Wednesday, October 15, 2008

How to Walk to In-N-Out Burger from the Las Vegas Strip

I talk about food on this blog. I talk about it a lot. This post is no exception. Actually, this post is all about food. Food in the context of a small personal victory. This post was two and a half years in the making.

In May 2006, when we were out at Lake Tahoe for Jennifer's brother Jonas's college graduation, we ate at In-N-Out Burger for the first time. Jonas has spoken of the restaurant in glowing terms, and their brother Jordan seconded the endorsement of Jonas. So when we ate at the In-N-Out in Reno, we quickly agreed with Jordan and Jonas.

In-N-Out is a privately-owned burger chain that exists only in the American West. It has always been owned and run by the same family since its founding in 1948. It has never been a public company, and never franchised. They've also never installed a freezer in their restaurants. Everything comes in the door fresh, the meat, the buns, and the fries come in the restaurant as potatoes. The restaurants are spotless, the employees loyal, cheerful, and well-compensated. So as you can guess, the food's pretty good. The menu consists of four items: hamburger, cheeseburger, double-double, and french fries. You'd think that's simple, but it's not. There is a whole list of customizations to your food, and that's known as "the secret menu." The secret menu items are already laid out on the cashier's terminals, so it's not much of a secret, but you need to know what you want before you come in, as those special upgrades aren't advertised in the store.

There also isn't an In-N-Out burger within 2000+ miles of my house, so the only time I get to return is when I'm traveling to the west. My first chance to return to In-N-Out was September 2007 when I was in Las Vegas for work. Despite my best efforts, I failed to make it to the restaurant. I knew where it was, scoped out the route on Google Earth, figured out the schedule of The Deuce, and headed off on foot on a 100 degree day. Despite my best efforts, I never discovered the Northwest Passage over I-15. I should've taken a taxi, I guess, but it seemed excessive to spend $20 for a $6 meal. I determined that I would take a taxi the next time, if it came to that.

But I was hoping it didn't come to that this year. I'm back in Las Vegas for work again, and I did my homework. I found three In-N-Out restaurants within reasonable walking distance, and definitely within taxi distance. One on the UNLV campus didn't require an Interstate crossing, though it was a three mile trek from the hotel, or a little under two from the Deuce stop. The one I attempted last year was about 0.6 miles from the bus. . .provided I could get over the interstate. I opened Google Earth and Google Maps with street view, and researched the route to see if there was anything I had missed.

And it turns out there was! One thing I saw on the map, and one thing I didn't see until I was on foot today.

First, in the green circle, what are those stripes? A crosswalk! Since there was a crosswalk, there must be a sidewalk. That's a good start.

So with a break at lunchtime, I made my second attempt at the summit. Here's how to do it.

Take The Deuce to the Excalibur
Near the main drawbridge entrance to the casino is an escalator up to the overpass. Take the sidewalk around the escalator,

heading West parallel to W Tropicana Ave.


Once the sidewalk takes you under the on-ramp, you have a choice to make. This is where I screwed up last year. The sidewalk bifurcates, with one path headed West toward the restaurant, and the other heading East.

Take the eastbound (right) sidewalk. That sounds counterintuitive, since it's heading away from the restaurant. It snakes around, up onto the bridge, heading West... the way you want to go. (see the green path in the Google Earth capture above.)

Here's that crosswalk that was visible from space.


From there, it's a piece of cake. Cross I-15 on the bridge, then via lighted crosswalks, cross the on-ramp, Tropicana Ave (headed north), and the on-ramp again (headed East), and you're there!

And now back to the food.

It was noon, and the place was packed. They had a ton of friendly people working, so the line moved quickly.

I ordered a double-double, animal-style, extra toast, with french fries, well-done, and a chocolate shake. You'll need to do your own research on the secret menu to see what that means. $6.39 including tax

Here's what it looks like though.

