How To Order In-N-Out Burger Like a Californian


I was on my flight from New York to Los Angeles when I realized something: I wasn’t nearly as excited about seeing the Hollywood sign or possibly sharing a sidewalk with a celebrity as I was about sinking my teeth into a juicy burger from the one, the only, In-N-Out Burger.

Lucky for me, Damon and Mama Carol (my Indiana Mom) surprised me by picking me up at LAX airport in their rental car, and driving directly to the glorious fast-food chain that makes my heart pound (whether it’s due to the sheer excitement or the excessive artery-clogging caloric intake).

For those of you who are reading that haven’t ever tried In-N-Out, first of all, I’m sincerely sorry for your loss, you’re missing out on one of America’s beautiful treasures. What you need to know about this burger joint is this: what once started in 1948 as a 10×10 drive-thru shack, has now weaved its way into West Coast culture and consequently into many tourists’ itineraries…and boy you’d betta believe it’s at the top of mine. Despite having over 200 locations, In-N-Outs can only be found in four states on the West Coast (California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona) and one state in the South (Texas). This leaves the unlucky Midwesterners and East-coasters lusting for a 3X3 and some animal-style fries.

Wait, what? Never heard of those menu items? Don’t worry; I didn’t know what the hell was going on either. This wasn’t my first time around the block but yet I still needed to think long and hard about what to order to sound like a local.

There are about four items visible on the menu, but the selection extends far beyond the $1.95 cheeseburger (still don’t know if I’m more in love with the food, or the insanely cheap prices).

The secret’s out; If you want to order In-N-Out burger like a Californian, here’s what you do: order from the Not-So-Secret-Menu. This is a menu that used to be a secret because the items aren’t actually listed, but over time, the beans were spilled and the items have made their way into the orders of local Californians or foodies from across the nation that just want to get the best bang for their buck (and taste buds).

Items/orders include the following:

Animal-style – not to be confused with doggy-style.

Picture disco-fries (or poutine if you’re from Canada), but instead of fries covered in cheese and gravy, you have skinny French fries topped with melted cheese, grilled onions, and Thousand Island sauce – can I get a hells yes? The beautiful thing is that you aren’t restricted to “animal style” fries; you can even order your burgers with this added bonus, as well.

Veggie Grilled Cheese – Damon’s main squeeze order

Damon was happy with the veggie options because despite not listing any veg-friendly items, In-N-Out actually does have “a veggie burger animal style” option, which is basically just a creamy grilled cheese with chopped onions with lettuce and tomato. Again, five-star quality for less than five dollars.

Protein-style – for all of those fit beach bums

Now if you wanna get real bougie, you can order your burger “protein style” which means you drop the buns hun and eat a straight-up patty wrapped in lettuce to save your buns the extra carbs. Let’s keep this in perspective though; we’re talking about juicy burgers here. Don’t be one of those people who think they’re actually getting a vegetable serving out of excessive amounts of ketchup, cause ya can’t cheat the system that much.

Meat x Cheese –  get all the juicy meat and cheese you want

Just by hearing it, you’d think you’re cutting a stack of lumber, but if you order this style you’ll really be cutting the blood flow to your heart… no but really, get it boo boo. Because In-N-Out is a progressive establishment, and I mean that, you can up the count on your patties or even your cheese; talk about pro-choice. 2X4 means two patties, four slices of cheese, 2X2 means two and two (also called a “double double”), 3X3 three and three, and the craziest you can order is a 4×4. Let’s not forget that this is In-N-Out burger, not an emergency dispatch call-center. Eat at your own risk

Fries light – for the grease conscious folks

If you’re super picky about the crispiness of your French fry, In-N-Out secretly gives you options on crisp levels. Light refers to a batch of fries that are not fried as long as a regular batch, whereas Well refers to a batch of fries that are the opposite. Save the napkin dab and indulge.

Root beer float & Mixed Shakes – shake what ya momma (Carol) paid for ya

Although I would never recommend anyone to drink root beer, because it tastes like medicine, I’ll let you all in on the secret that you can order a root beer float at In-N-Out. As for other shakes, listed on the menu, you have chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla shakes, but what they don’t tell you is that you can do half-and-half and get a nice Neapolitan shake to your liking. Das right, let’s get some diversity up in that order.

Price Points – let’s not keep the prices secret from you now

In terms of pricing of this secret menu, it’s simple. Inventoried items will have a button on the register, thus increasing your overall total. Modifying your order in terms of “animal-styling” or making your fries light or well will be free of charge, but when it comes to changing meat and cheese quantities no carb or charge left behind. In other words, E (e for exepensive) really does equal MC squared.

Now lemme go get back to my 3X3 animal-style, In-N-Out burger with fries light and a Neapolitan shake on da side. You better know exactly what I’m eating after reading this blog!

Lesson adjourned.

Photo: In-N-Out – Point and Shoot

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