How Do I Order The Secret Menu At In-N-Out?

by Mikaela Gilbert-Lurie

There's a certain body of knowledge that you have to acquire as a kid growing up in Southern California. We learn young that there's simply no way to get across the 405 at 5 p.m. on a Friday night (which means you better make friends who live on your side of town, because no, Mom is not about to drive to the Valley just for the sake of your friendship). We understand that wildfires and earthquakes are no big deal, but god help us if it rains. And you can be damn sure that we know how to order the secret menu at In-N-Out.

California has a special relationship with In-N-Out. If you've ever talked to one of us about fast food, we have, undoubtedly, brought up how much better In-N-Out is than anywhere on the East Coast. In fact, I have an ex-boyfriend who used to argue that In-N-Out was the best burger he's ever had anywhere. (Actually he probably still says that. We don't talk much.) In-N-Out isn't just a restaurant; it's a lifestyle. I honestly wouldn't be that surprised to come home one day and find out that we've voted to replace the California Grizzly Bear with Animal Style Fries as our state animal.

I think that one of the things we like best about In-N-Out is that it is relatively best-coast (that's right I said it) specific: You can only get In-N-Out in California, Arizona, Utah, Texas and Nevada. Inevitably, then, when our friends come to visit from out of town,we have to take them to lose their In-N-Out virginities. But like any first time, ordering your first In-N-Out burger can be messy, awkward, and tricky if you're not prepared.

See, ordering at In-N-Out isn't your typical fast-food scenario. One does not simply walk up to the counter and order a hamburger. There's a glossary of terms you need to know. There are rules. There is order. There are Animal Style Fries.

So, I've compiled a handy list of In-N-Out jargon for all the newbs out there who want to order both the regular menu and the secret one without sounding helplessly foreign. Consider it my gift to to the world for getting to spend the first 18 winters of my life in shorts and the beach.

Your Quintessential In-N-Out Glossary:

1. "Double Meat"

OK, we're staring off slow here. Ordering a burger with "double meat" means you want a normal hamburger with two patties instead of one. Bear in mind that a traditional hamburger doesn't come with cheese. So a "double meat" burger is just two patties, lettuce, tomatoes, spread, and onions (if you want them, which you do, but refer to #6 for how you want them). Everyone still with me? Good.

2. "Double Double"

If you read the definition of "Double Meat" and thought, "I want that, but with cheese," what you really want is a "Double Double." This burger is so named because it has double meat and double cheese. So it's really a double cheeseburger (and, of course it comes with the lettuce, tomatoes, spread and onions like the Double Meat. Refer again to #6 for how to deal with the onion situation).

3. "3x3"

The "3x3" is three patties, three pieces of cheese, and all the fixings (you know them at this point, right?). Now, this is important. This burger is not pronounced "Triple Triple." That is not a thing. This is a "Three by Three." Cool? Cool.

4. "4x4"

Again, the "4x4" is four patties, four slices of cheese, and everything else. It is a "Four by Four," and you will sound silly if you order a "Quadruple Quadruple," not only because that's not what this is called, but also because that's just a silly thing to say out loud. Also, a warning: the 4x4 is a lot of food. Even if you're really hungry, it frequently will make more sense, taste-wise, to get a double double, fries, and a shake, than to just get one giant burger. Just something to bear in mind.

5. "Grilled Cheese"

So this is the point in the article where I admit that I haven't had a traditional In-N-Out burger in ten years, because I don't eat beef. Does that make my In-N-Out experience any less magical? Nope. The grilled cheese at In-N-Out comes with two slices of cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, spread, and onions (say it with me, now: see #6 for more about onions), and it's truly delicious.

6. "Regular and Grilled Onions"

Finally, let's talk onions. Every In-N-Out burger you order will come with the option of onions. Of course everything is optional, but the person you're ordering from will specifically ask you if you want onions if you don't mention them one way or another. That's because onions are really important to the In-N-OUt experience. Don't be that guy who doesn't know what he wants onion-wise. Personally, I think the move is to order your burger with both regular and grilled onions. Some people will just do one or the other (if you're going to only do one, I would recommend grilled, especially on the grilled cheese), but I recommend both. If you have an onion problem, of course, you can get it without either (or just like, be an adult and recognize the value of onions); just make sure you specify no onions.

7. "Protein Style"

You can order any of the burgers above "Protein Style" (although I've never heard someone get a 4x4 protein style and now that's all I want), which means that you want it wrapped in lettuce instead of on a bun. The Protein Style option is a totally respectable move, so don't worry about anyone thinking you're being a loser for getting your burger carb-free. This is, after all, the land of kale and hot yoga. We get it.

8. "Animal Style"

There are two things you can get "Animal Style": burgers and fries. Both are great choices. "Animal Style" burgers have mustard grilled directly into the patty, as well as lettuce, tomato, extra spread, pickles (you can get it without pickles, but don't), and grilled onions. Feel free to add normal onions as well. "Animal Style Fries," similarly, are fries covered in cheese, spread, and grilled onions.

9. "Well Done"

"Well done!" is something you could say to while you congratulate yourself for finishing an entire 4x4, but it's also a way you can order your fries at In-N-Out. Ordering your fries "Well Done" means you want them left in the frier a bit longer to really crisp up.

10. "Extra Toast"

If you want your buns toasted a little longer (and who doesn't, am I right ladies?), ask for your burger with "extra toast." They'll leave those fluffy, golden buns on the grill until they're magically crispy on the outside.

11. "Cold Cheese"

Personally, I find this one offensive, and it's only on the list because it felt journalistically unethical to leave it off. If you don't want your cheese melted because you're some kind of devil worshipper, you can ask for "cold cheese," and they'll just put cold slices of American Cheese on your burger. Incidentally, I will hate you if you do this. It's gross and an affront to the entire In-N-Out community.

Images: @kevinv033/Flickr; gcdx, vansgoodeats, urbanshutter_, allanddharmawan, jasminearellora, puddingayu, eating_for_eliza, chan11e, michael.stamper, sikskillz91, thebuenz/ Instagram