I have already explained (here) how California's longest lasting contribution to the world's cuisine is big Fast Food. In my recent trip to SoCal (Southern California), I finally got to experience two of perhaps the most iconic Californian fast food creations: In-N-Out Burgers and Roscoe's fried chicken and waffles.
Both seem to have cult status, with people raving about them. I wanted to see why myself, since I hadn't heard of either before moving to the US. Today I will talk about the burgers. Next post is about the chicken and waffles.
In-N-Out out Burger
Friends had told me epic stories of In-N-out drive-ins packed with cars standing in long lines, even at night. I had dismissed them all as a figure of speech. Until I saw a traffic clog for a burger myself. But let's go in order.
In-N-Out is a burger fast food chain founded - and primarily located in - California, but with outposts in various Western States. The menu is very simple, and hasn't changed much since the first drive in was open, back in 1948 in Irvine: hamburgers, cheeseburgers, fries, shakes. Not as many options as at a Mcdonald's. But there is a catch: the secret menu (which is not so secret, actually).
Friends had told me that you could order your burgers or fries with "special features", by saying secret words. For instance, you could have your burgers animal style, or even order a grilled cheese sandwich, which is not on the original menu (we will talk another time about the obsessions of Americans for grilled cheese sandwiches...)
I followed my friend's advice, and got a cheeseburger animal style (with, among other things, grilled onions, extra spread and a mustard cooked beef patty). The burger didn't seem anything special, as you can see from the photo: the patty is very thin. BUT, they do pack a punch in terms of flavor...This was probably the best fast food burgers I have had in a long while. It crashes Chicago's Epic burgers, which I thought were good.
The sauce, the cheese, the grilled onions, they all work together very well. The bread - which seems very normal - is the perfect vehicle for the punch of flavors that come from the combination of what's inside. Juicy, greasy, yet not in a bad way.
Is it the best fast food burger I have ever had? Possibly. If not, it is certainly on par with Kopp's cheeseburger, which I had elected my best burger ever. So good that I had a second one a couple of days later. Way to celebrate the reaching of my ideal Weight Watcher's weight, actually...
The fries were also good, but they were just fries: nothing to write home about. The chocolate shake was also good, but I still think that the peanut butter shake at Epic burgers is superior.
And then there was the largest chicken breast I have ever eaten in my life, both succulent and disturbing. But we will talk about it next time.