In-and-Out Burger vs. Shake Shack

I’ve been missing for a few days and it’s because Mike and I have been on the road, driving down to LA. We have a California music mix we’ve been listening to and for the last two days, I’ve been falling asleep with to the refrain of “to live and die in LA, it’s the place to be” over and over again in my head.

We haven’t been stopping to eat much real food, but we did manage to hit up an In-and-Out Burger, which I’ve been meaning to do for a long time. I’m a huge fan of Shake Shack and In-and-Out is Cali’s burger of choice. The meat is fresh, never frozen, the lettuce is hand-leafed and the fries are fresh cut.

It’s a classic East Coast vs. West Coast battle, burger style. Of course, I didn’t have a Shake Shack burger sitting in front of me, but vivid memories of the five burgers I ate on my last trip to NYC still haunt my dreams.

I had cheeseburgers at both In-and-Out and Shake Shack.

Meat: Seasoning-wise, I found both the meats quite good. Shake Shack’s patty was a touch juicier and larger, so I’m going to have to hand it to them. I thought the patty at In-and-Out was a little on the small size, so I’m going to be having a double the next time I give them a try.

Bun: There’s no contest for the bun, hands down, Shake Shack’s Martin’s potato buns win the day. They’re lightly grilled, soft, yet not soggy and just slightly sweet. In-and-Out’s buns were good too, but they were just regular buns. I also found them a touch too toasted.

Cheese: Both burgers come with ooey gooey American cheese. Nothing to argue about there.

Toppings: In-and-Out burgers come with iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, spread and optional onions. While I appreciated the crispness of the iceberg lettuce, I thought there was too much of it. I did like the crunch of the barely cooked onion cross-section, which surprisingly didn’t come off as too oniony.

Shake Shack burgers come standard with green leaf lettuce, plum tomatoes, and shack sauce. While I though the lettuce was too much on the In-and-Out, I loved the green leaf lettuce on Shake Shack’s burger. It was fresh, crisp and didn’t over power the meat.

I couldn’t taste much difference between the spread and the shack sauce, but that was because I was too busy stuffing my face.

Fries: In-and-Out’s fries are hand cut at each location. I saw a guy who’s sole purpose was peeling potatoes and pumping them through the french fry cutter. The fries were crisp and hot, but a tad undercooked. I like my fries super crunchy and double-fried, Belgium style.

Shake Shack’s fries are made from Yukon Gold’s and their crunch is undeniable. Most people don’t talk about Shake Shack’s fries, but I really, really love them.

Wait: There’s no question, the wait at Shake Shack is insane. In-and-Out cooks their burgers to order, just like the Shack, but their multiple locations means there is practically no wait. If there was a Shake Shack in Vancouver, with In-and-Out wait times, I wouldn’t be blogging, I’d just be eating Shack burgers.

So, all in all, I guess I’m an East Coast girl, if only for the burgers. But don’t worry California, you still have a week to change my mind. I know the food’s good out here, so do any of you have LA eating suggestions? I’m down for anything as long as it makes my tummy happy.

Bonus: check out Kenji’s awesome posts if you want to make your own Shake Shack or In-and-Out burgers at home!

31 Comments add yours

  1. So many suggestions. First of all, if you do In and Out again, you got to order your burger and your fries animal style. Secondly, once you’re in LA, if you’re looking for a good burger, Umami is the place to go. Aside from burgers, I would suggest Animal, for amazing meatness, Jitlada for incredibly spicy but amazing thai food, Sapp Coffee House for a quick thai lunch (get the boat noodle soup, with or without the offal), Mozza for great Batali italian, or Mozza pizzeria for pizza… But mainly, LA is all about food trucks, find a Kogi truck, you won’t be disappointed. Susan Feniger’s Border Grill also has a truck that’s pretty great. There’s also so many more good fancy restaurants, inexplicably expensive korean restaurants, and of course, some great mexican food.

    Thanks for the awesome suggestions. We were thinking of checking out Animal, Umami and the Kogi truck!

    steph on August 27th, 2010 at 11:26 am
  2. At In-n-Out, it’s all about the double-double, animal style! I haven’t had east coast burgers so I can’t say if it’s better or worse. Maybe it’s personal preference? I like how the buns are crispy, and I usually ask for my onions grilled. I’m not a big fan of the fries, but you can ask for them well done which gets you extra crispy fries. I also personally get my double doubles protein style (no buns, just wrapped in lettuce). While you’re in LA you should try out the local food truck scene – both the original taco trucks as well as the new gourmet food trucks. There really is a lot of good food out here in LA because of the large immigrant populations – all sorts of mexican, cuban, salvadorean, korean, japanese (even grill your own okonomiyaki!), thai, chinese, armenian, indian, and fine dining too with places that even experiment with molecular gastronomy.

