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.
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 ;-)