Day two of the trip was all about Lagoon. It was the first time for both children going to a real amusement park (and they thought the rides at the Fair were impressive!), and my first time at one in over a decade. I'm sure you don't want me to regale you with tales of roller coasters or amusement park food, which has been substantially corporate-ized since my last visit...
This was where I had lunch, for example...
This was a lie.
See? All plastic. Sad. Of course, there were treats to be had...
...even if the context was a little unusual.
Including my beloved white cherry Icees, which I was so happy to see for the first time in over a decade that I was more than happy to buy the oversized plastic novelty cup in order to get one. But like I said, not a lot to say otherwise. We left hours later, skin pinkened by the Sun, dehydrated yet still damp from the water rides, and in need of sustenance. What better time for some classic fast food I've never had a chance to try before?
I have a habit of checking out chains with a lot of hype surrounding them when I travel. Sometimes I'm disappointed, sometimes I'm pleasantly surprised. In-N-Out happily turned out to be one of the latter occasions. I had done my research going in, and was well aware of their "secret menu", even beyond the version given on their website. Still, when we stopped at the Centerville location on the way back to the hotel, I decided to play it mostly safe. First time visit and all, so I figured it best not to complicate things too much. The ladies went with the classic cheeseburger and fries option. As for me, I ordered a Double Double with well-done fries. And also a Double Double, Animal Style, split in half. Because I'm crazy.
|Cheeseburgers, fries and drinks|
It doesn't seem like a cheeseburger should be that complicated, but I've had a lot of mediocre or just plain bad ones in my time. And while I do love the huge, gourmet, pub style ones, there's a lot to be said for the comfort of a classic fast food burger. I'm confident in saying that out of all the fast food chains I've been to, In-N-Out just may be the best. From the buttery, toasted buns to the generous portions of onion, from the beautifully ripe tomatoes to the special sauce, the things are just damn good.
|A better look at In-N-Out's fries|
The fries, on the other hand...well, everything you've heard about them is true. In-N-Out may have the best franchise fast food burger I've ever had, but their fries are probably the worst I've ever encountered. The texture is bad, the flavor is bad...they're just awful. Period. Which reinforces how good the burgers are, because how else could a fast food joint with such a limited menu thrive like In-N-Out has with fries this shitty?
Having been warned about the fries beforehand, I decided to order mine well-done, which is exactly what it sounds like. They cook them a little longer so they're nice and crispy. Unfortunately they're crispy all the way through, not just on the outside but with a fluffy middle the way classic double-fried fries are. Still, it is a vast improvement if you just simply have to have fries there.
I like a higher than standard meat to bun ratio on my burgers, which means getting double meat when I'm at a fast food joint. As you would expect, this is everything that the regular cheeseburger is, but meatier. Which means better.
|Double Double, Animal Style|
I ordered my Animal Style burger cut in half for two reasons: it lessens the ability of the meat to continue cooking as it rests, leaving it just a touch rarer inside, and also because I didn't need an entire second burger and thought someone else might want to try it. This sandwich definitely lived up to the hype, as far as I'm concerned. It's the same burger but with a few modifications. First of all, the raw sliced onions are swapped for chopped, grilled ones. Second, they add pickle, which I love. Third, and most important, they put mustard on the patties while grilling them. And lastly, they go a little crazier with the special sauce. The girls were perfectly happy with the standard cheeseburgers, but this is definitely the way I'll be going on any future visits.
Stuffed, happy, exhausted, and with children decked out in complimentary In-N-Out paper hats and stickers, we headed back to the hotel Our last day in town was going to be a big one...
Food: Best fast food burger and worst fries ever.
Value: It's fast food.
Service: Super friendly, and either genuinely so or really well-trained in faking it.
Final Grade: B+ (I'm sorry, fries are important to me)