It's odd to say this, but I've had a love-hate relationship with In-N-Out Burger. The first time I had one was at the Bairstow Outlets in California, and I remember it being a d*mn tasty burger worthy of its hype. Was it the greatest burger ever? No. Was it one of the best fast food burgers I've had? Certainly in the running.
That was all the way back in 2000.
Many many visits followed but I could never recreate that same burger. A visit to Vegas or SoCal required a stop-in since we always had folks who'd never been to In-N-Out before. I'd all but given up honestly. The last few visits, I wouldn't even order anything. I'd just watch them eat, and go somewhere else after. I had convinced myself that first time was a delusion from the 35° Celcius heat.
Then I discovered the FULL secret menu.
If you've never heard of In-N-Out's secret menu, stop reading now and go to Serious Eats and read their article. Go on. Click. It'll open a new window so I'll be waiting here for ya.
Of course I knew about animal-style and the multiples (I do live in Tim Horton's land after all), but I never knew about the fries and the onions... or so I thought. I LOOOOOOOOOVE onions. Especially deep-fried breaded onion rings. But ESPECIALLY deep-fried onion strings. BUT EVEN MORE ESPECIALLY sauteed onions. And you probably know about my thing with caramelized onions by now. If not, click here, and head down to the last part of the post. Go on. I'll wait.
Welcome back :-)
Once I read about requesting whole grilled onions, I knew what I had to order. It also helped that we went to a location in Henderson, away from the insanely busy Strip locations. Once I got my order and took my first bite - it finally happened. I remembered EVERYTHING that happened 10 years ago.
I remember asking if the burger came with onions - and the clerk said it was optional. Then proceeded to ask if I wanted it grilled or not. THEN asked me if I wanted chopped or whole. I remember witnessing possibly the most perfect fast food ordering experience of my life. Not only was the clerk willing to make my order, he was taking another step further by suggesting more options??? Dear. God. Almighty. He might as well have asked to touch me inappropriately - I would've said yes.
Funnier story is how people tend to follow me places. When we walked in, it was dead. I walked up to the counter, ordered and grabbed a table. A few minutes later, my friends walked up (Anton and Barry had never been before) and proceeded to have a chat with the clerk about the secret menu and all its different gloriously wayward options. Love. It.
After they ordered - suddenly there were 10 people in line behind them, and more coming in by the second. Seriously - really funny. This happens to me ALL THE TIME: banks, 7-11, movie theatres. Totally dead. Then BAM! It's a party. What can I say? People know I bring it.
Back on track: the traditional order for In-N-Out virgins is a double-double animal-style. That means 2 fresh hand-formed patties, 2 slices of American cheese - then animal-style adds a splatter of thousand island dressing with diced grilled onions.
Followed up with an order of freshly hand-cut fries, animal style. This is where I definitely prefer poutine. The fries, as ordered, are not my thing. Too starchy and not crispy enough. I prefer "well done" where they double-fry the fries (bistro-style). Also, the cheese blocks the dressing from mixing with the fries, which also congeals so you now have this hardened neon yellow clump... pass.
I'm deliriously happy that my In-N-Out journey finally came full-circle. I feel like I can move on... to other menu options... mmmm mustard-grilled. There are 2 In-N-Outs within walking distance of the Strip, but they're always packed beyond all comprehension (and a limo or 2 in the parking lot). If you can, rent a car, visit Hoover Dam and hit up the In-N-Out on 1051 West Sunset in Henderson, off exit 64 on I-515. The service is fantastic, and there's plenty of parking. Plus a Costco to boot!