Whether the comparison of Nampa's Squeezers to Cali's infamous and lusted after In-N-Out is wanted or not, it's inevitable. And for all you Idaho-dwelling, In-N-Out-loving burger hounds out there, loosen the belt a few notches and be prepared to squeeze one giant burger into that maw.
After a long night of fun and limited sleep, my trusty co-pilot and I set out for Nampa with few clues about the joint and a vague idea of where we were headed. For the non-Nampa savvy crowd, there are two Squeezers locations: one deep in the heart of Nampa on 12th Avenue and a much more direction-friendly strip mall version just off the freeway on Franklin. We headed into the thick of Nampa to the stand-alone restaurant and it quickly became obvious that in the face of extreme hunger my co-pilot was no navigator.
We pulled into the parking lot unscathed, ran for the door and with a glance at the menu ordered just about everything. The choices are simple: beef, chicken, fish or vegetarian. Beef is single, double or kid-sized. Fish and chicken are either slapped between two pieces of bread or huddled together with fries. Those afraid to "squeeze" can weenie out with a grilled ham and cheese sandwich. Not afraid to squeeze or look like compulsive overeaters we ordered a quarter-pound Squeeze with cheese, chicken strips, a fish sandwich, fries, a tasty beverage and a strawberry shake.
As everything is made to order, we took a seat in a smooth booth and began inspecting the surroundings while the worker bees went to task on our meal. The place shines. It's squeaky clean and bright and more like a corner café than a fast food joint. The walls are covered in famous faces and car posters with cool slogans like "Catch a Cuda if you can." We barely had time to take it all in before our food was up--all three trays' worth. And on tray presentation, Squeezers gets bonus points. No plates, no wrapping, no utensils. A tray, a paper, your food. We like it. Less waste, no dishes.
We start with the fries and muse about the oddity that is fry sauce in Idaho. Neither of us can come up with another state in the union that serves up the stuff but we're happy to be in Idaho because the fry sauce at Squeezers was just what the calorie doctor ordered. But the burger refused to be ignored for long. We sliced it in two, grabbed a half and squeeeeezed that monster in our mouths. It was a mutha, but our mandibles were on direct orders from our stomachs not to stop. I attempted to ask my co-pilot for her opinion on the burger. With sauce dripping from all sides of her mouth, she warned me not to bother her until she was done. When she'd finished and licked her fingers clean, we conferred and concluded: it was a damn good burger. The fish sandwich paled next to the burger, but was not to be dismissed entirely. The chicken strips were uber-crunchy and thick with batter. The shake was hand-dipped strawberry ice cream whipped thick enough to require a spoon.
The verdict? We were most impressed by the freshness of the ingredients and the somewhat puzzling fact that despite the food being of the fast food genre, the grease was noticeably AWOL. In a post-lunch chat with owner James Dorsey he explained that freshness is the most important part of Squeezers' food. Freshly baked buns are delivered to the stores every morning. Lettuce, tomatoes and onions are cut fresh all day. (And let me tell you how nice it is to have a burger without slimy, wilted or dried chunks of iceberg.) Dorsey even pays extra for top quality steam-pasteurized beef that's shipped within days of the cow's unfortunate demise (our cow, Dorsey informed us, met its maker only 10 days prior).
Would I drive out to Nampa for Squeezers? Well, it's much closer than a trip to Sac-town for In-N-Out, but for those of you unwilling to make the drive, expect to see a Squeezers in Boise by spring.
--Rachael Daigle has a burger-flippin' sugardaddy.