13 Reasons In-N-Out Is Ridiculously Overrated

Are the fries really a waste of potatoes?

in n out burger restaurant sign
Updated July 18, 2024
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Anyone who’s tried In-N-Out Burger seems to love it. The late Anthony Bourdain called it the best burger restaurant in Los Angeles.

Since the first store’s opening in Baldwin Park (Los Angeles), California, in 1948, a cult-like following has emerged. And while a stop at your local In-N-Out certainly won't help you save on groceries, sometimes a hot burger just can’t be beat.

But not all hamburger aficionados love it. One critic on Thrillist even dubbed In-N-Out as “the most overrated burger in America.” So whether you love it or hate it, here are some reasons why some diners say In-N-Out is ridiculously overrated.

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Brand aura is better than the food

jason/Adobe fast food burger and fries

Or so say many diners on Reddit. The hamburger chain has a bright, white sparkly vibe — similar to Chick-fil-A. But where the chicken chain has a contemporary feel, In-N-Out boasts a more traditional, 1950s ambiance. People love the mid-century Americana vibe with the red and white booths, crisp white aprons, and cooks’ paper hats.

Long lines

Tada Images/Adobe orders on the counter

If you’re dining out at In-N-Out Burger, bring a book. The lines are long. And the drive-thru is even worse, with longer lines snaking through the parking lot and often backing out onto the street.

Inconsistent quality

Walter Cicchetti/Adobe in-n-out burger

The quality is inconsistent. I’ve dined five times at In-N-Out, and the fries were crisp and hot on just three of those visits — only 60% of the time. On the other visits, the fries were sadly wilting.

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Try it

“Their fries are a waste of potatoes”

Tada Images/Adobe double double sandwich

While I disagree, many diners on Reddit hate In-N-Out’s french fries. The digital pitchforks are out, calling the fries “oily,” “gross,” “horrendous,” and “a culinary nightmare” for which “they should be held accountable.”

Five Guys is way better

MelissaMN/Adobe five guys fast food restaraunt

Some diners on Reddit claim that Five Guys is “wayyyy better” than In-N-Out. It’s a matter of preference — with more than a small dose of regional pride.

And although Five Guys is a similarly delicious burger, it costs significantly more. In the Minneapolis, Minnesota market, a single burger is $9.79. An In-N-Out Burger is usually around $4 or less, or even $3.15 in some markets.

Other fast-food joints have fresh meat too

Bruno Coelho/Adobe in n out burger sign

In-N-Out Burger is proud of its fresh beef, but it’s not the only joint selling fresh-meat sandwiches. Other fast food chains serving never-frozen beef patties include Culver’s, Wendy’s, Smashburger, and The Habit Burger Grill.

“It’s just regional puffery”

Adriana/Adobe in n out hamburgers sign

Many diners on Reddit claim that In-N-Out-Burger isn’t deserving of all the hype, claiming it’s just regional bias. Those who live back East, where the chain doesn’t operate, seem particularly underwhelmed.

One Reddit diner comments the chain is “just a ploy to piss off East Coasters.” Another observes the chain’s exclusivity makes it seem more “idealized” as a restaurant from a “sun-filled land of paradise.”

“It’s just nostalgia”

Tada Images/Adobe cheeseburgers and fries

Absence makes the heart grow hungrier,” claims one Reddit diner. They observe that In-Out-Burger is “a nostalgia thing for people who moved out of an area [that] had one.”

Animal style is a “gimmicky hack”

Walter Cicchetti/Adobe double burger and french fries

In-N-Out Burger loyalists love ordering off-menu, requesting their burger “animal style.” This secret menu option gives the brand mystique, but one diner on Resetera.com comments, “Animal style is a dumbass gimmicky hack.”

Animal style means getting your order loaded with extra pickles, onions, and a special sauce, which might not be so special: it’s Thousand Island dressing.

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In-N-Out is a Republican hamburger joint

ShutterFalcon/Adobe in n out burger inc

Some disheartened diners claim In-N-Out Burger is a “Republican hamburger joint.” The chain has made multiple political donations to the GOP, leading the California Democratic Party to stage an unsuccessful boycott.

Perhaps it failed because the fast-food chain has also made contributions to several Democratic-affiliated committees. In-N-Out has developed a strong reputation for being a good employer that supports fair wages.

And really, American diners can overlook a lot if you turn out a juicy burger.

Burgers have antibiotics

Eric BVD/Adobe double burgers animal style

Serving food with antibiotics is controversial, and In-N-Out’s beef patties come loaded with them. While many restaurants are publicly transitioning to antibiotic-free food, not all intend to. Smashburger and Five Guys, two of the chain’s closest competitors, have not committed to any such change.

Additionally, while many restaurants make lofty claims about food quality, in a study of 25 fast-food chains, only two restaurants received passing grades for being free of antibiotics.

It’s best enjoyed sparingly

JHVEPhoto/Adobe in n out burger in irving

In-N-Out Burger is tasty food, but don’t overindulge. One fan on Reddit claimed, “If you eat it once in a blue moon, it’s pretty good, but if it’s your local [joint], it would quickly lose its luster.”

The food wrappers have Scripture on them

Walter Cicchetti/Adobe An In-and-Out burger

Personally, I like my hamburgers irreligious. I don’t want to feel like I’m eating anything deified or divine. The guilt of eating a murdered cow is enough. And some diners see the Bible verses as the company’s way of literally ramming Christianity down your throat.

However, other businesses quietly print Bible verses on their packaging too. And in the words of In-N-Out’s owner and president, Lynsi Snyder, “It’s a family business and will always be, and that’s a family touch."

Bottom line

Mustard Assets/Adobe neon in n out burger sign at night

Love them or loathe them, In-N-Out Burger makes some good burgers and fries — if the order is turned out fresh and hasn’t wilted under heat lamps.

Notorious food nitpicks — Gordon Ramsey, Julia Child, and David Chang — are all major devotees. The Michelin-star chef Julia Child, even kept a map in her purse of all the In-N-Out Burger locations between Los Angeles and her house in Santa Barbara. So, one might argue the food chain is, if anything, ridiculously underrated — even if most of us aren’t getting the celeb treatment when we dine there.

If you live on the West Coast or are planning to travel there, let your stomach be your guide.

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Author Details

Stacy Garrels

Stacy enjoys writing about fintech, consumer deals, the side hustle economy, and random tomfoolery. She's personally tried more than 100 different gigs, including being an Uber driver for one afternoon.