During a trip to Las Vegas two weeks ago, I took part in what I have been wanting to do for quite some time, and that is a Taste Test between the West Coast's In N Out and the East Coast's Shake Shack.
I've lived in California for roughly ten years, and have developed quite an affinity for In N Out during my time here. However, New York City has always felt like another home to me, and Shake Shack tastes delicious in its own right. With all of this in mind, there aren't a lot of opportunities in the country to really give these two a try side-by-side, but Las Vegas, Nevada is one of those few places, so I had to finally give it a go.
Knowing I had to pick one up before the other, keeping the temperature of the first chain's meal consistent would be somewhat of a challenge. But, I am also a lot more familiar with what In N Out tastes like at any given moment (on-site versus, eating in the car, versus getting it to go in general & eating it at home), so I decided to pick up their variety first.
In attempt to keep things as fair as humanly possible, I got the same at both locations: a hamburger, no cheese, and an order of fries. I also got ketchup from each place for the fries to be dipped in (note: Shake Shack also had mustard available, but In N Out did not.)
Below are the results of my comprehensive review:
- Shake Shack has a better-tasting bun, whereas In N Out's has a cheaper, "fast food-y" taste.
- Shake Shack's lettuce taste/appears more like a high quality ingredient.
- Shake Shack's meat has a "back yard" flavor, however, In N Out's is less salty.
- In N Out's secret spread tastes better than Shake Shack's spread on their own.
- In N Out has a taste that seems it would be easier to eat repeatedly/often, especially with respect to the fries.
- Shake Shack's fries have more of a texture given they're crinkle-cut, and they taste better with mustard than In N Out's fries. In N Out's ketchup is better-tasting than Shake Shack's ketchup, however.
- In N Out's fries are cut in-sight, whereas I'm not sure where/how Shake Shack preps their fries.
- Shake Shack was roughly 40% more expensive than In N Out.
Shake Shack wins the burger taste test. The fries are somewhat of a toss-up, I believe. I think it comes down to whether you want that Shake Shack's texture or not, and how important ketchup is to you. I don't always eat my fries with ketchup, so I think In N Out wins the fry challenge if we're taking ketchup into account since they have the better ketchup. I also vote for In N Out's fries, especially knowing they're cut there in front of me only moments before I eat them. In N Out tastes less salty, and is also cheaper, so I'm going with In N Out for the overall winner!