    Tell me more about this famed land of food trucks!!! Where do I find them?

    You can find a bunch of them listed here: http://mobimunch.com/ or here http://www.findlafoodtrucks.com/. If you’re not busy tomorrow, the OC Foodie Fest has 50 food trucks attending: http://www.ocfoodiefest.com/. It can be a pain to track them down sometimes, but they’re pretty much all on Twitter. I’m a fan of the LudoTruck, started by Ludo Lefebvre. In terms of the original taco trucks…sadly I’ve only really tried the ones near my apartment. There’s one, El Taquito which parks in front of Nishikawa Auto on Fair Oaks in Pasadena, which has delicious tacos. We get the al pastor, lengua, and cabeza.

    Thanks for the awesome tips!

    steph on August 27th, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    Thanks for letting me know about the OC Foodie Fest!!! I’m so going to it! I really want to try out LudoTruck, and it’s going to be there! You’ve made me one happy girl!

    steph on August 27th, 2010 at 12:16 pm
    Nina on August 27th, 2010 at 11:49 am
    steph on August 27th, 2010 at 11:34 am

    Thanks for letting me know about getting extra crispy fries. I’m sure I’m gonna try In-and-Out one more time before I go.

    steph on August 27th, 2010 at 12:14 pm
  3. I find the burgers to be very, very close in overall quality. For the fries… I’ll give it to Shake Shack, but I love In-n-Out’s if only because they are quite different from what you usually get.

    But here is the real difference for me – at Shake Shack you wait forever and pay through the nose. In-n-Out is fast and *cheap*. A Double-Double is $3 compared to $7.25 (!) for a double burger at Shake Shack.

    Alas, I truly love both of them and can’t wait for Shake Shack’s DC location to open (because hell will freeze over before In-n-Out makes it out here!)

    I agree, the wait is a pain…

    steph on August 27th, 2010 at 12:13 pm
  4. I like how quirky and amusing In n’ Out’s “secret” menu is. People order “Flying Dutchmen” and Napoleon shakes or animal style everything up.

    Anyway, while in LA, do check out Porto’s! It’s a family run Cuban bakery/restaurant and there are two locations- one in Burbank and one in Glendale. The lines can get insanely long on the weekends so watch out. The cheese pastries are bomb diggity and I like the MediaNoche sandwich and the potato meatballs (like a Cuban version of the croquette).

  5. Go to Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, Din Tai Fung, El Paladar Oaxaqueno Taco Truck (order the beef tongue tacos!!!), and if you are a cupcake girl check out SusieCakes (way better than Magnolia or Sprinkles in my opinion). Also, skip Pink’s…it’s really not worth the wait!

    YES :) Din Tai Fung for the xlb!!!!!

    Ahh! din tai fung is so good. Definitely get the pork dumplings (they have this delicious broth inside them that you slurp up with vinegar and ginger), the seasonal vegetables (the baby bok choy is my favorite), and the shanghai rice cakes. If you like red bean, the steamed red bean buns for dessert are also amazing.

    Keeley Nakamoto on August 31st, 2010 at 10:48 am
    Danielle on August 28th, 2010 at 9:38 am
  6. Next time ask for the In-n-Out’s french fries “well done” they cook it a tad longer to make it extra crispy! While in LA you should check out Scoops Ice Cream:
    712 N Heliotrope Dr
    Los Angeles, CA 90029
    Neighborhood: Wilshire Center

    They make one-of-a-kind batches of icecream and when it runs out, its out. The genius maker behind it all always does great combos like Strawberry Balsamic or Fois gras and sweet cream for example.

  7. you should check out fathers office for their signature burger and wide selection of beers. i love red corner asia for thai food. luscious dumplings for awesome dumplings. osteria mozza is hands down the best italian food in LA. if youre LA you have to check out koreatown for awesome korean food. sprinkles for the red velvet cupcakes. i could go on and on. let me know if you had anything specific in mind or specific areas of LA!

    i second the father’s office burger rec. my personal fave in all of LA. i also really like the little tokyo area of downtown: wurstkuche for sausages and belgian style fries; the lazy ox canteen; daikokuya. also, the sushi here is fantastic: sasabune, nozawa, hiko.

    abby on August 28th, 2010 at 8:50 am

    If you have never had real mochi ice cream, you need to check out mikawaya. They make the stuff you find in the frozen section at trader joes, but the real thing freshly made is so much better. Let them sit out till they get a little soft and…melt in your mouth perfection.

