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


SHough610 said...

I wish you could have had the doughnuts at my grandparents restaurant in Redwood City, I've never had them that good again (it helps they were made with real sugar and not high fructose corn syrup).

Don't move to Washington, it's a hellhole, it turns into the world's largest urban parking lot at rush hour, the city squats over you, it's like a giant panic attack. It has all the friendliness of the north with the efficiency of the south.

The only thing good I can say about it is that it's only three hours south of Philadelphia.

Aaron C. said...

"It has all the friendliness of the north with the efficiency of the south." gold!

Y'know, I've actually been back there about a half dozen times for work over the past 10 years. I gotta say...I kinda like the Northern Virgina and Rockville, Maryland area.

It's on the extremely short list of places where I'd consider moving, along with the Bay Area and the Pacific Northwest.

Lew B said...

Dude, you do realize all the places on your "short list" are the most expensive places in the U.S.?

What's wrong with Brawley CA or Gila Bend AZ?

Aaron C. said...

I'm a little too "pro-civilization" to make the move to Brawley or Gila Bena.

Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, though? Strong maybe.

Other Joe said...

If you're going by names alone, I had a friend of mine move from Niceville, Florida to Peculiar, Missouri.

And yes the name of the town is Niceville, not Pleasantville, like I heard all throughout high school once that movie came out.

What about a review of Dunkin Donuts new bite size food offering, the sausage pancake bites? Saw a commercial for them and figured that'd be a good blog topic for you.

Shough610 said...

As Lew mentioned, the problems with Rockville and NoVa is that you're paying an exorbitant amount. I know you wouldn't be living in DC but my brother and I paid the same amount for an apartment about four years apart: him in DC and me in Phila. I got a one-bedroom flat with 12 ft ceilings, cable, and heat and he got the equivalent of a studio. And really, I can't bag on the traffic enough. I don't know how bad San Diego is, but DC makes me homicidal AND suicidal.

The other deal-breaker here is the weather. I don't know if you've visited in July or August but it's miserable. 90 with 89% humidity.

And Richmond has a, Uh, well I'll email you about Richmond.

Aaron C. said...

@Other Joe -- Unquestionably, the single worst thing about California? We don't have Dunkin' Donuts out here.

And scene said...

But, to be fair, the major advantage that any of those more expensive places has over Philly is that it's not GODDAMN PHILADELPHIA.

I'm sorry that you haven't been an important city for 200 years, that your biggest sports icons are a bunch of 70s hockey thugs, long dead baseball players, and Ron Jaworski. I'm sorry that your most iconic figure is a fictional boxer who was brain dead before he got punched repeatedly by Dolph Lundgren, and that the only reason anyone has heard of any of your culture or museums is because that guy once ran up some steps. And I'm sorry that the best thing about your location is the relative proximity to New York and Washington, and hey, at least it's not on the same side of the river as Camden.

It's completely a reason to be the evil jerks that you all are though.

Aaron C. said...


that mexican guy said...

Greatest TBG comment ever, Cam? It's on the short list. Let's hope this crazy person sticks around.

I mean...he SO obviously ignored Philadelphia icons DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince.

SHough610 said...

:cracks knuckles: And now it's time to go to work. We're the fifth largest media market in the country, in terms of sports icons you've ignored the last ten years of Phillies and Allen Iverson. I'm not going to list the myriad cultural and entertainment options in the city. Is it New York? Nope, but I'd argue that no city is. But is it better than Washington? Please, that's not even a question.

Also, I grew up in Central Virginia for eighteen years before I spent five in Philadelphia. On the whole, I never met people who were as genuinely kind as the people in Philadelphia. But please, keep perpetuating the stupid media stereotypes about Philadelphians because of things that happened ten, twenty, and forty years ago.

NY Jon said...

As a native New Yorker, I'm glad I can look down my nose at every state equally.

Your bagels/pizzas/buffalo wings/delis/theater SUCK, Wyoming!!!

See? Easy.

And scene said...

I'm not sure anything helps your argument like citing Allen "I'm Too Busy Throwing the Mother of My Children Out of the House Butt-Nekkid to Practice" Iverson and Ryan "Strikes Out More than Aaron at SDSU" Howard as your new era icons. Please name me some other contributions that your city has made.

Do you know why the bottleneck is so bad on I-95 in Delaware up through the Jersey Turnpike? Because every sane person is so desperate to stay away from Philadelphia they are EVEN WILLING TO SPEND THEIR DAY IN DELAWARE AND NEW JERSEY.

Chew on that one for a bit.

SHough610 said...

1) Iverson is one of the most interesting, complex athletes of this generation.
2) Chase Utley, cheesesteaks, Bill Cosby, American Bandstand, Marvin Harrison, David Lynch (went to school and filmed Eraserhead there), and Dr. J.
3) Or it's the fifth largest city in America. A better question is why are people fleeing DC to spend time in Maryland and NoVa