I think that I’ve mentioned before that I travel a bit as part of my job. When I tell people this, they almost always say something along the lines of, “Oh, that sounds like so much fun!” Well, to be honest, after a few years of trying to make an overstuffed suitcase fit in an overhead bin and eating one too many mini crab cakes at cocktail receptions, I don’t really enjoy it all that much. My sleep, exercise and eating routines get all thrown off and I inevitably end up feeling tired, frumpy, ugly, and old. *Cue the sad violin music.*
I spent most of last week in Southern California, where all of the women are tall, skinny, well-dressed and gorgeous. Granted, most of them are also Botoxed and spray-tanned beyond belief, but, by the end of the week, I was feeling pretty sorry for myself. I took to Twitter to elicit sympathy from my friends and received two bits of excellent advice: 1) to eat my feelings (thank you, Shannon) and 2) In-and-Out Burger solves everything (thank you, Jeff). You can guess what my next stop was.
Now, I have been to California quite a few times, but have never been to an In-and-Out burger until this most recent trip. If you don’t know, In-and-Out started on the West Coast in the 1940s (most of the locations are still in California, although there are also a few in Arizona, Nevada, Texas, and Utah), that serves a basic menu of made-to-order burgers, fries, and shakes. Then, there’s the “Not-So-Secret Menu,” that let’s you create your own variations.
First, you choose the number of patties and slices of cheese that you want. So, you could have a 3×3 (three patties, three slices of cheese) a 2×4 (two patties, four slices of cheese), etc., as long as you don’t exceed 4×4. Then, you decide if you want your burger “protein style” (wrapped in a lettuce leaf instead of a bun) or “animal style” (the patty is cooked in mustard, and served with extra pickles, grilled onions, and tomato-mayo spread). The latter is the way to go, if you ask me, because you get a little bit of extra crunch and flavor in each bite. You can even order your fries to your specifications: “well” if you want them cooked longer so that they turn out crispier, “light” if you want them softer, or with the “animal style” burger toppings. But, they were pretty perfect just dipped in ketchup.
The only disappointment was the milkshake. The mix comes out of a big industrial-looking container (I saw them filling up the machine) and tasted just like a thicker version of what you would get at McDonald’s. In other words, it’s nothing special.
As far as fast-food burger places go, I don’t think I would rank In-and-Out above Five Guys or Shake Shack, but there is something magical about it. Almost as soon as I got back to my hotel, I slipped into a grease-induced coma and woke up the next day ready to face the last couple of days of chatting with alumni and braving the insane traffic in LA. Jeff was right (I know he loves to see this phrase in print): those burgers and fries really are the cure all.
On all future California trips, I will need to build time into my schedule to go there as soon as I leave the airport. I’m pretty sure that a stop at the beginning of a trip would really go a long way in helping me maintain a positive attitude.
Now, when can we get a branch in Philly?