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  • Writer's pictureKristi Dao

Hot Take: In-N-Out is Overrated

My fiancee is currently on his way home from San Francisco, a work trip that I wasn't able to attend with him this time. This does make me think of the last time I got to go though, and the prominent thought I have is that In-N-Out is overrated.

I feel like that is a very unpopular opinion. As someone from the East Coast, the West Coast seems to love to brag about having In-N-Out as a food chain. Maybe you can blame it on one bad experience, but I actually gave In-N-Out a second chance. I was underwhelmed both times, and I'm here to recommend a better experience that I had during my time in San Francisco.

A selfie of me on the left, smiling at the camera with transparent purple glasses on, with the water and a bridge to the right.
Selfie I took near a bridge! It isn't the Golden Gate Bridge, but I still thought it was beautiful to be on the water.


In-N-Out in Las Vegas

You would think that the first time I had In-N-Out would have been the best time based on the situation. I had spent all day flying, I hadn't eaten much of anything, and it was a late-night visit. You would think that I had rose-colored glasses on in the face of my hunger, ready to appreciate whatever I ate.

By the fact that you made it this far, you already know I didn't. I ordered a burger and fries animal style (because I had read that was how it was done). I can't say that I was impressed. My burger tasted like an average burger, which I could probably get from any fast-food chain. It didn't really move the needle either way for me, and then I had the fries.

The French fries were probably what ruined this meal for me, as they were truly soggy. I love potatoes, and could find a reason to appreciate them in whatever form, from baked to fried to mashed. So believe me when I say that if you ruin my potatoes, you have probably ruined my meal. This is probably the reason I was deterred from wanting In-N-Out again.

From left to right: a mini Piglet Squish mellow sitting next to my bag of In-N-Out, a tiny container of ketchup, and my drink in a branded cup.
This is my sack from In-N-Out to prove that I was actually here trying things.

In-N-Out San Francisco

When I was in San Francisco, I decided to stop by In-N-Out because it was near Ghiradelli Square. There aren't many cheap places to eat in a city like San Francisco, and I wanted a burger. I was hoping that maybe my first time was a fluke.

It was not a fluke. I kept it simple this time with a classic cheeseburger meal, with extra spread sauce on the side (I saw a family in front of me ask about it, so I did the same). The burger is not that impressive. The one good thing I can say about it is that they put a full slice of onion on the burger instead of just a few rings. Do they really get credit for not skimping on ingredients, though?

The real test was the French fries, at least for me. While some people enjoy a thin and crispy French fry, the struggle with my French fries from In-N-Out (this time) is that they tasted stale. That isn't because I forgot to salt them or anything. They reminded me of canned potato sticks that I buy from the store in a can, and those sticks would taste the same as my French fries if I had opened the can and let them sit like that for a whole day.

A basket of French fries, next to a Burger, with a drink and ketchup container off to the side.
Now that I am looking back at it, I don't see the patty... It was there, I am just now questioning the ratio I paid for looking at this image.

My San Francisco Preference?

The debate is typically Shake Shack or In-N-Out, but I'm here to tell you that the West Coast should endorse Super Duper Burger. I don't know if it is a West Coast thing or something just in San Francisco, but I found it on my first day in town and it was everything I wanted from In-N-Out.

There were two locations around the corner from my hotel, and I almost didn't go in because the Poke bowl place next door caught my attention. What made me go into Super Duper Burger was the advertisement for soft serve out front (I am a sucker for ice cream).

So I went in and ordered a mini burger with onions and garlic French fries. Let me tell you that it was so juicy and flavorful that I was impressed that it was a fast-food burger. I had no complaints about the juiciness dripping onto my lap, even after I noticed I was wearing white.

The same could be said about the French fries, because I have never had a fast food joint do garlic fries like that. The ones in the middle under the toppings were a little soggy by the time I got to them, but the ones at the edges were perfectly crispy and seasoned. Potatoes aren't hard to do, but these were exactly what I wanted from my French fries that day.

Maybe it's not fair for me to get into my soft-serve ice cream since I didn't get dessert at In-N-Out, but I don't normally have a dipped cone. I feel like I have to say that I did it here because they had kid's cones, and it was very much worth not getting a poke bowl. It was the perfect way to finish my meal. The vanilla ice cream had the perfect flavor, and the dipped coating complimented it instead of overpowering it.

I'm not really a pickle person, but I also feel the need to say that Super Duper Burger has homemade pickles that were spicy. I tried one just to try one, and it brought a little heat. It might have complimented my burger nicely if I was into that kind of thing, but I am putting this tip here in case you might be interested to know.

A mini soft serve ice cream dipped in chocolate with a bite taken out of it.
I was too hungry to take a picture of my food, but I remembered to take a photo of the kiddie cone I took a bite out of.

And that is how I feel about In-N-Out. Do you think there are better fast food offerings on the West Coast? Or are my tastebuds out of wack, and In-N-Out truly is a fast food haven? Or is fast food the wrong way to get a burger, and we should have it served up in a sit-down style restaurant, kind of like The Menu? I would love to have this discussion in the comments below.

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