an EXCEPTIONAL example of a fast food chain burger, and not some gourmet horseshit with feta, speck and wasabi aioli. The fries are hella bad though. Just get two burgers and a root beer float and you're golden.

    Last edited 09/05/18 10:23 pm

      This guy knows whats up. From memory I dont think the double double is on the menu.
      The double double animal sytle I had in vegas was awesome!

    For those of you based in Sydney there’s a cafe called DoubleShot in Moore Park Supacenta that does the most amazing burgers you have ever eaten. Perfect meat, perfect cheese taste and melt.
    They have only recently moved into the burger world but geez, word of mouth and an amazing burger has meant that they are doing very well.
    Definitely the one reason to be happy to go to that centre when your spouse tells you she needs some new furniture!

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