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This International In-N-Out Knockoff Hopes to Play Nice in LA

The brand comes home to roost in Pasadena

A proposed CaliBurger look
A proposed CaliBurger look
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

You may not have previously heard of CaliBurger, but you’re likely already intimately familiar with the company’s product. The internationally-focused burger franchise has actually been around for years, siphoning off the look and feel of In-N-Out in places like China (their first location), Bahrain, Kuwait, and Malaysia. Now they’re coming to the home of the cheeseburger itself: Pasadena.

Just last year, the first U.S. outpost of CaliBurger ended up in the U District in Seattle of all places, rocking a colorful interior and a menu full of Souther California-styled burgers, fries, and shakes. The new actual Southern California location in Pasadena will debut next month at 245 E. Green Street, part of the larger Paseo Colorado shopping complex.

It’ll be interesting to see just how CaliBurger fares, being only miles from the likes of Pie ’N Burger in the spiritual home of the roadside cheeseburger. Local behemoth In-N-Out has actually already had their hackles up about the place for years, after filing a lawsuit against the company for some copyright infringement going on in China a while back. CaliBurger at that time decided to tone down the In-N-Out ripoff motif a little bit, though they still offer quite the sunny, dual palm tree’d vista for visiting diners.

You’ll find the same, ahem, homage cooking all across the menu as well. Animal style fries? Not exactly — CaliBurger calls theirs ‘CaliStyle’. The Double Double? Nope — just a Cali Double (hand-wrapped in paper, of course).

Where CaliBurger apparently truly hopes to stand out is on the tech front, an area which In-N-Out has decidedly stayed away from. Each new CaliBurger offers an interactive digital Fun Wall for customers to play games like Minecraft on, and there are digital ordering kiosks and charging stations inside the restaurant.

For the Pasadena roll-out, the company is actually only accepting early reservations to experience the new location from within their dedicated app. That’s right, unlike the usual out-the-door line you’ll find at In-N-Out, the only way to get into CaliBurger on the day it opens is through an app.

CaliBurger was founded in Santa Monica and can now be found in 12 countries globally, with China their first destination. Their Pasadena location will open sometime in June.

245 E. Green St.
Pasadena, CA