Tag Archives: fast food

A Fast-Food Burger Chain I Can Support

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In-N-Out Burger is lifted right out of the 1950s

Fast-food chains are the antithesis of what I promote in this road-food blog, which is good, independently owned, affordable restaurants.

But a western U.S. hamburger chain, In-N-Out Burger has long attracted a cult-like following among hip food lovers. And when I saw Anthony Bourdain extolling the virtues of In-N-Out’s thin, crispy patties, I figured I had to check it out.

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In-N-Out is a family run, Southwest US, chain based out of California

After a couple of years of procrastinating, I finally find myself pulling into an outlet in Kingman, Arizona during a long drive between Tucson and Las Vegas. And I must say, I’m suitably impressed.

Now, don’t expect a gourmet burger made from freshly ground sirloin, cooked medium rare and topped with blue cheese and charred hot peppers. But this California-based, family run southwest U.S. chain is definitely a good step above the usual fast-food suspects.

The first thing I notice when entering the spotless premises is the 10 or more cheerful staff behind the counter, each wearing a white shirt, paper hat and red aprons secured at the back with a giant safety pin.

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My companion says the place reminds her of the 1950s. Which makes sense, considering In-N-Out was founded in 1948 and has kept many of its practices and ingredients unchanged over the years.

The second thing I notice is the concise menu: three types of hamburgers along with fries, shakes and a few other drinks. That’s it!

I order the double cheeseburger, for a whopping $3.60. When the most-pleasant attendant asks if I’d like onions, I jokingly ask if they’re caramelized. “No, but would you like them grilled?” he responds.

To me, this indicates the burgers are cooked to order—a suspicion confirmed by the several minutes it takes for the food to be ready. Everything is nicely presented, with the burgers half exposed above the paper wrapper.

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The burger wrapper tells the story

The burgers are straight forward—adorned with lettuce, tomato and sauce—but well executed with toasted buns and flavourful, nicely crisped thin patties. The thin fries could be hotter but are otherwise tasty, as is a vanilla shake you could stand a spoon in.

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Nice, crisp, inexpensive burgers

My overall impression is “fresh”, both for the food and the fresh-faced staff. Simple, but simply well done.

In-N-Out Burger
1770 Beverly Avenue, Kingman, Arizona
Daily 10:30 am-1 am, except 1:30 am closings Friday and Saturday

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Unlock My Chains: The Big 3 Fast-Food Restaurants & Coffee Shops

There's nearly always lineups at Canada's fast-food king, Tim Horton's

There’s nearly always lineups at Canada’s fast-food king, Tim Hortons

I’m all about independent food places and coffee shops. It’s why I write this blog. But I do occasionally sneak into a fast-food chain. Honest, it’s just to use their WiFi connection when I can’t find a local, open coffeehouse and need to locate something or book a last-minute motel, especially if my smart phone is turned off to save roaming charges in the U.S.

As a result, I get to focus my laser-like observation skills on how these chains operate and the coffee lingo used by regulars: a “double-double” (two cream, two sugar) in Canada’s Tim Hortons and, my favourite, a “tall Ethiopian” in Starbucks. Plus, I invariably order a coffee or snack, seeing as how I might be using their WiFi for half an hour and think it’s highly unethical to carry an empty Starbucks’ or McDonald’s cup from place to place to feign a purchase. Really, I’ve hardly ever done that.

The reason the following places are successful is they, like other popular chains, deliver consistency and predictability, with enough new products thrown in to keep the regulars from getting bored. Mind you, when pulled pork, poutine or paninis hits their menus, you know the trend has long since passed. And the stuff is churned out so fast that “made to order” is not in the vocabulary.

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