Do you have that favorite restaurant where you can just close your eyes and imagine taking that gratifying first bite?
Where any resemblance of that eatery’s scent leaves your stomach grumbling and yearning for more?
Are you hungry yet?
I know I am.
For me, that restaurant is the west coast born and raised chain In-N-Out Burger.

Never heard of In-N-Out burger? 
If so, first my apologies for having never experienced the greatest burger on the planet.  One reason why you may not have tried it before is that unfortunately they are only available in 5 states (California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah and Texas).
I say “unfortunately” because I currently reside in Illinois and most days of the year consist of me wallowing in my own self misery of not being able to enjoy a tasty Double-Double at my leisure.
Just in case you don’t know, the Double-Double is their version of McDonald’s Big Mac only 1,000 times better.
Scratch that. 1,000,000  times better.  Yes, it’s that good.

Luckily, my mom retired and relocated to Las Vegas and  bought a home approximately 7 miles from an In-N-Out Burger. So I have been making sure to use my airline rewards credit card as much as possible so I can go visit in and out oops my mom more often.

As you can imagine, my first stop after leaving the airport is not my mom’s house or some silly casino.  Oh no.  It’s In-N-Out time!

Double-Double with cheese + fries +chocolate shake = absolute bliss.   There isn’t a meal that I could pick to replace that.  Well, maybe add another cheeseburger. It’s good for breakfast, lunch, dinner, brunch, late night snack or even dessert.  In-N-Out is the only meal that will make me cry twice.  Once, after I take my first bite because it’s so delicious.  I also shed a tear at the last bite, because I don’t know when the next bite will be.

In-N-Out is not your typical fast food restaurant that the meat patties taste like microwaved cardboard.  Their patties free of additives, fillers and preservatives of any kind.  But it’s just not the meat.  The lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese are all fresh, too.  I almost forgot the fries!  Where most fries come straight out of a bag, In-N-Out cuts their fries at the store one potato at a time.

Have you noticed how most fast food chains change their menu on a consistent basis?  You can order anything from chicken tenders, snack wraps, breakfast burritos and now caramel lattes.  In-N-Out has stuck to their guns and kept the same menu that has led to its continued success: burger, fries, and a drink.

In-N-Out doesn’t need to run advertising to build its fan base.  Word of mouth advertising from its cult fans (people like me) has grown the In-N-Out name into the behemoth that it is today.  When the chain opened a new location in Arizona, there was a four hour wait to get their mouth on the prize.
In-N-Out has also made the prime time. It’s made appearances in such flicks as Swinger and The Big Lebowski and TV shows Arrested Development and The Simpsons.   Stars such as Angela Jolie, Beyonce’, Paris Hilton and Tom Hanks have openly shared their infatuation with the burger joint.  When the New York Giants were in town for Super Bowl XLII, coach Tom Coughlin ordered In-N-Out for lunch for the entire team. Now that’s one cool coach!
They Have a (Not So) Secret Menu
I have enjoyed In-N-Out for most of my life so I’m kind of embarrassed to admit this.  It wasn’t until a couple years ago that I finally discovered that the chain has a secret menu. What!   Who ever heard of a fast food chain having a secret menu?   As the popularity of the “secret menu” grew, In-N-Out finally confessed and put the secret menu on their website seen here:

The most popular of the secret menu is ordering your burger “Animal Style” where the burger is cooked in mustard, extra “secret sauce” is added, with pickles and grilled onions.  Although they confessed their secret menu on their site, they still didn’t tell the whole truth.  Fact is the secret menu has many more secrets.

