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Fat Guy

In-N-Out v. Fatburger

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For a while, I've wanted to do a side-by-side tasting of the burgers, fries and shakes from In-N-Out and Fatburger. This isn't something that can be done where I live, because there are no In-N-Out locations in the East. I was able to hit the Fatburger in Atlantic City, NJ, a while back, but that didn't allow for a side-by-side tasting.

I'm in Arizona at the moment and, though I hadn't anticipated it, I seem to be surrounded by both In-N-Out and Fatburger locations. So, with the help of some friends, we engineered a near-simultaneous purchase of a variety of In-N-Out and Fatburger products, from two close-by locations, and did a taste test.

If the question is simply "which burger is better" then there's no question in my mind that Fatburger is the winner. The relatively thick patty used in the standard Fatburger is superior to the McDonald's-like skinny patties used by In-N-Out. And I like the Fatburger condiments and bun a bit better. This is the case over a few permutations of burgers from both places (here I'm going both by the tasting and by memory of many other burgers I've had). Even if you double up on your In-N-Out patties, it's not comparable. I doubt there's any conceivable special order that could bring an In-N-Out burger up to the Fatburger standard.

If the question takes into account all aspects of the establishment, then In-N-Out shows much better: far better fries, a bit better shakes, better atmosphere, better service.... The fries at In-N-Out are cut on premises. They're not fabulous, because they're not cooked the way great fries should be cooked (twice), but they're so much better than Fatburger's frozen specimens, both thin and fat. The shakes are a closer call, but I think for a shake lover the In-N-Out shake is better, thicker, tasting less of additives. This seemed true to me of both chocolate and vanilla, with the margin being wider on the chocolate.

In-N-Out also has more enthusiastic employees and a better look and feel. The efficiency is astounding. It's a high-energy place, whereas Fatburger is not. This I've seen confirmed at several locations of both. I particularly love the cult of special ordering at In-N-Out.

So, Fatburger has a better burger and In-N-Out has better everything else. I'm not sure who wins. New York City would be very lucky to have either.

Also, for your entertainment pleasure, here's our son PJ at In-N-Out earlier this week:

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While I can't comment on the comparison, having never been to "Fat Burger", I simply have to say that anyplace that lets you order a burger "animal style" gets my vote.

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Steven, I agree with your assessment of the hamburgers.

One of our Las Vegas highlights was always stopping for a Fatburger on the Strip. They serve quite a good hamburger.

That Fatburger offers onion rings and chili fries (even though they're not the best out there) was always a plus for me. The anemic french fries served at In-N-Out are a huge detraction for me. I've never tried them "well done" (one of their secret sodes) which might make them taste better.

edited to add: That can't be PJ. He was just a baby! It's funny how kids get older but we don't. :wink:


Edited by Toliver (log)

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Regarding the quantity of meat, that is easily fixed: Behold the In-N-Out  Secret Menu! Order as many patties, or as much cheese, as you want. And always order the fries Well Done.

When Fatburger is on, it's really ON. However, they're rarely on. That's why In-N-Out has as many fans as it does -- consistency, good prices, clean shops (some Fatburger locations verge on the disgusting), and friendly kids (some Fatburger locations have employees you want to see served Animal style :laugh:).

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What I like about In-N-Out is that they are the only fast food "burger place" that when you order a combo without cheese they actually subtract the price of the cheese. Every place else, 99% of the time their combos include cheese and you pay that price whether you order it with or without cheese.

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One reason In-N-Outs service and staff are cheerful and attentive may be that they start at $10 and hour.

On the rare occasions I eat fast food it is usually In-N-Out. They do what they do extremely well.

Great Benefits

We start all our new Associates at a minimum of $10.00 an hour for one simple reason...you are important to us! And our commitment to a higher starting wage is just one of the ways in which we show it. Another way is through offering excellent benefits like flexible schedules to accommodate school and other activities, paid vacations, free meals, comprehensive training, and a 401k plan. For our full time Associates, we provide a benefits package that also includes medical, dental, vision, life and travel insurance coverage.

