Like most Californians, I’m familiar with In-N-Out’s most popular “secret” (or– as they put it– not-so-secret) menu items. I typically order my hamburger “protein style” (wrapped in lettuce), and Cole orders his shakes Neopolitan style (chocolate, vanilla & strawberry combined) so often that I didn’t even realize it was a “secret” item.
So I thought I knew it all.
Then Serious Eats posted its “Ultimate In-N-Out Secret Menu (and Super Secret Menu!) Survival Guide,” and– it was like that moment when Adam & Eve (and/or The Emperor?) realize they’re not wearing any clothes. What? Whoa!
Mr. Tea and I perused the “super secret” menu and I actually WROTE DOWN what we wanted to order, so we wouldn’t go blank at the register. (And– just like college– I didn’t actually study my notes until 10 seconds before we ordered.)
Thanks to my hectic work schedule as of late, we had to reschedule our mission several times. And on the night we finally did this (Thursday last), I was sick (again). (But not can’t-taste sick. Just generally miserable sick.) But I wouldn’t let a little blech in my throat deter me.
I stepped up to the register and began to order, and at first the guy behind the counter looked a bit confused. (Note: It’s not called mustard grilled– it’s mustard FRIED.) But he soon caught on that we were ordering heavily modified burgers, and the only hitch in our order was that Mr. Tea received a whole slice of regular onion instead of a whole slice of grilled onion.
Obviously this stuff isn’t TOO secret, because it’s preset in the computers. And I was happy to see that we apparently weren’t charged more than the usual burger prices. THAT was cool.
In case you can’t read In-N-Out-ese…
Mr Tea ordered: A 2×4 (A Double Double with 2 extra pieces of cheese), medium rare, with a root beer float (vanilla shake & root beer). And the failed whole grilled onion. So… just regular onion. (And without tomato, because he believes that only amazing tomatoes deserve his love? But how can you KNOW a tomato is or is not going to be amazing if you don’t try it?) (That is not a metaphor for anything.) (IS it?)
I ordered: A #3 (hamburger, fries, drink– but I subbed in a root beer float). I got the hamburger mustard fried (cooked in mustard, comes with pickles), with chopped grilled onions. And I got it cut in half, because I have some weird type of OCD where my sandwiches must be cut in half (in triangles, if possible). (I think “split in half” was the most exciting part, for me.) (Tied with the fries…)
I got my french fries “light,” which means they fry them for less time– and they’re mushier for it. (I generally prefer mushy fries… it’s a very devisive issue.) (I also drown my fries in ketchup… to Mr. Tea’s amusement.)
Isn’t it cute that they wrap each half individually?
(I also have a version of that picture where Mr. Tea is looking very alarmed because the Sherman Oaks In-N-Out is frequented by eccentric homeless patrons.)
When I bit into my burger, my first thought was– McDonald’s. With the addition of chopped grilled onions and pickles– and more of a mustard flavor– you can see how that would be the case. The next day when I uploaded my pictures to Flickr, I realized another reason why the burger tasted less In-N-Out-y: It appears that when they mustard fry a burger, they leave off their signature secret sauce (aka “spread”)(aka Thousand Island dressing, more or less).
Not that McDonald’s is a bad thing. I actually like to eat their burgers– but I take off one side of the bun, because the bread tends to overpower the meat and isn’t that great. And it’s cheap. But… when I come to In-N-Out, I come for the In-N-Out. You know?
And Mr. Tea thought his modified burger tasted more like Carney’s than a regular Double Double would.
In conclusion– I think the “super secret” menu remains unlisted at In-N-Out because what’s ON the menu (& the not-so-secret menu) is their ideal, time-tested burger. If I can get my protein style split in half, I will be a happy woman. And I will go to McDonald’s or Carney’s if I want a burger in that style, because they’re cheaper AND they don’t potentially support freaky right-wing causes.
I WILL keep ordering the “light” fries (on the occasions when I remember they exist). Sounds healthy, right? I can fool myself into believing that. (But I’ll trade the root beer float back in for lemonade… it kinda gave me a stomachache, and I had to add more root beer because the ratio of shake-to-root beer was wonky.)
Overall, I’m glad I tried the super secret menu. But if you’re an out-of-towner and you only get one shot… just order off the good old fashioned menu.
Until next time…