Patrons of The Oinkster have certainly not let up after the first round of this week’s specialty fare, as yesterday’s fast-moving, building-engulfing line was back again, twice now filled with joyful and anxious burger heads. Day 2 was dedicated to a true pillar of the West Coast fast food scene: In-N-Out. If you live here you probably love that place, and if not, come visit. You can expect to be greeted by a host who ranks a trip to this staple venue among your immediate to-do’s upon being scooped from the airport. I’m not sure whether to say that In-N-Out represents or creates the fast food quality standard for Southern California, but in either case most locals agree that it is the bar. In-N-Out is about as unorthodox as it gets for restaurants in the price range- boasting happy, well-paid employees, fresh ingredients, and a total lack of interest in being available at every off-ramp and shopping mall on the planet. Perhaps this total opposition to the fast food ethos of say…WackDonald’s is the very thing that earns In-N-Out its respect. That and they just plain make great food.
Paying homage to In-N-Out’s flagship burger (the double double, which refers to double meat and cheese) is not a huge step out for Oinkster as its “Classic Burger,” a regular menu item, appears to have gotten its inspiration from the same formula less all the doubling. Traditionally, both are dressed in cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions, and a healthy smear of thousand island dressing. For the adventurous, and those in the know, “Animal Style” is the move (Piggy Style in the case of Oinkster) which means the onions are grilled, the smear is even healthier, and the patties have mustard applied while they’re being cooked. I have no idea how someone thought to do that for the first time but boy I am glad they did. As was the case with Monday’s Red Castle Sliders, Oinkster did not skimp on the beef. Where as In-N-Out uses two 2 ounce patties, Oinkster’s weigh 4 ounces each, and again the flavor and freshness of the beef becomes more present and enjoyable than in the original version, making the burger more obviously a tribute than an attempt at replication. Another distinguishable difference is that The Oinkster barely toasts their moist and light buns if at all, whereas In-N-Out appears to be in possession of some magical device that only toasts the inside of theirs. The Piggy Style 2×4 was a complete blast to eat not only because the flavors and ingredients were top tier, but because it’s a total mess. Between a half pound of juicy ground beef cooked in mustard, liberally applied thousand island, melted cheese and slippery grilled onions, keeping it together is not only a testament to the burger’s construction but to the skill of the devourer, which I personally celebrated after a job well done.
For the 2nd time in as many days The Oinkster has succeeded admirably in creating a burger fueled by the inspiration of a pioneer. In-N-Out is about as seminal as it gets in the world of California hamburgers and are deserving of such an accolade. There were no shout outs to choice Bible verses on the bottom of my beer cup (yes, I looked), but the meal definitely did not suffer in their absence.