Great Opportunities

Our work environment is team-oriented, fast paced and fun. We encourage ALL of our In-N-Out Associates to grow with the company, to become part of our success story. That's why your success is ours!

* Most of our managerial staff have started as hourly associates and have been promoted from within.

* We support our Associates by providing an ongoing training program.

* On average, our Store Managers earn just under $100,000 a year.


Edited by 6ppc (log)

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I've had them both and this So. Cal. gal votes for In-N-Out! Double meat, no cheese, with grilled onions is the best! Their fries do suck even if you do order them well done. Not a shake person unless it's a Date shake from Hadley's.

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I've never had Fatburger. But if their fries are worse than In-n-Out, then they must be horrible. IMHO, In-n-Out fries suck. And it's exatly for the reason Steven mentioned. Cooking method. To me, a frozen fry cooked properly should be able to be better than a fresh cut fry cooked improperly.

Still, I give In-n-Out very high marks. They take a specific concept (chain, fast food burger joint) and do it about as well as you can. Way more stuff done right than done wrong.

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I like In-N-Out burgers better than Fatburger.

Maybe it's a guy thing to want a lot of meat, I dunno, but personally I don't care who has the biggest patties, the most meat, etc. I like one hot ordinary-sized patty, no cheese, plenty of cool veggies (I often order extra) - lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions - good flavor. I also don't eat fries, so don't care about that, either. In fact, I never get any sides, so for me, it's all about the burger.

And I just very much prefer the taste of In-N-Out burgers to Fatburgers. They always seem fresher - the bun better, the veggies crunchier.

Yum.

So in my personal burger smackdown, In-N-Out wins.

______________________


Edited by Jaymes (log)

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Never been to a Fatburger. Actually, I haven't eaten at a fast food restaurant in a decade or two. Except for In-N-Out! There is one about 2 minutes from my house, and sometimes, when I have just really had it, I escape to In-N-Out for what I will now call a Susie-Q burger (Double meat, no cheese, with grilled onions!!!) and a chocolate shake. The stuff is like drugs.

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I too have never been to fat burger, but I do go to In n' Out several times a year. I have to agree that their fries kinda suck, but only after 2 minutes go by... then they get a bit card-boardy... the first two minutes they are good... but I am usually enjoying the burger. When I was on the Atkins diet for a bit, In n' Out was a safe indulgence due to their "protein burger". After viewing images of the 20x20 I am not sure I can finish one these days (in my 20's maybe..) But I would love to go at an 8x8 and I think I will try to piece together two 4x4s sometime soon.

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Even if you double up on your In-N-Out patties, it's not comparable. I doubt there's any conceivable special order that could bring an In-N-Out burger up to the Fatburger standard.

If the question takes into account all aspects of the establishment, then In-N-Out shows much better: far better fries, a bit better shakes, better atmosphere, better service.... The fries at In-N-Out are cut on premises. They're not fabulous, because they're not cooked the way great fries should be cooked (twice), but they're so much better than Fatburger's frozen specimens, both thin and fat.

One thing I've learned from the In-n-Out "secret menu" website is you can ask the In-n-Out people to do anything reasonable -- and even some unreasonable things like the 100x100 burger.

So I've taken to asking them to drop my fries twice. I don't eat at In-n-Out often, so when I do, I don't mind waiting an extra 10 minutes for my fries to be cooked properly. "Hi, I have a special request. Please drop my fries into the fryer for one minute. Take them out. Shake them off. Let them sit for a few minutes. And then drop them again and fry them normally." They've never said no. (I cannot ask them to lower their oil temperature, so a one-minute blanch is a good approximation.)

I agree with your assessment of Fatburger's burger quality vs. In-n-Out. Even "Animal Style" In-n-Out is just a fast food burger. Fatburger makes burgers that approach homemade.

But as a friend from California famously said, "You've got TWO Tommy's in Las Vegas and you're still screwing around with In-n-Out and Fatburger? What the hell is wrong with you?"

Tommy's Original Hamburger Shack trumps both of them, because they serve their food with "addicting like crack cocaine" chili on top.

