Monday, November 15, 2010
TBG Eats: In-N-Out Burger
Current Weight: 171.0 lbs.
"It's all good…from Diego to tha Bay
Your city is tha bomb if your city makin' pay
Throw up a finger if you feel the same way
Dre puttin' it down for Californ-i-a!"
--Dr. Dre, California Love
I was born and raised in Long Beach, California (about 30 minutes south of Los Angeles) and I've spent the last 15 years living in San Diego. I've toyed with the notion of relocation in the past – being actively courted by my company's Washington DC division on more than one occasion – but, unless my hand is forced, I doubt I'll ever leave California. My home state is far from infallible, but its combination of climate, culture and overall vibe is unlike anyplace else.
But, I'll call bullsh*t when I see it.
If you Google "top things to see in California", the very first hit is a site that's compiled "thousands and thousands" of reviews from tourists and visitors of the most famous locations in the state. It highlights roughly a dozen places that scored especially favorably. Now, I don't want to sway any prospective visitors one way or the other, but these are the five most overrated tourist destinations in California.
Magic Mountain -- Every theme park in California plays second fiddle to Disneyland, but there was a time when Magic Mountain's array of "real" roller coasters was the preferred destination for a generation of disaffected teenagers. However, in the late 1990s, cleanliness, security and safety no longer appeared to be park priorities. I've seen rival, umm…"urban youth groups" warily eyeball one another from their respective places in line for a ride, while graffiti and vandalism has become a more frequent occurrence.
Hollywood -- I'll always have a soft spot for Hollywood once the sun goes down. In the year before I moved to San Diego, I spent the kind of time and money in the city's assorted hot spots that belied my secret identity as the assistant manager of an ice cream shoppe at $8.00/hour. If you're going to Hollywood during the day – perhaps to see the Walk of Fame or Grauman's Chinese Theater – enjoy the trash-strewn streets, panhandlers and unofficial public urinals at bus stops, service entrances and in the middle of random intersections.
Pier 39 -- Most of y'all know that San Francisco is my favorite American city. Pier 39 is a great place for kids and maybe first-time tourists. It's also a marked-up tourist trap that's conveniently located in what's already one of the most expensive cities in the country. Of course, I like it for the enormous sporting goods store and homemade doughnut kiosk, but not everyone enjoys Oakland A's officially licensed hodgepodge and bags of sugary cholesterol like I do. Your loss, y'all.
Lombard Street -- It's billed as the "crookedest [sic] street in America". Mrs. Bootleg and I took Jalen there two years ago. His description was more accurate: "Is this all there is?"
San Francisco Cable Cars -- There are a lot of things from the first half of the last century that aren't worthy of revisiting. I wouldn't put "open-air cable cars slowly traversing the city's chilly streets" up there with Jim Crow, but it's certainly falls somewhere within the more lighthearted tier of early African-American hair care products and/or rotary phones.
Longtime readers of mine – or just anyone who's known me for more than a minute – have heard me refer to California's ubiquitous In-N-Out Burger chain as overrated. In-N-Out makes a perfectly respectable burger…it's just not worth a 15-minute drive-thru wait or the touristy pilgrimages from out-of-state (fast) foodies.
I hadn't eaten there in quite some time, when Mrs. Bootleg suggested In-N-Out for dinner not long ago. The moment seemed right to give the famous Double-Double the "TBG Eats" treatment. From In-N-Out's website, the Double-Double is "two 100% pure beef patties, hand-leafed lettuce, tomato, spread, two slices of American cheese and grilled onions stacked high on a freshly baked bun".
The "spread" is just thousand island dressing, but its tanginess helps lift the other flavors, while the generous amount on each burger provides an effective diversion from the usually dry meat.
Grilled onions are optional and if you're a fan, order them over raw onions – the grease n' cheese union can be glorious if you catch the cooks on the right day.
When it all comes together, the end result is solid, but the meat seems to always take a back seat to the toppings. In that regard, In-N-Out is no different than the flavor-of-the-month novelty burgers churned out by the larger chains. My position is sacrilege to most of my fellow Californians.
May God have mercy on my soul.
Grade: 3.5 (out of 5) Calories: 670 Fat: 41g