June 22nd, 2010

The Great Fast Food Debate: In-N-Out vs. Whataburger

It’s no secret that I love burgers. Growing up, my dad’s favorite meal was a burger and we had at least one night a week where our family enjoyed burgers for dinner. I have them in my DNA. With the news that In-N-Out is setting up shop in Dallas there have been a whole lot of people debating over which chain restaurant has a better burger, Whataburger or In-N-Out? Me, I’m on the fence, as I like both places, but I’ve taken a little time to write out a few things at each place that I am not a fan of.

The different tastes for the different styles of burgers varies greatly from person to person so I will preface this whole debate with what I enjoy; A nice char on a not too thick patty, preferably cooked to medium rare. The toppings on my burgers can be anything except ketchup and mayonnaise. I have no preference on the bun type, though I do enjoy when they toast it.

Just from that above description, you can see why I am drawn to Whataburger. Whataburger toasts their buns, almost every burger comes with mustard unless you ask for something different and they do get a nice char on the patty itself. In-N-Out is no slouch to me either, in fact, I really like their burgers. They cook the meat a little better than Whataburger but there are quirks that kind of get to me. For one, the sauce is on the bottom of the burger along with the tomato and lettuce (if you don’t exclude them from your order). This is just strange to someone who is used to having mustard on the top bun. Granted, the flavors the sauce gives off may not be changed by the fact that it’s on the bottom, but it is a curious place for sauce. The other thing that troubles me about In-N-Out is the meat patty’s texture. It’s not that it feels off or bad, it is just different than what I am used to eating and what is even more strange is that it hasn’t been that way at every location. I do enjoy a visit to In-N-Out every time I am in California and wish there was one in Houston to satisfy my cravings for their spread.


This is not to say that Whataburger is without flaw. They are notorious for smashing the top bun down onto the rest of the toppings, leaving you with a flat, soggy mess. Whataburger, in my opinion, also has an issue with its bacon. It is way too crispy when compared to the rest of the burger and the eater is usually left with a bunch of bacon-bits after taking the first bite. Lastly, Whataburger is usually consistent in their ability to get food to customers while it is still hot, but there have been a few times where it’s come out stone cold. Whataburger fills a niche spot for me. They are great when I’m on the road and there is not a DQ anywhere in sight and I need a burger, Dr. Pepper, and some hot fries.

I think everyone has their preference, for instance, Paul has an unhealthy obsession with McDonald’s which, in and of itself is inexcusable, but he’s Pauldo and we let it slide (for now). In all honesty, both In-N-Out and Whataburger make good burgers that will do in a pinch, but when I’m looking for a really tasty burger, I’ll make the drive to Christian’s Totem, Hubcap Grill, Lankford Grocery, Sam’s Deli Diner or Sparkle’s Hamburger Spot before giving any chain a second thought.

Where do you stand, Loopsters?

— Stephan


J.R. Cohen — Tuesday, June 22, 2010 6:37 pm

Lankford’s always hits the spot. That place has never done me wrong. When I worked in the Third Ward, I use to go to Sparkle’s. So many great local places doing great burgers. I’d go to Whataburger before I’d go to in-and-out.

Mike SNow — Tuesday, June 22, 2010 9:49 pm

In-Out kicks Whataburger to the curb, much better, fresher ingredients. When one opened in Tucson, there were drive thru lines with 30 minute waits all day, every day for the first 3 months. Never saw a whataburger with that kind of wait.

Best burger I have ever had – Ball’s Hamburgers in Dallas. It’s at Midway & NW highway, in the shopping center with Kroger. Next time you are there go try it. Still the best, although not as good as it was 5 years ago under previous ownership. Also great milkshakes.

T-Rav — Thursday, September 2, 2010 11:02 am

I moved out of Texas a while back, and have gotten used to burgers up north. For a cheap burger I hit Corner Bistro and for a great burger I hit Minetta Tavern. That said, I really, really miss Whataburger…

Ronnie — Friday, July 29, 2011 1:36 am

Never seen a whataburger with a 30 minute wait?! LOL try driving by one at 2am it’s packed every weekend!

H.J.D. — Tuesday, December 11, 2012 1:19 am

Whataburger is known for its fresh ingredients and family style restaurant dining. Whataburger is a true Texas company and ultimately In-n-Out is a fad. With all due respect to In-N-Out.
The company has in recent months stepped up their game on bacon and as far as I know, in no where in the training manaul does it say we “smash the top bun down”. Email me for some training clarifications to better this article, we’d love to talk with you. -h

JSK — Friday, March 22, 2013 4:32 pm

In-N-Out has been around for 65 years so I’d hardly cal it a fad… I expect to try my first Whataburger this evening.

Henry — Thursday, September 5, 2013 2:14 pm

There is No Way on earth that this place called Whataburger can even come close to In-N-Out where burgers, fries are always fresh. You can watch them cut the fries before your eyes, the buns are made fresh daily. All ingrediants are freshly made that day. I was at Whataburger which sounds like waterburger when a texan says it and it’s so funny to hear them say that name. IN-N-OUT WINS OUT EASILY OVER THE WATERBURGER. Their menu is to much, slow service etc. Always big lines at IN-N-OUT!!! Not worth comparing.

Aquaria TX — Thursday, April 10, 2014 5:58 pm

In n Out is overrated garbage. The meat is cheap and nasty, and tastes like it. The only people who like it are people with malfunctioning taste buds, which pretty much sums up Californians.

Jason — Monday, December 1, 2014 3:35 am

“Meat is cheap”? LOL you have no idea what your talking about. In-n-Out meat is NEVER frozen unlike EVER other burger joint. Its of the highest quality they can get and they dont run cheap.

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