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Bryan Preston


December 6, 2013 - 9:59 am
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Begun, the Austin burger wars have.

So California-based In-N-Out Burger thinks it can invade Texas and push the indigenous and other national burger chains aside? Is that how it works?

World famous California hamburger chain In-N-Out Burger opened a new location in Round Rock Tuesday.

As the first location in Central Texas, the new In-N-Out will allow customers a much easier way to satisfy their addiction. Larry Sherwood said he’s been hooked on In-N-Out since his first bite in the 90s

”Now I don’t have to fly to L.A. or Dallas to get my In-N-Out fix,” he said.

Karen Brewster-Clanton moved here from California and said she’s been not-so-patiently waiting for In-N-Out ever since.

“I’ve been telling my job, my boss and everybody just, ‘Get ready – you’re going to taste the best burger in town,’” Brewster said.

I don’t know about that. It’s a grandiose claim. Can In-N-Out back it up?

The Austin area is home to some of the best local and national burger chains on the planet. We have everything that everyone else has, and which won’t be discussed here — McDonald’s, Jack in the Box, etc. etc. They’re not part of the burger wars and don’t rate an honorable mention here. They exist.

But we also have Mighty Fine, which always lives up to their name. We have P. Terry’s. They’re both local. We have Braum’s with their combination ice creamery-grocery store-burger joint thing. Well, we don’t have them in Austin, but we have them in Texas. We need them in Austin. We have recent entrant Fire Oak Grill. We have Moonie’s Burger House. We have Hat Creeks, though I have to confess that I haven’t visited one of them yet. That situation will be rectified soon. We have Whataburgers everywhere, and Sonics, which are ubiquitous across Texas and stretch out to fortunate states beyond, but they’re not quite national. We have Five Guys with their beautifully messy burgers and their peanut-oil fries. We have the gourment-treated Smash Burger. And now we have In-N-Out. Let burger lovers rejoice!

I’m a burger veteran. I started enjoying Five Guys back when I lived in Baltimore. I sampled In-N-Out on a trip to PJ Media World Headquarters in Los Angeles a couple of years ago. It was the In-N-Out close to LAX, so no one can claim that I didn’t get the authentic In-N-Out experience. I did. Mighty Fine, P. Terry’s, I’ve had ‘em all. I have my opinions on all of them. I have opinions on really obscure local joints like Burger Bros in Towson, MD. Burger Bros flat out rocks, by the way. I’ve had burgers in Tokyo, on the Champs Elysee in Paris, on Guam, in Alaska, too many places to name. I might have had a burger in Baghdad.

This conflagration in Austin is going to be a major war. In-N-Out is coming into one of the most contested theaters of burger battle in the world. Austin is weird, but it’s not stupid. We have it all here. We know what we like. We know what passes muster and what doesn’t. You can’t sell a weak burger here on brand name alone. We won’t stand for it.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
I'm a busy guy, most work days I'm brown-bagging it.
And with small, picky eaters for kids, we do Chic-fil-a an awful lot when we do go out...

I get to a Five Guys for lunch maybe once every couple months....
Just long enough to forget how BIG the "regular" is...and I order two...

The "holy CRAP, I forgot! " feeling I get when they hand me a 5 pound bag that threatens to rupture through the bottom, is the greatest moment of "food panic" I've ever experienced!

Shock, Dread, Fear, Lust, Shame...Its all there in one stunning moment....and yeah, I finish it all, including the fries!

Every time I go there.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Sorry, but messy isn't desirable. And neither is the crap that comes on a standard 5 guys burger. Drenching everything in peanut oil doesn't help, either.

In-n-Out, for a great burger.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
" I started enjoying Five Guys "


How can anyone like those overated, soggy pieces of trash?

A bun should not be steamed. It should be grilled like texas toast, or fresh and left be.

And the fries, ack!. Archaeologists thousands of years from now will be burning them one by one to light their digs. You can't put enough salt or ketchup on them to cut the grease.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (73)
All Comments   (73)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
How can you not mentione Dan's, Fran's, Huts or Dirtys? Come on!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Lots of complaints here about Five Guys fries. Well, guys, it is not the peanut oil. Peanut oil is by far and away the best oil to cook fries in. Of all the commerical oils on the market peanut oil is the most expensive and has the highest smoking point.

The problem with 5 guys frys is not the recipe, it is the dork working the fry vat. Ideally the oil temp should be 425 to 450 to cook a fry. If it is greasy, it is because the temp is to low.

Of all the in house fry manufacturing places in Austin, I think Mighty Fine does the best job. It is a three step process. Took me 20 years of research to come up with the recipe for my fries (which smoke everyones) but it is more about process than anything else. And you have to be very exacting on every step.

Note to Mighty Fine: Instead of having to scream your order to the cashier, just place the order bags out front and let the customers check off what they want. That, or you need invest in some sound dampening. Your place is just too damn loud.

And Bryan, you should have at least included an honorable mention to Dirtys. Searched far and wide for that kind of spatula the old lady whacked the burgers with. Never found one. Guess it was special made.

All told, I think Mighty Fine has the best deal. Burger, fries, and a drink under 5 bucks. Service is fast, the place is spotless, and the crew is focused on their jobs.

On the Texas culinary scene, a peice on the best Chicken Fried Steak in Texas is in order. There was a place on the South side of Midland 30 years ago called Anita's. Amazing CFS.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I just moved to Austin, TX from California this year. All of the contenders bring something to the table but it's clear to me that IN-N-Out wins hands down.

