My Vegas vacation didn’t start off well. I had to catch a 6:40pm flight on Thursday, which left me all day to leisurely pack and have a nice lunch before I left for the airport. Of course, things don’t usually go as planned. Long story short, there was a crisis at work, lunch was instant ramen, bag was packed in a mad rush, fight ensued when a hipster cut in front of me to steal my cab, hit major traffic, got to the airport late, and caused an embarrassing scene involving screaming, cursing, and counter-pounding when I was told I had to go stand-by on the next flight to Las Vegas. Sounds bad, but I guess it could have been worse. I think one thing that kept me from completely losing it at JFK was the sudden realization that there might be an In-N-Out Burger in Vegas. Yes, in times of stress I think of food. I looked online while waiting at the gate and voila!; there were three locations in Las Vegas listed on the internet. Score!
As I mentioned here before, I’m not crazy for hamburgers, but I’d been dying to try In-N-Out because of all the hype surrounding their burgers. Living on the east coast my whole life, I’ve always heard about the incredible deliciousness of In-N-Out from friends who traveled to La La Land for vacation. They claimed nothing compared, even Shake Shack. So as soon as I got to my hotel in Vegas, I told David’s sister Jasmine, who I had just awakened from a peaceful slumber, that I had to go to In-N-Out. Forget the fact it was 2am. I was finally within reach of the mythic burger of west coast lore. Jasmine though looked at me sleepily from her bed and laughed politely and went back to sleep. The burger had to wait.
The next day, it seemed no one was up for a burger breakfast so we decided to wait until dinner. After building up our appetites gambling at the Bellagio, and losing quite a bit of money, we headed out to In-N-Out on Tropicana.
At the counter, there was a bit of of confusion because of the In-N-Out lingo. I knew you were supposed to get a cheeseburger “Animal Style” from their secret menu, but when we (me, Jasmine, and her boyfriend Mayank) tried to get a veggie burger, they kept calling it a Grilled Cheese (Yes, I was with two vegetarians in In-N-Out. I don’t discriminate. More burgers for me.). After a bit back and forth, we finally placed the order, and waited patiently for our food.
And then finally, they called our number. We got (pictured above, clockwise from the top left) one Veggie Burger ($1.24), one Grilled Cheese ($1.84), one Cheeseburger (FREE), and one Cheeseburger Animal Style ($1.29). Jasmine and Mayank, collectively the vegetarians, were disappointed to find out the veggie burgers were just burgers without the meat patties. Not very filling if you ask me. C’mon In-N-Out, can’t you guys throw in some soy protein for our vegetarian brethren?!
As for me, I was in luck because they threw in an extra cheeseburger into our order by mistake. And of course, not wanting to let good food go to waste, I ate two cheeseburgers. Hey when fate gives you a free cheeseburger, you eat it. Don’t want to get the meat gods mad at me.
The first thing I noticed about both burgers were that the meat patties were cooked perfectly with some pink in the middle. I love a nice juicy burger. Both were also very crunchy with fresh vegetables. The lettuce is hand leafed at In-N-Out Burger so you get nice whole leaves that you can actually taste. The regular cheeseburger also had pickles, a fat slice of onion, tomato, and spread (the tangy ketchup mayo concoction that most fast food burger joints have). The Animal Style had a slice of tomato, pickles, extra spread, and crunchy grilled onion bits. The Animal was also supposed to be cooked in mustard, but the mustard flavor was very faint as the the spread was overpowering.
We also got the fries which the vegetarians liked. According to the fry sleeve, the potatoes are cut daily at each store. As a result, the fries tasted like real potatoes fried up and salted, not mealy like reconstituted potatoes. Jasmine found them quite addictive and got another order. Although I don’t blame her for being hungry after getting her fake veggie burger.
So did In-N-Out live up to my expectations? Well to be fair to In-N-Out, the Animal Style Cheeseburger was hyped to such epic proportions in my head, I don’t think any burger could have met my expectations. That said, I love In-N-Out, and if there was one in New York, I’d probably eat more burgers. As for the vegetarian burgers, those can stay behind on the west coast.