I Went To In-N-Out Burger And Found It To Be Overrated

In n out burger sign josh barroJosh Barro/Business InsiderThe author stands outside the In-N-Out Burger location at 4444 Van Nuys Boulevard in the Sherman Oaks section of Los Angeles, California, on January 28, 2014.

You may have noticed that people who used to live in California won’t shut up about how much they miss In-N-Out Burger.

Since I’m in Los Angeles for a few days, I thought I’d take the opportunity to refresh my recollection that In-N-Out is severely overrated.

Here’s what I found: Burgers from In-N-Out are good. They’re much better than McDonald’s. They’re not as good as what you can get at Shake Shack or even Five Guys Burgers & Fries. And In-N-Out’s fries are simply subpar.

Today I got a #1 meal, which is a double cheeseburger with fries and a drink. I’ll give In-N-Out one thing: It’s cheap. My meal cost $US6.98, which is about half what I’d spend for similar items at Five Guys in New York.

And the burger was… fine. It tasted like its ingredients: beef, American cheese, tomato, pickles and Thousand Island dressing. It actually had too much cheese on it. It lacked the depth of flavour that a Five Guys burger has. And it didn’t come with bacon.

The burger came in a wrapper that brags about what’s inside. This is a sure sign of insecurity about product quality. “We hand-leaf our lettuce every day,” the wrapper announced. Good for you? I don’t know why I should care that the lettuce is leafed by hand.

While the burger was decent, the fries were just kind of sad. In-N-Out makes a big deal about its fries: the potatoes are hand cut and never frozen. The fries did taste very potatoey, but they didn’t have the texture french fries should have: crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. They were just fried sticks of hand-cut russet potato. They weren’t craveable. And they didn’t come with enough salt.

I got this far and then I stopped eating. This meal is almost 1100 calories if you eat the whole thing, and being in Los Angeles already makes me feel fat; about half was enough for me.

This analysis leaves only one real argument for In-N-Out: That it’s a value proposition because it’s so much cheaper than Five Guys. But a double cheeseburger is already a splurge from a calorie standpoint, regardless of price. To paraphrase an old Johnnie Walker ad campaign, if the difference in price between In-N-Out and Five Guys matters to you, you’re eating too much.

Oh, I actually have to give In-N-Out props for one thing, besides price: They expressly prohibit e-cigarette smoking inside their restaurants, which helps to cut down on the douche factor.

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