Thursday, February 18, 2010

Burgers and fries, that's about it.

When you do something well, why do anything else, right? While I don't buy into that school of thought, the people over at Five Guys Burgers and Fries certainly do, and they have made it their mantra. What they do is burgers and fries, and nothing else. Well almost nothing else; you can also order a hot dog with or without cheese or bacon, or cheese and bacon. Okay, so this place isn't serving up a healthy dose of good for you, but damn if they don't do burgers and fries really well; that is, they only cook their burgers well done. It's their policy and they don't stray from it, but they believe that by cooking their burgers well done every time, they are ensuring a consistent product and in their eyes, the juiciest, tastiest burger they can make.

Waiting in Line at Five Guys

Five Guys Burgers and Fries

Here's a little history list on the franchise before I get to the good stuff. The first Five Guys opened in Arlington, VA back in 1986 and growth at the beginning was slow. Over the next 15 years, five more Five Guys opened in the Washington, DC area. While they worked on perfecting their burgers they also began developing a cult following. Since then, Five Guys has opened over 450 franchises in 30 states and claims that there are over 250,000 ways to order one of their burgers. Only fresh ground beef is used, never frozen, and all of their french fries are hand cut daily from hundreds of pounds of fresh potatoes that can be seen in sacks taking up space around the restaurant. Sounds a little like In 'N Out Burger, without the drive-through.

Potatoes at Five Guys

With over 250,000 burger combinations, ordering is actually quite simple. You have the hamburger and the cheeseburger, with or without bacon. It is important to note that both the hamburger and cheeseburger on the menu come with two burger patties; if you want a single, order the little hamburger or the little cheeseburger, also available with or without bacon. Once you have your basic burger order, it's time to go crazy with the toppings. You have your choice of mayo, relish, onions, lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, ketchup, mustard, jalapenos, green peppers, A-1 sauce, bar-b-q sauce, and hot sauce. Add a regular fries (big) or a large fries (huge) in either Five Guys style (salt and pepper blend) or Cajun style.

On my visit to Five Guys with J, we were unaware of the regular (double) vs. little (single) size so we both ordered regular burgers; mine with cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, grilled onions, ketchup and mustard, and J's with lettuce, tomato, pickles, grilled onions and ketchup - no cheese. We also split a regular fries, which is actually quite large. Yes, this burger was good and the fries were crispy and well seasoned. However I am not much of a fast food guy so this greasy burger left me feeling sluggish after; we're talking serious food coma.

Yes, the veggies were fresh, the burger was juicy, and the fries were good, but the caloric count of my meal based on the nutritional information found on Five Guys web site was nearly 1300 calories! What a gut bomb. I'm not a calorie counter, never have been, never will be. I also don't watch what I eat too closely. I exercise regularly, I'm relatively fit, and I eat what I want within reason. But I usually stick to healthy foods that are either good for me or make me feel good; and this meal was neither. I'm not saying Five Guys isn't good, quite the contrary, Five Guys is quite good at what they do. If you like these fast food style burgers then you are not going to find anyone within 10 miles of a Five Guys that does what they do better.

I say go to Five Guys, order a burger (a little burger if you do have a big appetite) and some fries and form your own opinion. At the very least you'll probably have a pretty darn good meal for short change.

Order Up at Five Guys

Cheeseburger at Five Guys

Regular Fries at Five Guys

Oh yeah, one more thing. All burgers are made to order so while you're waiting, enjoy some free peanuts, they're pretty good.

Peanuts at Five Guys


  1. OK, we don't have any Five Guys out where I am in California, but I remember seeing the President go get one during an NBC special and then thing I remembered was how you could see the grease coming through the brown paper bag. So I could already tell this place isn't really for me because I'm not a lover of the grease. That's probably how they make their well done burgers moist, by drowning it in grease. Thanks for taking one for the gang and trying it out for us!

  2. Hi Ben, I agree about the grease. They fry the burgers on a flattop grill, so they basically cook in their own fat. I'll admit the burgers were good, I'd say about as good as a fast food burger can get in the Northeast (still love In 'n Out Burger) but they are just not my preferred food.

  3. Five Guys is heavenly. I had a double bacon cheeseburger, yum! They do give you tons of fries, which needed some salt, but they were good too. I will definately go back! Thank you S for your brother's suggestion!

  4. Hi Sarabeth, glad you enjoyed Five Guys. I probably won't be back for quite a while, like I said, the burgers are greasy, good, but greasy. Not my kind of food but clearly people love this stuff, they're doing great.