The hamburger is America’s favourite dish. Period. The nation’s fondness of this humble meal ensures that hamburgers can be found on almost any restaurant menu around the country. Establishments range from hole in the wall joints serving a single style of burger to loyal followings, mom and pop dinners established before you had even tasted your first juicy beef patty, vintage burger drive-thrus where high school girls on roller-skates zip your burger over and clip a tray to your car window for dining convenience, and fine dining restaurants putting a modern spin on the hamburger by using premium ingredients and elaborate cooking techniques.
I’m sure you’re aware of the all too familiar global fast food chains that mostly massacre the great hamburger; McDonalds, Burger King, and if you’re familiar with American chains; Jack In The Box, Sonic and Carl Jr. The list is endless. But there are a number of chains in America that do justice in the fast food industry, I’ve previously mentioned Five Guys, Smashburger and Shake Shack in past posts but one chain that rules them all is In-N-Out Burger. Established in 1948 by husband and wife team, Harry and Esther Syder, with a simple plan that is still in use today, “Give customers the freshest, highest quality foods you can buy and provide them with friendly service in a sparkling clean environment”. In-N-Out started as a single restaurant in South California and was the first drive-thru hamburger stand in America, allowing drivers to place orders via a two-way speaker system, and revolutionising the fast food industry forever!
Until recently In-N-Out could only be found in the state of California (there are now a handful of branches in Texas, Nevada, Arizona and Utah). In-N-Out’s slow expansion is testimony to the Syder families belief to ensure quality above anything else. The company remains independent and family owned with a strong, yet simple ethos; fresh local produce, cooked simply without the use of artificial ingredients. In fact, In-N-Out stand by this ethos so much that no restaurant has a freezer, heat lamp or microwave, as all food is prepared fresh in-house. The menu is concise with only five items that can be ordered; hamburger, cheeseburger, double cheeseburger (or double-double), fries and shakes (which come in strawberry, vanilla and chocolate). All items are cooked to order and are excellent examples of fast food victories. Not only are these hamburgers delicious but prices are incredibly reasonable, a hamburger will cost you less than two bucks.
It’s easy to sample every item from the menu after only a few visits, or so it would seem. For those not in the know In-N-Out employ a ‘Secret Menu’ that is not advertised in restaurants, although all staff are thoroughly trained in the art of this secret menu, so you can be safe in the knowledge that your order will come as requested. So now it’s time for you to learn the ways of the infamous In-N-Out secret menu. Along with the standard single and double burgers, you are able to request any combination of meat and cheese, up to four patties, for a single sandwich. For example a Three by Three will get you a triple cheeseburger, or a Two by Four will see two patties cooked with four slice of cheese. You get the idea.
Not in the mood for a hamburger but the kids are desperate for an In-N-Out fix, well you have a couple of options here. How about a Grilled Cheese (a toasted bun with two slices of American cheese melted between), or perhaps a Wish Burger (as in, “I wish there was meat in this hamburger”), a toasted bun piled high with hand-leafed lettuce, sliced tomatoes, onions and pickle.
Maybe you’re watching the carbs, and for you sir I say order your burger Protein Style, where your patty will come wrapped in hand-leafed lettuce instead of a bun. And for the ultimate Atkins-friendly diet, oder the Flying Dutchman, two slices of cheese melted between two burger patties. No rabbit food here, just pure, unadulterated protein and fat.
You can add some heat to your sandwich by asking for any burger Mustard Grilled, where mustard is added to the patty before flipping so it sizzles into the meat on the grill top. Although, personally I gravitate towards ordering my burger Animal Style, which sees the burger mustard grilled and dressed with grilled onions (which have a rich, caramelised flavour), extra sliced pickles and extra “spread”, In-N-Out’s trademark sauce that’s added to every burger (reminiscent to Thousand Island dressing).
And it isn’t just the burgers that customers are able to customise, a Black & White shake will be a mix of chocolate and vanilla, and Neapolitan will see all three glorious flavours integrated in a single harmonious cup. Shake-tastic!
You can also request the length of cook for your cut in-house fries. Well Done will result in a crispier exterior with a fluffy centre, or on the other end of the spectrum, fries cooked Light will be presented to you limp and almost completely anaemic (not really sure who orders these but it’s possible). For those who dares, ordering Animal Style Fries will get you a basket of fries topped with two slices of melted American cheese, as well as generous amounts of spread and sweet, caramelised grilled onions.
So there you have it, a peek at the numerous ways to order your food when you make your next, or even first visit to In-N-Out. I will mention, the secret menu options listed above are only some of the ways for you to customise your order. There are still plenty of other variations out there for you to discover for yourself, so go forth, and above all happy eating!