the spot: In-N-Out Burger tested in Austin TX + locations in California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Oregon and soon Idaho
the eats: The “Ali” (unofficial name)
the bucks: approx $6
the full nelson: the ultimate internet burger hack
My first In-N-Out burger experience was . . . underwhelming. Like many, I didn’t get the hype. Being reared in the Midwest off Steak ‘n Shake in the 90s, thin stackable griddled patties were not a new phenomenon to me. I thought the meat was lacking compared to a my go to triple Steakburger from Steak ‘n Shake.
But time marches on. Gold standards falter. And nostalgia evolves as does life. In no small part due to the secret menu and reddit, I have to say that now In-N-Out is my favorite drive thru burger, which in Covid-19 times takes on whole new meaning. But you gotta order it right. Years past I wrote about a number of ways one can navigate the secret menu at In-N-Out. Well now it’s 2020 and I have a new move at In-N-Out. You gotta order “the Ali”.
Yes . . . I have an unofficial named burger at In-N-Out. And when you test drive this triple burger with a double hit of cheese and a bevy of toppings . . . you too will become part of the In-N-Out indoctrinated.
In-N-Out’s best attribute is actually dangerously misleading. Read the menu and you would think the burger maxes out with the above: a double double animal style. While it’s good to keep the focus on burgers, it’s awesome to have options to make your burger customizable.
Enter, the secret menu. After that, you need to focus on personal palate responsibility. Do you crave a big fat messy burger? Add more meat, cheese and toppings. Crave simplicity? Try the cheeseburger with only ketchup, pickle and grilled onions. For the record, that’s the cheeseburger that should be in the Happy Meal.
Me? I like a burger you need two hands to eat. I like ratio of meat to bun to toppings that favors the meat. And I freaking love Thousand Island. Real talk: In-N-Out has the best pink sauce in the game.
This is the “Ali” out of the wrapper. A 3×2 which is three burger patties and two slices of cheese. I got it “Animal style” which means mustard is smeared on the patties while it cooks, lettuce, tomato, pickles, grilled onions and extra spread. But that’s not the whole story.
The Ali with a 90 degree turn will reveal more. I ordered the lettuce “light” and all credit for that is due to reddit. One grievance I have with In-N-Out is not that they use Iceberg lettuce, but that they will include the stem. Yes, that bland fibrous cousin to celery does not need to be on my burger or any burger for that matter.
Also included in here is raw onion, in addition to the grilled onion. This is critical. I’ve said in the past that “the onion is the truffle of the poor“. Folks, onions define the beefy flavor at In-N-Out.
And now, the backside.
In addition to the aforementioned, I also added chopped chilis to my In-N-Out burger. Also a credit to reddit, the addition of In-N-Out’s pickled Cascabella peppers is clutch. I know when life long Los Angelenos were hitting me up declaring “I’ve been doing it wrong my whole life” that I struck a nerve. Cascabella peppers are similar to banana peppers and pepperocinis but I find they pack more heat.
Oh, in case you were wondering, this is the side you want to start with. Take that wrapper off and go to town on the side soaked with all that burger goodness. And for God’s sake, ask for extra napkins.
The same principle for the “Ali” work on the fries too. Yeah, the fries at In-N-Out aren’t great but the animal fries are pretty tasty. That being said, I rarely order them because it’s overkill at it’s finest. I’d like to see my kid grow up.
At the end of the day, this is the burger that has made eat In-N-Out more than ever before. I love burgers with thick patties cooked medium rare and true smashed burgers beat In-N-Out patties all day. I could even make the case that Shake Shack makes a better quality burger.
But In-N-Out is a better burger experience. Cheap, fast and ultimately a reminder that a great hamburger is the sum of its parts. The toppings are just a wee bit more important to the beef. And for the record, this works with 2 or 4 patties though the latter requires the mandibles of a UFC heavyweight.
For those in the know, add this to your In-N-Out repertoire. And for the In-N-Out haters, consider this burger before your next diss. At around $6, you got nothing to lose.