I’m a food reporter who went to In-N-Out for the first time and it was the best fast-food burger I’ve ever eaten

The author side by side a double double burger from in n out
I recently went to In-N-Out for the first time and realized why it’s such a popular fast-food chain. Erin McDowell/Insider
  • I recently traveled to Austin, Texas, to visit a number of fast-food chains I’ve never tried before.
  • I ordered a Double-Double burger “animal style,” fries, and a chocolate shake at In-N-Out.
  • I thought the juicy, flavorful burger was the best fast-food burger I’ve ever eaten.

When I arrived in Austin, Texas, one of the first places I planned to visit was In-N-Out Burger.
In n out burger sign
The exterior of In-N-Out in Austin, Texas. Erin McDowell/Insider
The closest In-N-Out was a short drive away from my hotel in south Austin. After hopping in an Uber, I soon pulled up to the restaurant and saw the iconic yellow-and-red logo on the white building.

As a food reporter, I’ve tried a lot of fast-food items, from double cheeseburgers at practically every chain to newer items like the Megan Thee Stallion “Hottie” chicken sandwich from Popeyes.

However, as a native East Coaster, I’ve never been to In-N-Out before.

In-N-Out became California’s first drive-thru hamburger stand when it opened in 1948.
In n out burger
The exterior of In-N-Out in Austin, Texas. Erin McDowell/Getty Images
In 1958, In-N-Out replaced its bottled drinks with fountain service, offering customers beverages like Pepsi Cola, Nesbitt Orange, and Hires Root Beer. According to In-N-Out, a 12-ounce soda cost just 10 cents ($0.14) at the time.

In 1961, In-N-Out added “animal style” burgers to its menu as a response to overwhelming customer requests. The recipe is still the same today as it was in the 1960s: a mustard-cooked beef patty, lettuce, tomato, pickles, extra spread, and grilled onions.

In 1963, In-N-Out began serving its famous Double-Double burger. A few years later, In-N-Out opened its first location with a dining room in Ontario, California.

While some new items have been added since 1948, the menu is still pretty similar to the original menu, offering basic fast-food items like burgers and fries.

Walking through the double doors to the In-N-Out, I could barely contain my excitement.
In n out burger interior
Inside the In-N-Out restaurant. Erin McDowell/Getty Images
In-N-Out’s restaurant design is relatively simple, with a seemingly vintage-inspired theme of red and white. I also immediately noticed the palm tree motif on the tiled cash register, which pays homage to the chain’s California roots. 

A friendly employee took my order at the counter and handed me my receipt, which had my order number on it.

A cheery neon sign proclaimed In-N-Out’s motto: “Quality you can taste.”
In n out burger interior
A neon sign inside the In-N-Out restaurant. Erin McDowell/Getty Images
While I waited for my food, I decided to have a look around the dining room.
Plants and diner-esque booths made the dining room feel bright and approachable.
In n out burger interior
Inside the In-N-Out restaurant. Erin McDowell/Getty Images
Americana artwork on the wall made me feel like I had stepped back to the 1950s.
The beverage station is self-serve, but they had implemented a touchless system to make it more sanitary during the pandemic.
In n out burger beverage station
The beverage station at In-N-Out. Erin McDowell/Getty Images
I poured myself my go-to drink, Diet Coke, and stood back to wait for my food.

After a few minutes, an employee called out my order number.

A sign near the ketchup station drove home In-N-Out’s service model.
In n out burger interior
Inside the In-N-Out restaurant. Erin McDowell/Getty Images
According to the sign, guests can request everything from sweeteners and ketchup to lemons and chilies.
As I sat down at a counter by the window, I noticed that even the wallpaper was printed with palm trees.
In n out restaurant wallpaper
The wallpaper inside the In-N-Out restaurant. Erin McDowell/Insider
It was a quaint touch that made the restaurant feel just a little bit more inviting. 
I had ordered a Double-Double burger “animal style,” fries, a soft drink, and a small chocolate shake.
In n out burger meal
My meal from In-N-Out. Erin McDowell/Insider
In my opinion, no In-N-Out menu item is as iconic as the chain’s Double-Double burger, so I knew I had to give it a try.

