Many years ago, back when I was living in Colorado, I was dating a woman whose roots were in California, proving that just about everyone in the Mile High State is seemingly from somewhere else. When we went to visit her home outside Los Angeles, one of the first places we stopped just down the road from Ontario International Airport was In-N-Out Burger, California’s venerable burger joint.
I thought it was merely okay for a burger place, but definitely not the out-of-body experience that people have near orgasmically described it as, especially as of late.
Since appearing throughout Texas over the past couple of years, now many Oklahomans have become moderately irritating in their untested and untasted love for the place, making specially planned trips to and fro, moderately unaware of how many mediocre burger places this city already has—we really don’t need anymore.
If there’s one thing Oklahoma doesn’t need, it’s In-N-Out.
A few weeks ago, on my way to San Antone, I stopped at anIn-N-Out outside Waco, willing to put my tastes to the test one more time. With grand delusions of animal-style burgers and onion-sauced fries, I figured with the overabundance of praise the place gets from people, maybe this is a case where I truly am wrong and might need to prepare a well-versed mea culpa just in case.
Once inside their admittedly beautiful restaurant, after a moment of glancing at the menu-board, I ordered a Double-Double Cheeseburger ($3.95) with Animal-Style French Fries ($1.80), the classic In-N-Out meal, very reasonably priced I thought. Undeniably cost-effective, that is one thing that In-N-Out may have over many of OKC’s fast-food eateries.
Delivered to my table, the cheeseburger was ad-ready and picture-perfect while the fries were glistening, the animal-sauce dripping off each fry. It certainly does look good, but, as we all know, good looks can only carry you so far, like to the Red River and back.
The Double-Double was nothing to write home about. What should have been two juicy patties of beef were instead a pair of dry flanks of meat, reminding me of the those hamburger patties you can get a box of at Wal-Mart for $4.88; even with a hearty dip in the animal-sauce, a slight improvement, I was still left unsatisfied and underwhelmed.
The fries, thin and crisp, were somewhat better. Perhaps it wasn’t the fries so much as the aforementioned animal-sauce, with the sweet caramelized onions throughout that gave it its much vaunted taste. The main problem here being the sauce just overtakes each and every bite—a little goes a long way and this was a voluminous dump. Why not serve it in a side-cup for dipping instead?
For the rest of my trip, a greasy white bag with half a burger and a handful of fries sat in the backseat, forgotten and fermenting until it was inevitably thrown away on my way back home, untouched and unmissed.
While there are plenty of ho-hum burger joints in Oklahoma that will easily match In-N-Out, there are a few local places that far surpass it; homegrown restaurants that could never be imitated or duplicated en masse, like Geronimo’s Bakery at 1817 N. Martin Luther King, for example. Now that’s a damn good burger that we, as a city, should be fawning over.
The apology letter is firmly tucked back in the desk, to be used another time, another place.
Maybe it’s the prospect of something from California to make Oklahoma seem hip or Hell, maybe it’s as simple as the free sticker for your car—but if there’s one thing that Oklahoma doesn’t need, it’s an In-N-Out.