Another View of the Fabulously Popular In-N-Out Burger

If you like fast food hamburgers, and for Californians in particular, the absolute favorite spot to go to is In-N-Out Burger.

Started in 1948 in Baldwin Park, just outside of Los Angeles, California, In-N-Out Burger was focused only in California for years.  But, since 2000 they have expanded to Texas, Arizona, Oregon, Colorado, Nevada and Utah.

Several things stand out about this restaurant, and this company.

  • They have never and don’t plan to franchise, go public or sell the company. They believe that their current MO ensures continued high quality of their product.
  • Over the last 74 years it has been owned and run by one family, and it still is.
  • It was the first drive-thru hamburger stand in California.
  • They are known for having a “secret menu” which does not appear on their menu, but you can order. Two of the most well-known of these are their Protein Style burgers and their Animal Style burgers.
  • It has received glowing reviews from very well-known chefs and food critics including among others Anthony Bourdain and Julia Child.
  • In 2021 it got itself into some hot political waters by becoming a rallying point for anti-mandate demonstrations over Covid vaccination requirements in California.
  • If you like hamburgers, apparently this is the place to go – bar none.

The other night I decided to go to a nearby In-N-Out Burger establishment.  I was famished.  But I also wanted to find out if they had anything for people who do not eat meat.  As you may know, I am a pescatarian.

I walked up to the counter and asked what do you have for people that don’t eat meat.  Fyi, their posted menus show nothing for non meat eaters.  The young man at the counter hesitated for a minute but then said yes, they have a veggie burger.  And, he added, they have a grilled cheese sandwich.

Well, “that sounds great,” I said.  “Wonderful!  I will have one of each and some fries and a chocolate milk shake.”   I say to myself, if I am going to break my diet tonight, I am going to really break it!

My number was 29.  I waited patiently for my order to be called so that I could gorge myself in this place that everyone loves.

The lines going into In-N-Out Burger restaurants are unbelievably long.  Both the drive thru lines and the lines for food inside the restaurant.  Tonight every parking spot at the In-N-Out Burger was taken.  The line for the drive thru extended way into the public street.  The line for the people wanting to order inside the restaurant extended outside the door and around half of the building itself.  Every table inside the restaurant was taken. Amazing.

“Order number 29!”  A loud voice yells from behind the counter.  That’s me.  I head up to the counter and pick up my tray.  I look around and luckily I find a small two person table to sit at, anxiously wanting to devour my food.

Pretty disappointed would be a nice way of saying how I felt after I opened my two non-meat items.

First, the veggie burger was a piece of lettuce and a slice of tomato on a hamburger bun.  They also add a little “sauce” which is a version of thousand island dressing.  Yes, you heard that correctly.  That was it!  nothing more.

I was expecting a burger made out of non meat.  But, no.  no such thing.  There was no burger.  It was just lettuce and tomato on a bun.  Holy cow!   This just floored me.  I could not believe it.

I was so flummoxed that I got up from my table to go over to the counter.  I get the attention of one of the staff, and I ask him what the veggie burger is supposed to have in it.  He says lettuce and tomato.  I cannot believe it.

The other item I ordered was the grilled cheese sandwich.  Now, many of you who read my blog know that a grilled cheese sandwich is something that I am very passionate about and very particular about.  This fascination with grilled cheese sandwiches began a year ago when I was home alone, quarantined with Covid, trying to learn how to make a great grilled cheese sandwich.  Many of my readers sent in their suggestions.

Bottom line, I know something about grilled cheese sandwiches.  Well, the grilled cheese sandwich that In-N-Out Burger makes is by far the worst grilled cheese sandwich I have ever had, bar none.

Similar to the veggie burger the grilled cheese sandwich is pathetic.  A hamburger bun with some melted cheese on one side, with a piece of lettuce and a slice of tomato on the other bun.  Here, again, they also add some “sauce” which is a version of thousand island dressing.  It was awful.  Really bad.

So, what to do?   Here you have apparently the best burger fast food restaurant there is.  Unbelievably popular with tons of people.   And, yet, their offerings to non-meat eaters are pathetic.  Really bad.  Not just OK, really terrible.

How does that square?   How is that possible that a great restaurant can do so poorly on a couple of items?

My suggestion for In-N-Out Burger… take the two items – grilled cheese sandwich and veggie burger – off the “secret” menu.  Do not offer them.  Do not make them.  Stick with red meat.  Stick with hamburgers.




4 thoughts on “Another View of the Fabulously Popular In-N-Out Burger”

  1. In and Out serves burgers and fries basically. You ordered and received their versions of a veggie burger and a grilled cheese. It’s your expectations and preconceived assumptions of what to expect letting you down. When in reality they delivered what you ordered. A slice of fresh onion and some pickles may have made them better. Just a thought to ponder.

  2. When in Rome……
    The veggi hamburger was actually pretty funny, in keeping with their mask views.
    Merry Christmas anyway, Scrooge.

  3. Neil, it’s a “burger” joint. I like their burgers fries and milkshakes even though they are not stellar like Johnny Rockets was. But fast food burger joints are only good at that. I went to 3 Rolling Stones concerts and they too were packed with fans, just like In& Out is constantly packed with burger fans. I would not have requested Mick Jagger to belt out an aria from La Boheme. He probably would have tried but the result might be the same as your experience at I&O. Personally when I do not want a burger I go for the McDonald’s filet o fish. Probably a pescatarian staple.

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