1954 was a wonderful year. The world series was broadcast in color for the first time, J.R.R. Tolkien had just released Lord of The Rings (The Fellowship of the Ring), and the polio vaccine was successfully created. Another of the year’s great events was the opening of Mark’s In & Out in Livingston, Montana (no relation to California’s In n Out Burger). As you drive up to Mark’s In & Out, you are immediately hit with a blast of nostalgia. The neon lights and signs advertising the food, the pleasing red, white, and baby blue of the old-school restaurant, the tile bench surrounding the entire perimeter of the building: Everything about this place screams throwback.
As we stepped up to the ordering stand, we made the decision to keep things simple. We stayed with the classics: two Bodacious Bacon Super Cheese Burgers, Cadillac Fries (Chili-Cheese Fries), Onion Rings, A Strawberry Shake, A Marshmallow Shake, and a Vanilla Ice Cream Sundae. In a restaurant like this, it’s better to keep it simple rather than order something complicated that you are going to end up not liking.
The Bacon Super Cheese Burgers are utterly delicious. The burger is stacked together like a delectable puzzle. First comes the pillowy, porous, supple bun, griddle-heated in burger juices; next, vegetables are piled on — snappy, toothsome onions; juicy tomato slices; and sweet, crunchy, bread & butter pickles. Then come the toppings. This burger is stacked high, the two patties enveloped in oozing, gooey cheddar cheese and wavy bacon. As I sunk my teeth into the smorgasbord of toppings, I felt as though the meal couldn’t get any better. Boy, was I wrong…
After devouring the Bacon Super Cheese Burger, my brother and I started digging into the sides. Although advised against ordering the Cadillac Fries by numerous people of Yelp, I decided to get them anyway. As I dove my fork into the countless layers of crisp, grainy crinkle-cut fries and peppery, hearty chili, I was worried that the Yelpers were going to be right; but as soon as I placed the fork-load into my mouth, I knew they were wrong. The unctuous, oily cheese mixed effortlessly with the chili and seeped into the crinkles and edges of the hot fries.
Onion Rings are fantastic. The golden-brown, crunchy rings are so delectable and flavorful that we happily ate them without any condiments or toppings.
The Strawberry Shake, Marshmallow Shake, and Vanilla Ice Cream Sundae were perfect dishes to enjoy on a hot summer day. Mark’s In & Out uses only Wilcoxson’s Ice Cream (a fabulous ice cream company based right in Livingston, Montana). These shakes were thick, creamy, and intensely sweet. My brother and I could barely drink one without going into sugar shock. My Mom ordered a Vanilla Ice Cream Sundae that came smothered in a hefty layer of rich hot fudge sauce.
Prices are low at Mike’s. Our entire meal, for three people, was no more than $25. I would recommend this old school burger and ice cream joint to anyone in the area. I give it ZZZZV- 4-1/2 Z’s. In other words: Delectable.