Burger BrouhahaNovember 2, 2009
Who doesn’t love a good burger? Vegetarians, that’s who. Duh. But for those who do, there is a chain in the eastern part of the country whose praises must be sung. It surprises me how many folks still have not tried Five Guys (where Michelle Obama and her kids have been seen eating in DC), so I feel it’s time to revive a review I posted on another journal a couple of years ago.
I’m a California boy, and the standard out there is In N’ Out Burger. If anyone had dared tell me, before the first time I tried Five Guys burgers, that there was a burger joint in this country that rivaled In N’ Out, I would have smote them from the face of the earth, and they would have been smoten.
However – and I realize it’s almost blasphemous to say it – there is a place that is just a slight cut below the almighty In N’ Out. It’s called Five Guys, a chain with most of the restaurants in the Atlantic Coast states, from FL to RI. There are now three in New York’s Capital Region.
Aesthetically, it’s very much like In N’ Out. The coloring is all red and white, the designs on the cups and such are simple…I walked in and the first thing I said was, “Hey, it kind of looks like In N’ Out.” It even smelled similarly. Their menu is very minimal and to the point, but unlike In N’ Out’s offering of only burgers and fries, hot dogs and grilled cheese are options at Five Guys. And unlike In N’ Out, you can get bacon and some funky toppings on your burger, like jalapenos or BBQ sauce or mushrooms. And you can get Cajun seasoning on the fries. And they don’t have shakes. But other than that, it’s just like In N’ Out.
So the big issue would be, of course, the taste. Not an issue, as it turns out. The burger patties are hand-formed, cooked to order, and are juicy and delicious. The one thing, and it’s a small thing, but the one thing that kept us from crowning Five Guys the new burger gods was their buns. They weren’t bad, but In N’ Out’s buns keep them on top. The fries, however, are far superior to In N’ Out’s and are pretty close to, if not the best fries I’ve ever had (skip the Cajun seasoned ones though). They are always fresh, cooked in peanut oil for a great crunch on the outside and velvety soft on the inside. They even have a whiteboard stating the origin of that day’s batch of potatoes. You may have heard that In N’ Out has a “secret menu,” a code of lingo that only those who are “in” know about, like being able to order a carb-less burger, or basically order as many patties and cheese as you want – 4×4, 5×5, etc…and then of course there’s “animal style.” I’ll let you figure that one out on your own. Five Guys, as far as I know, has no secret cryptic language yet, but their distinction between the “little cheeseburger” and “cheeseburger” is not what you’d assume. Be forewarned.
So all in all, they impressed the hell out of this In N’ Out junky. I never thought I’d ever say these words, but when you are craving In N’ Out, this will substitute just fine.