This was my fourth visit to In n Out Burgers, the second on this trip to Las Vegas alone. I am on the quest for the world's best burger, and In n Out has been in the running since my first visit. My buddy, a career McDonald's manager had recommended it, and I had wondered what a McDonald's manager could possibly know about good hamburgers. Great Egg McMuffins, maybe, but hamburgers? Boy, was I wrong. Sorry I ever doubted you, Victor.
In n Out has been around since 1948. I imagine that Harry and Esther Snyder started out across the street from brothers Dick and Mac McDonald in California, although that's just the way it plays out in my mind. McDonald's started out in California in the late forties as well. The McDonalds sold out to Ray Kroc, a milkshake machine salesman, who sold the heart and soul of the great American hamburger in a frenzy of rapid growth, while In n Out stayed true to their passion - burgers, fries and a beverage. That's the whole menu. No freezers, no microwaves, no heat lamps. Great burgers, great service, good old American fast food. Burger, fry and soda pop for under $5 in only three states - Nevada, California, and Arizona. No franchises. The Snyder family still owns every store (200 of them +/-).
Great - the burger. Grilled on a flat top. A zillion variations, but only if you're in the know. Apparently there is a "secret" menu, but for the rest of us there is nothing on the menu except three combos using the same great burger with or without cheese, single or double. Fresh lettuce, onions and tomatoes garnish a toasted bun. Some sort of thousand island type dressing. The fries are matchstick cut, fresh - the kid was slamming potatoes through the slicer into the water filled sink while I watched!
Good - dining room cleanliness can get a little bit behind, but they were slammed and they were running out there trying to keep up, but the people just kept coming in right until closing time at 1:00 a.m.! The staff was exhausted but pumped and on their game right to the end. I haven't seen it that busy in a Canadian fast food restaurant in more than 20 years, but that's how it used to be at McDonald's in my little town.
Room to Grow? Forty-seven states and ten provinces, but let's hope not. They'd have to sell out to do that; they'd have to compromise. I hate the way Tim Hortons in Canada has sacrificed quality for growth and now sells warmed up frozen doughnuts and crappy coffee in more locations than Tim himself every dreamed possible. No, I'll stick to finding an In n Out on my occasional visits to the west.
The Only Comment Card Question that Really Matters: would I come back? Heck, I bought the t-shirt! I can't wait to get back.