A friend recently described In-N-Out to me as the place “where the young cool kids of SoCal and tourists like to get thin burgers on a late Thursday night.” This friend is not from an In-N-Out state, and therefore I find this answer interesting. They are removed from the culture surrounding In-N-Out. In-N-Out is very popular, but it is not popular because they serve the best burger in the world. After all, their burgers are thin. The “cool kids”, however, eat there, and post photos of double-doubles on Instagram with the hashtag “dank.” Trips to In-N-Out are often hyped up to a level not usually associated with thin burgers. But while In-N-Out rarely lives up to this hype, it is the most consistent, cheap burger I know of. The key to this consistency, I believe, is their meat and costumer service.
The meat is fresh, something that becomes clear after one bite. Where the meat in most fast-food burgers is dry and fake tasting, an In-N-Out patty is juicy and tastes like actual meat. For me, another key are the grilled onions, which add great texture to an otherwise mediocre sandwich. There are other factors – the paper wrapping, the bun, the Thousand Island sauce – at play, but the difference maker at In-N-Out is the hospitality.
To a reasonable extent, servers at In-N-Out will try to grant any request. This includes having a burger cooked rare, prepared animal style, or made up of five patties (more commonly known as a 5X5). One time I asked for iced coffee – which is not on the menu. The server paused for a moment before he proceeded to take a soda cup, fill it with ice, and put coffee into it, making me my iced coffee. All of this – not just the iced coffee – presents the costumer with endless possibilities, not restricted to what is listed above on the menu. So where In-N-Out may serve a slightly above average thin pattied burger, they bring the cool kids and tourists in by exceptional service. Just ask your server for one of those paper caps; they’ll oblige.