As my last few days of work came to an end, it was time to head to LAX and pick up my sister, her husband, and my two nieces for our week of vacation together. They arrived on an early evening flight, just as the sun was setting over the iconic Theme Building and the newer, although still modern, control tower.
Our first lunch in LA was at the Southern California icon, In-N-Out Burger. The chain, which dates from 1948, introduced the idea of a drive-through hamburger restaurant. While this may seem like an incredibly pedestrian idea today (pun intended), back in the 40s, carhops served food to customers in their cars. The idea of driving through the restaurant was a perfect fit for the budding car culture that helped define Los Angeles.
While we can debate who has the best hamburgers, something that is a matter of personal taste as much as anything else, In-N-Out provides very high quality burgers and all the ingredients are fresh, never frozen. The company makes their own hamburger patties in-house and potatoes are cut into fries throughout the day at each location.
Nearly every In-N-Out has the same basic layout and cleanliness prevails. This is the only restaurant at which I’ve ever seen employees cleaning the underside of tables.
The kitchen is open, so you can look on as your burger is made. It is organized chaos, a system that is impressive to watch. From what I’ve heard, employees are treated quite well. Minimum wage is $10 an hour and various benefits are offered, unusual for a fast food employer. Service is always friendly and helpful.
Here’s the food itself – a Double Double (two patties, two slices of cheese) with freshly-leafed lettuce, grilled onions, and a slice of tomato. The fries are very different from fries at most restaurants. This is because they have never been frozen and aren’t pre-treated with sugar sprays or anything else like that. Just fresh potatoes, sliced by hand, then plunged into the fryer.
We took the girls to the In-N-Out that is located just off the end of runway 24R at LAX, the perfect place to sit, sip a shake, eat a burger, and watch the jets come roaring in on final approach. An excellent introduction to Los Angeles for first-time visitors!