In-N-Out ★★★★

Oct 2, 2011

I remember my very first time eating at In-N-Out. After moving to the Bay Area in mid-2008, I had heard about the place from newly-found friends and decided to go for a visit. Initially it seemed to me like any other fast food restaurant, but I quickly realized the difference. The restaurant was clean and the employees were extremely friendly.

When you make your way up to the counter, you’re presented with a simplistic menu. There are only three combo meals (which contain fries and a drink):

  1. DoubleDouble “Double Meat & Double Cheese”
  2. Cheeseburger
  3. Hamburger

Their full menu includes those three burger types, fries, shakes, sodas, milk, and coffee. No other items are shown. No toppings are displayed. A normal In-N-Out Cheeseburger contains beef, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and their signature spread on a toasted bun. There’s a huge advantage to having a small, concise menu: less time deciding. When you are presented with fewer options, a decision can be made very quickly, which helps the line move along and prevents people from scratching their chins.

By now, you’ve probably heard of the famed Secret Menu. In all honesty, it’s not secret, but it’s not displayed in the restaurant for the reasons above. It doesn’t contain any new main items like chicken or onion rings, but it does include some favorites like grilled onions, and hot yellow chili peppers. Burger sizes can become 3×3 or 4×4 (meat x cheese) if you so desire. You’re also free to get fries or any burger “Animal Style.” For burgers, this means a mustard-grilled beef patty, extra spread and grilled onions. For fries, it means melted cheese, grilled onions and famous In-N-Out spread.

A Double-Double with fries and a drink comes to $5 before tax.

The In-N-Out DoubleDouble. Whole grilled onion and pickles added.

When your order is called, your meal will be in a taller-than-usual single-serving red tray. Burgers are wrapped in paper and fries are in a paper basket, both ready to eat immediately. A few bites in and you’ll surely be enjoying your double cheeseburger. The cheese is perfectly melted, the lettuce is crisp, and the two tomatoes and beef are juicy. These ingredients are arranged in the perfect proportion to each other. The burger is bright, colorful, and delicious. The spread, though I can appreciate it, is not something I want every time (I prefer ketchup).

The french fries are decent. They cut the potatoes in the store (you can see them). Obviously fresh, but they’re not amazing. They lack seasoning of any sort which make them pretty standard fries.

In-N-Out has the best value I’ve ever seen. At less than $3, their DoubleDouble is the cheapest and most delicious burger for that price. Other joints charge roughly twice the amount for a double cheeseburger. Frankly, I’d rather have two DoubleDoubles.

There’s something unique about the taste of In-N-Out Burger that brings me back again and again. Though the only San Francisco city location is in Fisherman’s Wharf, it’s worth wading through tourists to get to it.

Tip: Get a “whole grilled onion,” pickles, and chili peppers added to your burger.


  • delicious and pretty burger
  • easy-to-understand menu
  • incredibly cheap
  • great service


  • no bacon

In-N-Out ★★★★