So, for the ultimate fast food experience:

A Fatburger, with Tommy's chili on it, accompanied by double-dropped In-n-Out fries also with Tommy's Chili on it, and a Sierra Nevada beer. And a serving of chili on the side.

But if a Fatburger, Tommy's and In-n-Out were next to each other and I could only spend money in one, I'd go to Tommy's. While a part of me would pine for the Fatburger patty, Tommy's wins the "best overall experience" -- their burgers are better than In-n-Out. The fries are about the same as In-n-Out (and better than Fatburger). I can't speak about milk shakes -- I don't like ice cream paired with beef.

EDIT -- And Fatburger onion rings are horrible. At least they are at the Fatburgers in Las Vegas. Great burgers, but crappy rings.


Edited by ScoopKW (log)

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Steven,

Have you ever had a burger at Five Guys? They are my favorite fast food burger. I've never had In N Out or Fatburger. How does it (Five Guys) compare to In N Out? Montclair, N.J. will have a Five Guys soon which will be located near Elevation Burger and Smashburger right on Bloomfield Ave. Smashburger also makes an excellent burger, comparable to Five Guys. Their cooking method is similar to White Rose, White Manna, and White Diamond in N.J. They take a ball of meat and smash it down on the griddle before it is cooked. Well done, but juicy and delicious.

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I throw my "vote" into the Fatburger ring - while I too enjoy In N' Out - to me, the best burger is found at Fatburger. IMHO Five Guys attempts to recreate a Fatburger, but, they just aren't the same - of course,there is an Astro Burger across the street from Paramount Studios that had awesome onion rings - but, that was some 30 years ago when I lived in L.A. - I still remember my first Fatburger at a little place on Western....dang- that sold me forever...took my wife there several years later on our honeymoon - and she is also hooked on Fatburger. It's one of the first places we stop in either Vegas or LA on our trips back

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Tommy Burger, the only burger you eat once then it eats you twice.... the chili grease that is. Still it was gooooood.

I remember going to the one at Beverly and Rampart as a kid with my parents. Sliding open the lid on the metal cooler and grabbing a glass bottle of chocolate milk. Tommy burger extra chili no pickles or a tamale with chili? It was always a tough decision.

Haven't had one in years. Mmmmmm...... maybe I should.


Edited by Susie Q (log)

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I had my first In and Out Burger last week. A double double.

 

VG indeed. No gloppy sauces, good burger. Not a fan of toasted rolls though.

 

FFs were not very good at all. Mealy they were and pale

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Sigh, no in & out burgers in Washington state but they are the best burgers I've ever had.  Five Guys come in a deep second.

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Nor is I & O in PA.

Sad state of affairs.

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i completely agree on the In and Out burgers

 

and the FF were not as good at McD when they use fresh oil.

 

however , maybe not Fast  but but FairlyFast  :   the best is ShackShack  : SmokeShack burger.  SS  FF were also not very good.

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I don't think that In & Out blanches their fries. Every time I have had them they have been oddly starchy. Five guys does a better job with old fashioned fries. (no comparison to the modern, 19-ingredient crunchy ones)

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what im stuck with in :

 

In and Out

 

and ShakeShack

 

and indeed 5 guys

 

they have not paid any attention to the fries

 

I can't address other chains

 

but these have for sure neglected their fries

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In and Out fries are very good when they are eaten right away.  Let them sit for 10 minutes and they are terrible.  So eat them in (not out) and quickly.

 

What I love about I&O is that if you order one of their combos that includes cheese on the burger, and you have them make it without, they actually deduct the price of the cheese.  No other fast food chain does that.

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I&O  also melt the cheese  , as does ShakeS

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23 hours ago, gfweb said:

I had my first In and Out Burger last week. A double double.

 

VG indeed. No gloppy sauces, good burger. Not a fan of toasted rolls though.

 

FFs were not very good at all. Mealy they were and pale

I heartily concur regarding your opinion of the french fries. They truly suck. I'm amazed they haven't improved them over the years. 

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