Although I’ve heard mixed reviews on the chain’s plain fries, I decided to order them on their own rather than “animal style” or with cheese, since I ordered the burger animal style.

My entire meal came to just $US11.80 ($AU16), including tax, which I thought was a fair price considering how much food I received.

I couldn’t wait to dive into the Double-Double burger. The first thing I noticed was the layer of cheese coating each part of the massive burger.
In n out double double animal style burger
A Double-Double burger animal-style from In-N-Out burger. Erin McDowell/Insider
The Double-Double usually comes with two beef patties, two slices of American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions, and spread. If you order your burger animal style, the beef patties will be cooked in mustard and come with all the aforementioned toppings, plus pickles and extra spread, and the onions will be grilled.
Tangy mustard, pickles, and onions hit my tongue – I was blown away by the burger immediately.
In n out double double animal style burger
A Double-Double burger animal-style from In-N-Out burger. Erin McDowell/Insider
The pickles were tart and crunchy, the beef patties were over-the-top juicy and flavorful, and the cheese-to-meat ratio was perfect. The onions came through and added a lot of flavor and I really liked the spread. It was super savory and unlike any other sauce I’ve had on a fast-food burger before.

The burger itself was also very large, and all the ingredients tasted fresh. The cheese was flavorful and thick — it was totally different from cheese I’ve had on other fast-food burgers.

Not only was this probably the best fast-food burger I’ve ever had, but it was also up there for one of the best burgers that I’ve ever eaten in general.
In n out double double animal style burger
A Double-Double burger animal-style from In-N-Out burger. Erin McDowell/Insider
If I were to come back to In-N-Out, I would definitely order this burger again. Plus, for only $US4.50 ($AU6), it certainly didn’t break the bank.
After eating my entire burger – I simply couldn’t put it down – I tried the fries.
In n out fries
In-N-Out fries. Erin McDowell/Insider
Despite having a smaller-than-average menu for a fast-food joint, In-N-Out gives customers a couple of different ways to order their classic fries. You can get them regular, which is what I ordered, well-done, with cheese, or animal style.
In-N-Out doesn’t offer a wide range of dipping sauces, like other chains. I ate mine with ketchup.
In n out fries dipped in ketchup
In-N-Out fries dipped in ketchup. Erin McDowell/Insider
The fries were a tad underwhelming, in my opinion. They were crispy but could have used a touch more salt. The inside was not fluffy at all, which I thought gave them an odd texture. Next time, I’d probably order them as cheese fries or animal style to give them more flavor.

I did, however, think the number of fries I received was generous, especially as they only cost $US2 ($AU3). 

The chocolate shake was really creamy, but it wasn’t so thick that it couldn’t be consumed through a straw.
In n out chocolate shake
A chocolate shake from In-N-Out. Erin McDowell/Insider
It wasn’t overly rich and paired perfectly with my meal. It was also pretty inexpensive at $US2 ($AU3).55. However, I was also glad that I ordered a soft drink on the side — I needed something to wash down all the food I was consuming.
I thoroughly enjoyed my first ever In-N-Out meal, although I didn’t eat all of the fries.
In n out burger meal eaten
My finished meal from In-N-Out. Erin McDowell/Insider
For under $US12 ($AU16), I thought the meal was balanced, delicious, and totally deserving of all the hype.
I can’t wait for my next trip out West and the opportunity to eat at In-N-Out again.
The author standing out in n out
Me outside the In-N-Out restaurant. Erin McDowell/Getty Images
Everything I ordered was impressive. Even the fries, which I thought were just OK, weren’t terrible by any means and the serving size was very generous. However, what truly stood out to me was the burger.

It was by far the best fast-food burger I’ve ever eaten. It was large, delicious, and inexpensive. Truly, what more could you ask for?