Why is This In-N-Out So Expensive?
Thanks to this post from Midtown Lunch, we were notified of a restaurant in Manhattan called Fresh N Fast, a New York burger joint that touts itself as "a FRESH NEW FACE in the fast food industry. Fresh, all natural beef patties. Fresh hand cut fries, made daily. The only thing frozen is the real ice cream in our shakes!"
Intrigued by this fresh concept, we hopped on the next flight out of LAX to the Big Apple to see how it stacked up against its West Coast counterpart.
Heath Wolfson, a former nightclub promoter and CEO of a chain of tattoo shops, opened up Fresh-N-Fast with the hopes of replicating the success that In-N-Out has in the West Coast. Fresh-N-Fast has the basics down: a Pat LaFrieda blend, Martin's potato buns, fresh ingredients, and a "secret sauce" that's as secret as Fresh-N-Fast is "fresh". The restaurant is located in the Flatiron District and it's a block away from the Madison Square Park Shake Shack, which is known for notoriously long lines (the Upper East Side and Upper West Side locations have much shorter lines). When you enter FNF (abbreviated from Fresh-N-Fast to save space), you'll come to the realization that it's nothing like In-N-Out. No palm trees, no bible verses, cheese fries, and it's so much more expensive!
We ordered a #2 (no double cheeseburger because it was our 7th meal) that came out fairly quickly. The fries tasted like a cross between soggy McDonald's french fries and In-N-Out's "well done" fries. If you look at and compare the pictures of the shake at INO and Fresh-N-Fast, you can see that the shake at FNF is not as creamy and consistent as the INO shake. The Fresh-N-Fast shake was Slim Fast goopy, not Gwyneth Paltrow Goop-y. The burger looked good, but it didn't hold together well. The meat to bun ratio was fine but the veggies took up too much real estate. The cheese wasn't melted, the onions weren't properly caramelized, and while the patty was nicely cooked, the patty was loosely packed (which is not always a bad thing) and it crumbled into rubbery chunks. It wasn't an In-N-Outrage - the burger was not very good, the fries were forgettable and the shake was mediocre at best.
Tempted to stop by the next time you're in NY? I'm not the biggest fan of In-N-Out, but INO is far superior in every aspect. Obviously the prices are going to be higher in NYC but at 12 dollars for the meal with a shake, it was far less satisfying than a trip to Shake Shack (slightly cheaper) or Burger Joint (which is actually more expensive). If you're on a tight schedule, you can always walk across the street to Eataly, Hill Country Chicken for their fried chicken sandwich, Foodparc, or a few blocks down to the Breslin for the lamb burger (we also like EMP).
For East Coast-ers that really want to eat an In-N-Out burger, check out Serious Eats' deconstruction and reconstruction of the Double-Double. Or just come to LA, there's an In-N-Out right next to LAX.