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In-N-Out on the Way

Choose your side(s): In-N-Out fires opening salvo in Austin Burger Wars

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In-N-Out, neon sign, hamburgers, burgers
All of the hype has led up to this moment, with In-N-Out ready to open up its doors in Central Texas. Photo by Karsten Behrens/Wikipedia
Shake Shack
The East Coast will also be represented soon, when Shake Shack opens up next year. Photo by Shake Shack/ Facebook
P Terrys sign near Barton Creek for ACL Fest
P. Terry's kept many of us going with fuel over two weekends of ACL Fest. Photo courtesy of P. Terry's/Facebook
In-N-Out, neon sign, hamburgers, burgers
Shake Shack
P Terrys sign near Barton Creek for ACL Fest

There’s a storm coming to Austin — one that threatens to tear apart the city and have citizens choosing sides in a conflict over beef patties and buns.

Austin was able to survive the Taco Cannon War of 2013, but now it seems that battle lines have been drawn in the oncoming Burger Wars. What is the opening salvo of the conflict? It could very well be the opening of the first In-N-Out Burger in Central Texas. The new Round Rock location opened its doors on Tuesday morning, and the location off of Airport Boulevard may not be far behind, as reported by Austin Business Journal.

 When looking at the bigger picture, it becomes obvious that Austin could be the site of a long turf war for burger supremacy, with more out-of-town franchises opening up in the near future and local burger chains expanding their reach. 

When looking at the bigger picture, it becomes obvious that Austin could be the site of a long turf war for burger supremacy, with more out-of-town franchises opening up in the near future and local burger chains expanding their reach. If you need help choosing a side, here’s a rundown of just whom you might want to swear your loyalty to and why.

In-N-Out Burger

This is the biggest name to plant its flag in the Austin area, and the hype surrounding it has been unbelievable. The Round Rock location is the first to open, with an Airport Boulevard spot on the horizon and plans for a Cedar Park location also in the works. Fans of this California-based chain are legion, and if the chaos surrounding the openings in Dallas are any indication, you might want to steer clear of the area for a month or so.

Who will raise the banner of the iconic big, yellow arrow? Obviously it will be Golden State expatriates, who will want a taste of home, and any locals who happened to get hooked on their burgers during their road trips to Coachella.

But that might not be the case, as Willa Young pointed out in The Daily Texan. A native Californian, Young notes that In-N-Out will just become a little less special the further it spreads. Imagine if Whataburger ketchup was available in grocery stores across the country, and Texans might better understand why it’s possible to have too much of a good thing.

Want one more reason to support In-N-Out? It is the burger joint cool enough to be mentioned in The Big Lebowski. Not even White Castle is that cool. There’s also that delicious not-so-secret menu. If it’s on the official website, maybe it’s time to retire calling it a secret.

Shake Shack

In-N-Out isn’t the only out-of-state burger place with a crazy cult following, and this rival is making its way to Austin via the East Coast. Shake Shack isn't projected to arrive until late 2014, but that just allows more time for the hype from In-N-Out to die down and for Shake Shack’s to build up (assuming Austinites aren’t burgered out by that point).

Expats from New York will likely throw their full support behind Shake Shack, but why should locals follow their lead? Because these wiseguys are smart enough to open up next to the newly renovated Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar, which will associate the restaurant with a trusted Austin brand when it finally reopens sometime next year.

Choosing between these two could be a simple matter of preferring to hear “Big Poppa,” as opposed to “California Love,” while drinking one of their delicious milkshakes. Hopefully things will stay civil between Shake Shack and In-N-Out.

P. Terry’s

This is one home team that many will rally to support when the Burger Wars get hot. Don’t expect them to be caught off guard when competition comes to town. P. Terry’s will be opening its eighth location in Austin, near US 183 and Oak Knoll Road, very soon.

Aside from the fact that they call Austin home, why should you support these guys? They know how to rock that special sauce, which complements any patty it’s on. They also might just have the most addicting veggie burgers around (if you’re into that sort of stuff). And then there are the awesome specialty shakes they have in rotation, especially the butter pecan. That’s how you wash down a burger and fries. 

Plus, these guys have been there for several years now, helping to keep us fueled through many an ACL Fest.

Dan’s/Fran’s Burgers

It’s important not to forget this other local chain. Those last three choices may be a bit more "gourmet," but Dan’s is the place that really reminds you how simple a burger should be.

The burgers are for those seeking greasy, guilty pleasure, and this establishment might bring over supporters who don’t want to hear anymore about grass-fed such-and-such. Plus, it’s always fun giving friends your own spin on why Fran’s broke off from Dan’s.

Hopdoddy

Hopdoddy burgers are gourmet burgers, pure and simple. Utilizing fresh ingredients to make simple beef patties, Hopdoddy is specially catered toward foodies who wait in line for hours for a meal. That’s the prime demographic for a place with burgers made of bison, lamb and Ahi tuna.

Some may see Hopdoddy as more high-falutin' when compared to other favorites, but their fancy ingredients have been a recipe for success, allowing them to expand to Dallas and Scottsdale, Ariz. When the Burger Wars heat up, they could attract customers who just want a break from simpler fast food fare.

So these are likely the primary factions that will square off through 2014. Will you choose one of them, or perhaps go with another burger joint that is still at only one location? Or will you completely not care at all and go to a different one each week, thanking your lucky stars that you live in a town that has this many good burgers? 

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