Wednesday, March 18, 2009

BotCon 2009 Option: In-N-Out in Alhambra, CA

When I was compiling the BotCon 2009 Survival Guide, I was specifically looking to focus on places that one could get to within walking distance of the Pasadena Convention Center, giving places that one would need a car to get to lower priority. Naturally, some other fans who have experience in this part of the country had their own ideas of what places people need to know about, and some of those are in the comments section of the original post.

When I provided links to the Guide on some of the main Transformers message boards, a discussion on the TFW2005 Boards immediately mentioned In-N-Out. I didn't include In-N-Out on the list originally because there really isn't one within walking distance of the convention center, and the one in Pasadena itself is pretty much just a drive-thru (Indeed, most older In-N-Out's are drive-thrus, as the name perhaps implies). However, the one in Alhambra is a fairly easy drive south, and could well be worth the trip if inexpensive but high-quality fast food is your thing. Just take Los Robles straight down until you enter Alhambra by crossing Huntington, and you'll see the In-N-Out just on the left. Turn left onto Huntington, and turn an immediate right into the side-street. Take another immediate right into the parking lot shared by In-N-Out and Twohey's, and you're all set.

The highest-priced item on In-N-Out's menu (the "non-secret" one, at any rate... more on that in a moment) is the "Double-Double," which is less than $3. I really don't know any other fast-food restaurants in the area that even have a sandwich for sale in the $2-3 range. Basically, you have your $1 or similarly-priced "value" items, and everything else is above $3. Sometimes well above $3! As it's name implies, the "Double-Double" is two beef patties with two slices of cheese (and other traditional hamburger toppings). If you're not quite so hungry, you can go for either the regular hamburger or the cheeseburger, and pay even less. Fries and drinks are also reasonably priced, so you can easily get a full meal for less than $6. Since everything's made to order, you may have to wait a bit to get your food, but it's totally worth it, especially if you are at a restaurant like the one in Alhambra that offers actual indoor seating.

One aspect of In-N-Out that not everyone knows about is the fact that the chain puts scripture references on most of the paper packaging. This is done fairly innocuously, and I've never heard a complaint from my non-believing friends. It's a nice testimony to the faith of the founders (members of the family still run the company) that doesn't bash one over the head.

A practice I'm a little less enthusiastic about--but which many other people find enjoyable--is the "secret menu." I tend to prefer to see what I can order and, probably more importantly, exactly how much I'll have to pay clearly listed in front of me when I ask for my food. If I had my way, I'd even have all restaurants list their after-tax prices, instead of making me do the math to know how much I'm going to have to pay, but I see little chance of making that happen. On the other hand, the nice thing about In-N-Out's "secret menu" is that you can be pretty sure you'll be able to get the "secret" item at any In-N-Out you go to, provided you know it's there to begin with. A partial list of "secret" items can be found here (sorry, I don't know how much these cost!). One of my former supervisors, who happened to be a vegetarian, ordered the "Grilled Cheese" quite a bit. Perhaps that might appeal to those of you who, reading this but not intending to wait until BotCon to go give In-N-Out a try, aren't eating meat during Lent (or on Fridays). Of course, In-N-Out might get a few more of those Lenten observers if the item wasn't a "secret"!

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