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In-N-Out. Revisited.

Burgers By December 13, 2020 Tags: , No Comments
In-N-Out Montage

The Vitals:
the spot: In-N-Out Burger tested in Austin TX + locations in California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Oregon and soon Idaho
the eats: The “Ali” (unofficial name)
the bucks: approx $6
the full nelson: the ultimate internet burger hack

My first In-N-Out burger experience was . . . underwhelming. Like many, I didn’t get the hype. Being reared in the Midwest off Steak ‘n Shake in the 90s, thin stackable griddled patties were not a new phenomenon to me. I thought the meat was lacking compared to a my go to triple Steakburger from Steak ‘n Shake.

But time marches on. Gold standards falter. And nostalgia evolves as does life. In no small part due to the secret menu and reddit, I have to say that now In-N-Out is my favorite drive thru burger, which in Covid-19 times takes on whole new meaning. But you gotta order it right. Years past I wrote about a number of ways one can navigate the secret menu at In-N-Out. Well now it’s 2020 and I have a new move at In-N-Out. You gotta order “the Ali”.

Yes . . . I have an unofficial named burger at In-N-Out. And when you test drive this triple burger with a double hit of cheese and a bevy of toppings . . . you too will become part of the In-N-Out indoctrinated.

In-N-Out double double with Ali toppings

In-N-Out’s best attribute is actually dangerously misleading. Read the menu and you would think the burger maxes out with the above: a double double animal style. While it’s good to keep the focus on burgers, it’s awesome to have options to make your burger customizable.

Enter, the secret menu. After that, you need to focus on personal palate responsibility. Do you crave a big fat messy burger? Add more meat, cheese and toppings. Crave simplicity? Try the cheeseburger with only ketchup, pickle and grilled onions. For the record, that’s the cheeseburger that should be in the Happy Meal.

In-N-Out the Ali 5

Me? I like a burger you need two hands to eat. I like ratio of meat to bun to toppings that favors the meat. And I freaking love Thousand Island. Real talk: In-N-Out has the best pink sauce in the game.

In-N-Out the Ali 3

This is the “Ali” out of the wrapper. A 3×2 which is three burger patties and two slices of cheese. I got it “Animal style” which means mustard is smeared on the patties while it cooks, lettuce, tomato, pickles, grilled onions and extra spread. But that’s not the whole story.

In-N-Out the Ali 4

The Ali with a 90 degree turn will reveal more. I ordered the lettuce “light” and all credit for that is due to reddit. One grievance I have with In-N-Out is not that they use Iceberg lettuce, but that they will include the stem. Yes, that bland fibrous cousin to celery does not need to be on my burger or any burger for that matter.

Also included in here is raw onion, in addition to the grilled onion. This is critical. I’ve said in the past that “the onion is the truffle of the poor“. Folks, onions define the beefy flavor at In-N-Out.

In-N-Out the Ali 1

And now, the backside.

In addition to the aforementioned, I also added chopped chilis to my In-N-Out burger. Also a credit to reddit, the addition of In-N-Out’s pickled Cascabella peppers is clutch. I know when life long Los Angelenos were hitting me up declaring “I’ve been doing it wrong my whole life” that I struck a nerve. Cascabella peppers are similar to banana peppers and pepperocinis but I find they pack more heat.

Oh, in case you were wondering, this is the side you want to start with. Take that wrapper off and go to town on the side soaked with all that burger goodness. And for God’s sake, ask for extra napkins.

In-N-Out Animal fries

The same principle for the “Ali” work on the fries too. Yeah, the fries at In-N-Out aren’t great but the animal fries are pretty tasty. That being said, I rarely order them because it’s overkill at it’s finest. I’d like to see my kid grow up.

In-N-Out the Ali 2

At the end of the day, this is the burger that has made eat In-N-Out more than ever before. I love burgers with thick patties cooked medium rare and true smashed burgers beat In-N-Out patties all day. I could even make the case that Shake Shack makes a better quality burger.