In-N-Out Meal


Burger of my Dreams

How did it taste? You'll just have to visit In-N-Out for yourself. I don't know if it was that burger I was in love with, or the idea of that burger, but this was a cheeseburger I could be happy with for the rest of my life. And rolling-back the failures of last year's quest made lunch taste all that much better. Now the only question is, do I go again for lunch tomorrow, or wait 'til next year. I think you know the answer ;-)



In-N-Out Burger Las Vegas

26 comments:

Charlene J said...

hey there - found you randomly through the firestarter photo. You have the same name as my high school boyfriend that moved away to North Carolina in the 80s! Your picture of in-n-out burger made me break into drool here at work. Good thing I have a pile of kleenex here for my cold already. I lived in California in the 90s and with all the other amazing food I had out there IN-N-OUT is one of the things I miss the most!

The Roth Family said...

Wow, that's a whole bunch of weird coincidences. I wonder how many fans In-N-Out has who are people who can't get there regularly. Tons, I'd bet. Thanks for reading. -Dave

Dennis said...

Gonna try the walk, but am a bit confused (and cant see this) about this "Cross I-15 on the bridge, then via lighted crosswalks, cross the on-ramp, Tropicana Ave (headed north), and the on-ramp again (headed East), and you're there!" Can you detail? Thank you!!Dennis

The Roth Family said...

It's actually simpler than I made it sound. The last part will make sense when you see it, as you have to walk a little farther to use the crosswalks than you would if you could just cut across some big roads.

Let me know how you made out, and enjoy!

Dennis Caler said...

Cool. In the last major intersection by In-n-Out, it looks like you cross Tropicana (walking north) on the West side of the intersection? Meaning you would actually cross; at the South (walking West), at the West (walking North), and at the North (walking East), sides of this intersection? Thanks again....we will try it!! Dennis

Anonymous said...

That was just confusing Dennis Caler. Just confusing.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this. I'm going to Vegas for the first time in August and I've always wanted to go to an In-N-Out Burger. Looking at google maps I couldn't see any way to walk there, but with your help I will hopefully be able to try it. I'm thinking about trying Fat Burger too, but it is actually on the strip so that should be easier.

Anonymous said...

I printed these directions out and took them to Vegas with me. . thank you so much! They worked out wonderfully. We just never would have figured it out. Thanks again! Susan

The Roth Family said...

Thanks, Susan. Glad it all worked out for you.

Amandanoahh said...

trying to walk today!

The Roth Family said...

Let us know how you made out!

Amandanoahh said...

It went great! I'll go again tomorrow! Thanks so much for the directions! amazing (:

The Roth Family said...

Awesome!

Anonymous said...

Is this a dangerous walk? It looks like it's right on the highway.

The Roth Family said...

It's not a dangerous walk at all. It's all overpasses, sidewalks, and crosswalks the entire way.

Anonymous said...

My buddy came across this. wish we had it in 2009 as we had the same experience and too failed.I love it! We are staying at fremont street this year but next time we're on the strip, look out in and out here we come!!! The freeway crossin wolfpack from Springfield Oregon!!

Anonymous said...

LOL...I wish I had seen this earlier. We tried to walk from Luxor to In and out but failed miserably while we reached NYNY. Will definitely try next time!

Paws said...

Holy crap! This is handy. Wish I had googled "how to walk from the strip to in n out burger" before last weekend (when I was in Vegas).
Thanks!

Anonymous said...

How long did the walk take to get there?

John Evans said...

ha ha, I tried this two years ago and failed. I'm going again this week, all the way from England and I stay at the Luxor! This time I may finally get to try the famous In-n-out burger. My daughter found this, after I told her I could actually see the restaurant from my hotel room window but could not reach it.

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BK said...

How long of a walk is it from Excalibur (minutes/miles)?

BK said...

How long of a walk is it from Excalibur (minutes/miles)?

Dave Roth said...

20 minutes or so, I think.

Anonymous said...

I read that one is opening up on the Strip at the Linq, this fall.

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