For example, the menu shows you can order a 4 x 4 (4 meat patties and 4 slices of cheese), but you can also order a 2 x 4 (2 meat patties and 4 slices of cheese).
In fact you can order almost any combination that your little heart desires.  Up until 2004 there was no limit.   In fact, one die hard fan, Will Young, ordered a 100 x 100 (Yes, that’s exactly what you think it is), on Halloween night at the Las Vegas location.
Check out the pic that shows this heart clogging monstrosity.  Will and his 7 friends consumed the entire burger in one sitting.   Now that’s dedication!
After that incident, the chain thought it would be wise to put a cap on the limit.
Other secret menu items not listed:
* Double Meat = like a Double Double without cheese.
* 3 by Meat = three meat patties and no cheese.
* Animal Style Fries = fries with cheese, spread, grilled onions and pickles (if you ask for them).
* Flying Dutchman = two meat patties, two slices of melted cheese and nothing else
* Veggie Burger = burger without the patty or cheese.
* Neapolitan Shake = strawberry, vanilla and chocolate mixed together.
They Are Great to Their Employees
I can remember back to my high school days when minimum wage was around $5 per hour and In-N-Out Employees started off making $8.50…..and this is for a fast food joint!  Jobs now start off paying an amazing $10 per hour and with it comes paid vacations and a very generous 401k plan.  No wonder the employees are so happy to greet when you enter the restaurant.  According to their website, store managers earn just under $100,000 per year.  Wow!

How popular are the jobs? In the past year, the chain has opened up several new locations and each time there have been hundreds of people camped out in lines for a their chance to work there.  More notably was a blazing hot day in Mesa, Arizona where an estimated 600-800 people lined up beginning at 6:30 a.m. hoping they were one of the lucky 60 that would land the job.  They say landing a corporate executive job is hard to get, but this is ruthless.

Even My Wife Loves It

Having been born and raises in the Midwest, my wife had never had the luxury of the In-N-Out experience.  She’s not the biggest burger fan, but I assured her that In-N-Out is not “just” a burger.   On a trip to visit my mom in Vegas, she got to experience what I had hyped up for so long.   The result……success!   She absolutely loved it and even ate it again when we went back the next day (yes, I’m obsessed).
Don’t Just Take My Word For It
I know I’m not the only one that is partial to the great taste of an In-N-Out Burger.  I sent a out a message on Facebook and a “Tweet” on Twitter soliciting reasons why people love In-N-Out burger.  Here’s what they had to say:

@MyTwoDollars:  After moving away from Southern California, In N Out is one of the things I miss the most. Their burgers are fantastic, and their fries, which are cut from potatoes as they are needed, are the best fast-food fries ever. Ahh, In N Out, how I miss you. They are putting one in NM, but I will be living in CO by then!

@CurtisASmithCFP: Love In-in-Out. Can specialize your burger and the sauce is heavenly!

Don’t Let In-N-Out Buger Pass You By
If you happen to be visiting the west coast for the first time, be sure to swing by an In-N-Out Burger.  I promise you won’t be disappointed.  Be sure to report back and share how much you loved it!

In early December, my family and I went to visit my mom in Las Vegas.  Of course you know where my first stop was……right?   You guessed it.  

All in all, in the course of over 7 days, I ate In-N-out 5 times!   Would have had it 6 times, but the last day we had to catch an early flight and unfortunately they are not open by 6:30 a.m.

In-N-Out Burger Animal Style
As many times that I have visited my favorite burger joint, it’s hard to believe that I had never tried the Animal Style off the secret menu.   I decided to give it a go with the fries.  I’m sad to report back that I was unimpressed.  I like the sauce and the grilled onions (even though I’m not an onion fan).  But the cheese just didn’t mesh well with me.  It’s the ONLY time I didn’t enjoy something from there.   Don’t worry – I made up for it by devouring 3 cheeseburgers.

The last night my wife and I ate a full Mexican dinner at The Venetian, but that didn’t detour me from eating In-N-Out Burger one more time.  On the way back to my mom’s house we stopped through the drive thru for one last burger and a chocolate shake.

I’m not sure when we’ll be able to get back to the west coast for some In-N-Out. I can only suppress the inner craving. In-N-Out, I miss you dearly. Until next time….
By Good financial Cents

You know you want it!


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