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Let's eat.

From Big Sur's killer cliff-clinging eateries to Salinas' unparalleled produce, this blog aims to sniff out all things Monterey County can stomach, via picture and prose, curiosity and appetite, hand and mouth.

Monday, July 12, 2010

In N Out Off Menu Moment

Rather than spend my energy penetrating one of the most intricate mysteries of the food universe—why In N Out employees are so damn happy—I’d rather direct it toward what unknown plunder lies off the In N Out (800-786-1000) menu. At least beyond the fabled “4 by 4.” (For the uninformed, that’s like a double Double Double, with four patties and four pieces of cheese; “teenagers and athletes like to order those,” one typically estactic employ told me.)

Before I started quizzing the smiley kid in the little white paper hat—somehow, the normal centipede line had evaporated to allow me to do so without holding it up—I had prior knowledge of the 4X4, the 3X3, and often ordered half-strawberry/half-chocolate shakes, animal style fries (despite the spendy-by-comparison $3.20 tag) and grilled cheese (with grilled onions).

So the young guy looked a little deflated when I asked for more off-the-radar riches besides the first few he rattled off. But then came some fun ones, like a shake that takes my strawberry-chocolate play a step further, a triple flavor treat they fittingly call the Neopolitan, and the flying Dutchman, two patties and two pieces of cheese, no bun. He also mentioned the rootbeer float.

You can customize burgers and buns in ways most are unaware of. Burgers can be mustard grilled, given chopped cascabella peppers on the bottom or layered with extra tomatoes, lettuce or onion for no charge; buns can be extra toasted, lightly toasted or untoasted—or swapped out for a lettuce sheaf in the "protein" version popular among Atkins freaks. Fries can be had well-done/extra crispy, "light well" and "light," salt-free and with just cheese.

Remember to ask for some piping little yellow cascabellas.

Salinas curently hosts the county's only outpost; word that the western chain might set up an outpost in Seaside generated as many Weekly reader comments as any recent food news.

The latest on that front: Seaside redevelopment manager Richard Glenn told me "we're still working though the process." Since it's in the coastal zone additional scrutiny will be paid by the Coastal Commission.

Environmental impact reports are planned to take a look at the issues, particularly traffic-related, of putting an In N Out at 1350 Del Monte Blvd.

"We haven't gotten any negative feedback," he says, "but it's a long process."

He says the soonest animal style advocates can plan on hearing that there's a project is mid 2011, which would also mark the start of construction.