To those of us not fortunate enough to live in the six states where it’s available, In-N-Out is merely a legend. To the lucky people who live near one of its 300+ locations, this place is seen as magical and has even been called heaven on earth.

I recently visited California for the first time, and as a self-described foodie, I was majorly hyped to have In-N-Out on the agenda. Clearly if it’s good enough for Adele, it’s good enough for me.

Like any first-timer, I was a little mystified; what was so special about this place? It couldn’t possibly be that good… right?

The time for lunch arrived. We walked into In-N-Out and the first thing to strike me was the huge crowd of people. I stayed strong; as any foodie knows, a place with a line is probably worth waiting for. Next to shock me was the incredibly simple menu.

Because it’s known for its “secret menu,” I was curious. How could they make such awesome things when they only sold like, six items? We placed our order and waited impatiently. After hovering over a table for a while, we were able to get seats. Then, finally, I heard the call: “Order number seventeen, please!”


Photo by Caitlyn Heter

Wow, it was beautiful. The golden fries, the burgers oozing with cheese and sauce… I took my pictures quickly, and dove in.

And… I wasn’t super impressed. It was good, of course. But after all the stories I had heard, maybe my expectations were simply too high.

Some things I really liked about the food: the bun (freshly baked!) was softer and fluffier than those of other fast-food restaurants. The lettuce (hand-leafed!) was fresh and crisp. The “animal style” cheeseburger was tasty, and I did notice afterwards that (unlike my experience at other fast-food places) I wasn’t left feeling sluggish or bloated.

But my mind wasn’t totally blown, as I had hoped it would be. Maybe the crowd influenced my experience, but it seemed that much too quickly the fries got cold, the milkshake lost its thickness, and the burger… well, the burger was just gone too soon, but that’s my own fault and I can’t complain.

As I continued to dip fries in the milkshake, a new crowd of people began to hover over us, waiting for a table vacancy. So, we tossed the rest of the fries and wandered the lovely streets of San Francisco with what remained of the delicious chocolatey milkshake.


Photo courtesy of In-N-Out on Facebook

In short, I found that In-N-Out is a good fast-food restaurant. Nothing less, nothing more. If you find yourself in the area of an In-N-Out for the first time, it’s worth a try just as much as any other place you’ve never been, and if it was available here, I’d probably choose it over many of my local fast-food options. Not all of them though – for this Philly girl, nothing beats a cheesesteak with whiz.

If you’re not expecting to get out West anytime soon, you can make your own In-N-Out fries at home, animal style. Whip up a milkshake to go with it. If you close your eyes and think trendy thoughts, it’ll feel just like the real thing.