    Keeley Nakamoto on August 31st, 2010 at 10:51 am
  8. If you’re a noodle lover you have to go to Oumi Sasaya

    http://www.yelp.com/biz/oumi-sasaya-lomita

    They serve of the best udon I’ve ever had. Their broth is so flavorful and clean tasting. They have curry udon too. Their tempura udon even come with tempura mochi!

  9. Huh, I’d categorized Shake Shack at a higher price point (and quality level – I mean, come on, a portobello cap on top of the meat is a great idea) than In-n-Out.

    Animal-style fries are the awesome, though. Super super bad for me, but I do love ‘em.

  10. I’m from California, and every time somebody finds out I’m from there they immediately tell me how lucky I am to have In n’ Out Burgers… but personally our family has never been a fan :-/ We even gave them another go a month ago, but there’s really nothing about them to write home about in my opinion. I’ve never tried Shake Shack, but for regional burger loyalty I’m partial to Whataburger in Texas.

    While you’re in LA you should head over to Little Tokyo and check out Daikokuya Rahmen. It’s pretty popular so there’s usually a wait, but they’re open until midnight and the ramen is really really good!

  11. I used to live in LA and had a slight obsession with In-N-Out. When I moved back east and discovered Shake Shack, I knew I wouldn’t miss In-N-Out anymore. I think you’re right… Shake Shack is overall better, and they made me believe in crinkle cut fries, which I usually detest :)

  12. Cute redesign! Seconding the plug for Jitlada, but you have to order off the Southern Thai specialty menu (it should be on the back page). Really fantastic, spicy, authentic food. AOC is always outstanding. And my top ramen pick for L.A. is Chabuya on Sawtelle (which is a neighborhood that’s really worth checking out in general…tons of cute Japanese shops and, more importantly, eats).

  13. Definitely making a former LA-er miss In-N-Out!i third the plug for mozza- either osterio or pizza. for sushi- try izakaya by katsuya on third street. down the street from there is a lovely lunch spot called joan’s on third, and across the street is amazing cook-book store called “the cook’s library”. im also a big fan of sunday suppers at luques- if you are going to be there on a sunday. enjoy!

  14. A tip on the In-N-Out fries….order them “lightly well” and their almost exactly like pommes frites. Well done fries are overcooked.

    And Double-Double animal style is definitely the way to go.

  15. I’m from Boston and I tried both the Shake Shack burger and had In n Out this past summer. Maybe it’s because I’ve had In n Out numerous times before, but I think the Shake Shack is just OK. I do give it that the meat is juicier and more flavorful, but you didn’t order a double double animal style, which makes all the difference. The caramelly glazed onions just can’t be beat. And I’m a under-fry kind of gal, and don’t like overly crispy, too browned, dried out french fries. Especially when you can order fries in the animal style as well..

    http://aht.seriouseats.com/archives/2010/07/the-burger-lab-how-to-make-an-in-n-out-double-double-animal-style.html

  16. I thought In N Out was pretty good, then I moved to Australia and tried Oporto, they have something called the Bondi Burger, its a Chicken Burger with Mayo, Cheese, and Hot Sauce. It sounds gross but its as addictive as crack, it is so addictive that I get withdrawal symptoms whenever I am back in North America. They also have something called the Norm Burger which is without hot sauce if your afraid. And this sauce is hot.

  17. Oh yeah Shake Shack is a big joke compared to In N Out, you have to wait in a really long line usually in the cold. NYC has a few better places than Shake Shack, Blue9 and Joe’s in Flushing basically make the same thing but neither are as good as In N Out. Also Tommy’s in LA is something on a whole other level. Shake Shack is ridiculously expensive too.

  18. Do NOT listen to people who tell you to order the In-N-Out burger animal style. A patty fried in mustard, really, is that what you want?

    Order this: double-double with GRILLED onions, 3 slices of cheese. This is the ultimate burger.

  19. You guys want good burgers try Juicy Burger in hollywood my #1 spot for burgers. You will not be disappointed u can customize your burger how ever you want. And also theres one place in L.A Called Hawkins burgers look it up they have the most monstrous burgers around.

  20. You want good Burgers try “juicy burger” in hollywood my #1 Spot for burgers u can customize them however u want fries are really good to. And alson check out a Spot called “Hawkins Burgers” in L.A they make some of the most Monstrous burgers ive seen all Freshly cooked.

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