San Antonio has greeted the opening of the city’s first In-n-Out Burger with the glory and attention generally reserved for a Spurs championship win, NIOSA or a papal visit. ‘
The store opened at 10918 Culebra Road on Thursday and has been faced with lengthy lines at both its counter and drive-thru window ever since. After 9 p.m. Friday, the lines were so long that one of the traffic volunteers estimate that the wait for drivers was more than an hour while the foot traffic probably was just under an hour.
“It’s been like that all day,” he said.
What is all the hoopla about? In recent years, In-n-Out Burger has been hailed as breaking the stereotype surrounding how fast-food restaurants are run. The meat is said to have never been frozen, the potatoes are supposed to be peeled on site, and an emphasis is placed on freshness on all levels. All of that is supposed to translate into burger nirvana, which is why Julia Child, who loved the rewards a great burger can provide, was said to have kept a list of In-n-Out Burger locations with her.
But would you wait in line an hour for a chain burger? The crowds didn’t seem to mind; otherwise, they could have left anytime they felt like it.
I’ve waited three hours in line for Franklin Barbecue in Austin, almost two hours for Killen’s Barbecue in Pearland and 90 minutes for Pecan Lodge’s ‘cue in Dallas, and all were worth it. In fact, I can’t tell you how many times I wish I were standing in line at Killen’s for another of their beef ribs. Texas barbecue, in my book, doesn’t get any better.
But I bypassed my chance for an In-n-Out burger Friday night. I had eaten at one in Las Vegas about seven or eight years ago. The memories of that visit, both good and bad, will hold me over until the hysteria dies down and I can see if it’s still the same.
In the meantime, if you’re in the Culebra and Loop 1604 area and want a burger but don’t want to wait in line, you can always go to Red Robin, Carl’s Jr., Steak ‘n Shake or Jim’s. They are all within a stone’s throw of In-n-Out, and all of them looked like they were doing a bustling business on Friday night as well.
Hours are Sunday through Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. and Friday-Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m.