Naysayers- bear with me for a moment.

Oh, I'll grant that Five Guys makes a stellar burger that can go head to head in a taste test and come out on top just as often or more than a Double-Double. But it's also twice the price.

I'm not saying that it's not worth the price, but that it's a totally different product. If you want a burger that is a meal in and of itself with more toppings than you can find at a pizza joint, then Five Guys is the natural choice.

If you pare down the offerings to a comparable level, IN-N-OUT will win the straight taste test 4 times out of 5 and at half the price.

P Terry's is a completely transparent attempt to duplicate IN-N-OUT here in Austin. It's not even debatable. It's founders won't admit to copying IN-N-OUT but they do claim they only got into the restaurant business after studying what worked and what was wrong with the industry.

What is the result? A menu that is identical to IN-N-OUT's in both style and content, with the addition of bacon & jalapenos as toppings, the choice of chicken instead of beef and a small handful of breakfast items. The composition of the burgers are absolutely identical and the prices are within a few cents of the competition. Even the building facades, interior design, and employee uniforms are reminiscent of IN-N-OUT.

Don't get me wrong, that's not a criticism. I'm ecstatic that they made the choices they did. I'd love it if IN-N-OUT added jalapenos and bacon to their repertoire. The problems come only with a sober comparison. The special sauce is very similar but thinner and weaker, and the meat varies in quality.

Which brings me to the final reason why IN-N-OUT wins. Consistency. I have eaten hundreds of burgers at IN-N-OUT. I've had fewer than 5 burgers that I would consider sub-par.

Whataburger, Five Guys, and PTerrys all have left me disappointed more than one specimen in five.

Unfortunately, Whataburger isn't really a contender. As a new but fervently loyal Texan, I would love it to be the best burger in the world, but it simply is not. It's better than Jack-In-The-Box MOST of the time. The staff is certainly the friendliest of any restaurant I've been too and the service is without equal in the fast food industry. The price is what kills it though. Not good enough to compete with sit down restaurants, not cheap enough to compete with fast food. The amount of money I have to spend to fill up on burgers that struggle to maintain the status of 'above average'... well let's just say I could buy 8 Double Doubles with the total from my last Whataburger receipt for a two-person meal.

For anyone who thinks price shouldn't be a consideration, the debate quickly becomes irrelevant, since Austin has no shortage of gourmet burger options. Mighty Fine and Elevation Burger are decent chains that put out excellent fare. Hell, if you don't mind blowing $15 on burger, go to Hopdoddy Burger bar. It's pretty much incomparable, if you also don't mind waiting an 90 minutes to get in. At least they serve lemon water under the shaded and finely misted patio while you wait.

I can't wait to try the places other Austinites (thanks a million, folks) have listed in the comments:
Hut's, Dan's, Wholly Cow, The Jackalope, Dirty Martins, Casino El Camino,
Top Notch, here I come!

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I went to the new IN-N-OUT a couple of nights ago. The line was...simply astonishing. Especially considering it was 28 degrees out.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Fergit 'em all! If you want a truly great burger, go to Chris Madrid's in San Antonio. BK's Texas Special used to be very good but I haven't had one in some time.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Here is San Diego north county, there is an influx of 5 Guys....mediocre at best. In-n-Out is probably the best fast food burger. The Smash chain is good, but the new favorite here is Habit Burger. Just the smell of the burgers grilling inside the place is enough to tell you that it is a burger worth waiting for. It is now the favorite of everyone in our family.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Been to Five Guys twice. The burger was good, but greasy; the fries were barely edible they were so greasy and soggy. I like the atmosphere and the concept of Five Guys, but can't pull the trigger to go in any more after two bad experiences. I like a crisp fry.

Never had a bad meal at In & Out, but really, they are not competing with a Five Guys or other gourmet burger places. They are fast food, but probably the best fast food you can get.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Your writing about Burgers in Austin, TX and you didn't mention Hut's or Dan's? Better than 5 Guys both. Personally Dan's is my favorite. Long live Dan's!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Whataburger stomps 5Guys into the dirt. Even high-end McDonalds sends the 5Guys slithering out the bathroom window. Fries who cares about the fries? This is a Burger War not a fries war! For the money you'd spend on the guys, if you want a good tasting expensive gourmet burger go for Beck's Prime in Houston --- don't live in Houston? Southwest flies here hourly.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Whataburger has a much better burger than 5 Guys or In-n-Out.

In-n-Out buns are sweet like donuts, while the meat is bland. 5 guys burgers are better than In-n-Out, yet unremarkable. As a true burger guy, I am suspicious of any burger joint whose "claim to fame" is their French fries. I noticed early on that everyone who liked 5 Guys mainly just liked their duffel bag sized French fries. For once and for all, folks: French fries were invented to mask the blandness of bad burgers. You can keep your fried potato garbage, and just give me more meat. If you have to accompany your burger with French fries in order to be happy, you're either no kind of burger guy or the burger sucks.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Five Guys fries are the best short of actual Belgian pommes frites with their wide selection of mayos and other sauces. Their burgers are pretty good, but too spendy for what you get. P.Terry's fries suck, but their burgers are pretty decent. In Austin, I'd rather go to Casino El Camino or The Jackalope on 6th St. for the burger, especially during happy hour, or if I had lots of $$$ to spend on organic grass-fed tastiness I'd spring for Wholly Cow.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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