Wednesday, March 4, 2009

In-N-Out Revelation

For years I've made In-N-Out #117 one of my last stops in LA (and sometimes my first) before getting on a plane at LAX. The Westchester store is located at the end of a runway adjacent to a park that offers awesome planespotting. It's a great spot to enjoy a Double-Double while the belly of a 747 roars overhead only 4 seconds from touching down. As is custom, I raced to the airport yesterday leaving just enough time to hit the In-N-Out. But this visit was like no other. On this visit I had a hamburger revelation.

My usual order at In-N-Out consists of a Double-Double no tomatoes, fries, and a chocolate shake. For some reason I've never strayed from the printed menu into the cultish and much talked about 'secret' menu. Yesterday was the day.

For the first time ever, I ordered a burger off of the secret menu (I have however ordered the Fries Animal Style before). That's right, yours truly had never consumed the fabled 'Double-Double Animal Style' and I can safely say that I will never go back to the standard menu again. I have seen the light.

Why had I never tried this burger? The name implies something unruly or a surefire recipe for a stomach ache. Truth is, the Animal Style burger is none of this. The cult favorite is perfect and totally manageable. To a standard Double-Double add grilled, chopped onions, extra 1000 Island dressing, and pickles. You heard correctly, pickles, onions, and extra sauce, that's it, but these small additions create a huge taste explosion. I had heard a rumor once that the burger is also cooked in mustard and after a quick call to the In-N-Out hotline found it to be true. "The patty is spread with mustard as it cooks on the griddle," a very friendly In-N-Out associate told me. Now I know.

I've also discovered something else from the secret menu that has replaced my standard chocolate shake - the Neapolitan shake. Ask for one and you'll get all three flavors (vanilla, choc, strawberry) swirled, not mixed, together.

The rules have been re-written. The Animal Style burger and a Neopolitan shake will be my default at In-N-Out from now on. I almost went back to get one for the plane but realized that it would never taste the same as my first, sitting at the end of the runway. I'll have to wait until my next trip to LA.