COULD IT BE A BATTLE BETWEEN EAST COAST VERSUS WEST COAST OR OLD SCHOOL VERSUS HIPSTER...
On the west coast is In & Out, who started as a hamburger drive-thru stand in Baldwin Park, California, in 1948. On the east coast, a popular hot dog cart in Madison Square Park, New York, became a permanent kiosk, in 2004, and that's how Shake Shack was born.
In & Out Since 1948
The menu at In & Out's is very simple offering only 3 combos: Double-Double, Cheeseburger and Hamburger.
The friendly person at the register asks how you like your burger, fries and drink. They specifically ask about onions in the burger. Most Californians know of the secret menu and the tasty add-ons which allows for us to switch things up a little. A few of the not so secret items are the protein burger, grilled cheese and 4x4.
A while ago, I stopped ordering "animal style" and now stick to whole grilled onions, in addition to regular onions, in my burger. The onions add a ton of flavor, yellow peppers on the side, and this is how I enjoy it best.
At In & Out, I get a Cheeseburger combo for only $6.15. Even if I add a shake ($2.45), the price is still right. Individually,the breakdown would look like: cheeseburger ($2.60), french fries ($1.75) and shake ($2.35) for a grand total of $8 (with tax). Mind you, the prices in recent years have gone up. Once you pay, your order number is printed on the receipt and your number is called for pick up.
While In & Out started as a drive-thru, the burger joint is now so mainstream that most locations have large indoor seating. The decor goes in line with a simple yet classic theme. The casual ambiance is actually appreciated. There are no bells and whistles here because the magic is all in the food.
Shake Shack Since 2004
I decided to start the new year with something new and what's new in California? Shake Shack, dear. There had been a lot of talk about Shake Shack being better than In & Out, thus on the first day of 2019, I decided to put my curiosity to rest.
I was in Los Angeles and stopped by the West Hollywood location. It was busy on this holiday and I asked people in line, including a New Yorker, what I should order.
The top recommended items were the The ShakeShack Burger ($5.75) and french fires ($3.09) with cheese that I added on the side. I was in the mood for a shake ($5.29) and the holiday inspired flavors didn't tickle my fancy so I went with strawberry. The shake was good, yet ordinary. The simple meal set me back $15.52—a costly price for fast food.
The menu at Shake Shack is expansive offering veggie burgers, chicken burgers and hot dogs. There are no combos to choose from. Once you pay for your order, the cashier hands you a buzzer to notify you when the order is ready at Pick-Up.
The decor at Shake Shack is understated modern with succulents, wood furnishing and condiment station. The location was fairly big with a fresh patio overlooking Santa Monica Boulevard.
To be fair, what I wanted to find out is if the ShakeShack burger is better than In & Out's comparable cheeseburger. The answer is, NO.
Although I would prefer ShakeShacks beef patty, the overall flavor, size, presentation and price was not up to par. The burger looks like a kids meal. It was prepared with cheese, lettuce, two small slices of roma tomato and no onions... zero!
While the fries at In & Out are cut and made fresh at each location, some might say they are not the best in the industry. They are skinny, short & extra crispy. Over time, they have gotten much better.
On the other hand, Shake Shack's fries are delivered frozen to each location. Topping them with cheese spread, seems to be popular and I'm in. As a sucker for nacho cheese, I did enjoy the meaty crinkle cut fries with the side of cheese. Not to mention, I could order my fries similarly at In & Out.
Quality you can Taste
In & Out has been around for a long time... before I was born. The flavor, quality, consistency and price is unmatched. From the way they toast the buns, grill the onions and make their spread, to the juicy tomato and how the cheese melts perfectly and the flavors come together is so crave-able, even your wallet smiles with satisfaction.