But In-N-Out is a better burger experience. Cheap, fast and ultimately a reminder that a great hamburger is the sum of its parts. The toppings are just a wee bit more important to the beef. And for the record, this works with 2 or 4 patties though the latter requires the mandibles of a UFC heavyweight.

In-N-Out the Ali 6

For those in the know, add this to your In-N-Out repertoire. And for the In-N-Out haters, consider this burger before your next diss. At around $6, you got nothing to lose.


Sandy’s Hamburgers ~ Austin TX

Austin, Burgers, Cheap Eats By October 13, 2020 Tags: , , , No Comments
Sandy's Hamburgers montage

The Vitals:
the spot: Sandy’s Hamburgers 603 Barton Springs road Austin TX 78704
the eats: cheap burgers
the bucks: cheeseburgers for $5, a double will run $6.40
the full nelson: a nostalgic burger experience fueled by freezer to table fare

Sandy's Hamburgers sign landscape

Sandy’s Hamburgers puts their frozen custard out there front and center. Sure it’s on the signage but if you do a little digging you might find more skeptical critics throw their weight to getting the custard vs the savory fare. I would do the same but I doubt I’ll ever go back here again.

But I still think you should. At least once. And here’s why.

Tater-Mac Big Mac Slider header

This Big Mac Slider has a name: Tater Mac

Burgers, Recipe By April 28, 2020 Tags: , , , , , No Comments

Tater Mac: a Big Mac Slider

Big Mac Slider could have been the best google search I could have done lately, second only to my search for Big Mac Sauce. If you have been keeping up my recent wave of recipes; you may have caught my previous slider recipe: White Castle in your own Castle. Well now it’s time to take on a Big Mac Slider.

Meet Tater Mac: my take on a Big Mac Slider.

Slider Recipe header

Slider Recipe: White Castle in your own Castle

Burgers, Cheap Eats, Recipe By March 17, 2020 Tags: , , No Comments

Slider Recipe montage

a Slider Recipe

A slider recipe. Really? Yeah, it seems so simple you don’t even need one but consider these two fundamental burger realities:

  1. Everybody loves the sound of making burgers on the grill but they don’t always come out primetime.
  2. Everybody loves the sound of sliders but lots of restaurants serve up overpriced lil’ burgers and let’s be real: White Castle is awesome in idea, less so in reality. Unless you are hammered.

Which brings me to an enchanted recipe that merges two great ideas to into an easily executed reality: making sliders in the backyard.


TFB Burger ~ Texas French Bread ~ Austin TX

Austin, Burgers By February 26, 2020 Tags: , , , No Comments

The Vitals:
the spot: Texas French Bread 2900 Rio Grande Austin TX 78705
the eats: TFB Burger: 90/10 Wagyu patty, cheddar, pickles, red onion and a tangy mustard slaw + fries
the bucks: $17  w/ fries
the full nelson:  Luxe burger that skips shock value toppings for classic complimentary flavors

There have been multiple renditions of the TFB Burger at Texas French Bread. I have had two in as many years and both times I have been more than happy to part with almost $20 for the burger experience. Both times I have risen from table with a degree of struggle and an even greater degree of full belly satisfaction.

No, spending $20 on a burger isn’t easy but filling your belly on Wagyu beef on a hamburger bun so coveted that it is shipped to restaurants all over town . . . well that’s certainly worth a worthy price tag. But what really gets me about this burger is the coleslaw . . .


Salt and Time ~ Austin TX

Austin, Burgers, Southwest By December 31, 2019 Tags: , , , No Comments

The Vitals:
the spot: Salt and Time 1912 E. 7th St. Austin TX 78702
the eats: Butcher’s Burger
the bucks: $11(with cheese)
the full nelson: the best burger I have had in years . . .

I’ve been reading Aaron Franklin’s book about steak recently, and it got me fired up to splurge on a premium steak. Not just a Filet Mignon from Whole Foods(ps I think filet is overpriced and not close to the best) but a steak carefully sourced from a local farm. I’m fortunate to have two butcher shops here in Austin to fulfill that request. One is walking distance to me. The other serves The Salt and Time Butcher’s Burger, the best burger I have had in years.