Food & Drink

Up-N-Down For In-N-Out?

Would you drive to Ridgefield for this exalted burger?

By Rob Smith April 26, 2024

A tray with an In-N-Out burger and fries on a red table, accompanied by a drink with the restaurant's logo.

I was at my favorite burger spot last weekend (more on that later) when the subject of In-N-Out Burger inevitably came up. You’re a rock-residing recluse if you haven’t heard that the ridiculously popular burger joint is considering opening its first location in Washington state.

If it happens — and recent history suggests “if” is truly the right word — you’ll only have to travel 152 miles south to Ridgefield to peruse the chain’s famous “Not So Secret Menu.”

I’ve never been to In-N-Out. And while few will drive almost six hours round-trip just for Kennebec potato French fries or onion-laced patties, I have several friends who insist they’d plan a trip to Portland just for the Double-Double.

In-N-Out in February submitted applications for permits to the city of Ridgefield, a process that could take the better part of a year. The California-based chain also recently announced plans for another Clark County location in east Vancouver. In-N-Out, which operates 417 restaurants in seven states and territories, had previously announced plans to open in a couple Portland suburbs, but scrapped those for reasons that still aren’t completely clear.

I’m in a little bit of a vacuum here, but I’m struck by the breathless media coverage. It’s apparently a source of civic pride: The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver broke the Ridgefield story with a taunting headline: “Clark County lands popular fast-food joint before Portland.” Ouch.

So, is In-N-Out really better than Red Mill? The Swinery in West Seattle? How about Smash That Burger, Ox Burger, Loretta’s Northwesterner, Lil Woody’s Burgers & Shakes, Burgermaster, or even Dick’s Drive-In? Or my favorite, Big Max Burger Co. at the top of Queen Anne?

The closest In-N-Out is in Keizer, just outside of Salem. Though fans shower the chain with resounding praise, even aficionados are unlikely to drive that far.

Check out our Instagram to let us know: What’s your favorite burger in Seattle?

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