Mmmhmm. This is a tasty burger.
That memorable phrase was uttered by Samuel Jackson in the cult classic Pulp Fiction as he was chowing down on a Big Kahuna burger.
There’s a certain stigma for a restaurant having the title of “Best Burger” and rightfully so. Nothing beats a good burger. Nothing. My mouth is watering now just thinking about it. Seriously….. I’m actually drooling. Okay, I’m out of my burger trance….for now.
When I think of the “best burger”, there’s only one that comes to mind. Any guesses?
Let me give you one little hint:
Still not sure? Okay, maybe one more clue:
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, it’s no In-N-Out Burger. If you’ve never been to the blog (shame on you), then you don’t know about my
completely healthy attraction obsession with the West Coast burger ‘chain.
How obsessed? Read this article where I share my undying love for In-N-Out.
When people tell me that they don’t like In-N-Out, I take it personally as if they’re insulting my Filipino mother’s cooking – don’t mess with momma!
I don’t know why exactly. I just know I love it so much and can’t imagine why anybody else wouldn’t love it, too.
Have I mentioned how good it is yet?
A couple years ago I kept hearing about this new burger chain that was a serious contender for best burger. Initially, I thought, “Yeah, right. In their dreams“.
But the talk didn’t go away. This “so called best burger joint” is called Five Guys. Originating out of Virginia in 1986 this burger joint has blown up. They now have over 770 locations in the U.S. and are scheduled to open 200 more in Southern California alone. Yes, they are invading In-N-Out’s backyard.
Let the battle begin.
Coming to Town
Five Guys opened a location in Fairview Heights (suburb of St. Louis) and I should have been eager to try it just to see what it’s all about. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it as I felt like I was cheating on my wife. It just felt wrong. My wife wanted to try it so she took our 3 kids in and ordered while I went next door and got Qdoba (Mexican fast food joint) and brought it inside Five Guys to eat. That was for you In-N-Out. I’ll show them 🙂
I never really knew if I would go back to Five Guys. I was content knowing that know one could dethrone In-N-Out in my mind. Then I happened across the article on the Huffington Post that claimed to a survey by Zagat in 2010, that Five Guys had bested In-N-Out for “best fast food burger”. Recount I say!
If you dig a little deeper into the survey, you’ll see that the survey was not weighted for number of locations and was more based on total reach. This is significant in that Five Guys has almost 3 times more locations. Nonetheless, this was a wake up call for me and I realized that I had avoided the inevitable for too long. It was time to try Five Guys.
My Visit to Five Guys
After a family trip to the St. Louis Zoo, the stage was set. I was finally to give this In-N-Out wannabe a chance to prove themselves. Accompanied with my Canon Rebel and heft appetite, I entered and photographed my experience.
Five Guys Colors
When you first enter a Five Guys restaurant, the first thing that struck me the colors of red and white. Hmmm……wonder where I’ve seen that before. <cough>Copy cat<cough>. There was a brief moment that I felt like it was a dream and that I had mistakenly walked into an In-N-Out and I was getting ready to sink my teeth into a juicy Double-Double. Unfortunately not.
Five Guys Menu
Other similarities are found in their menu. As you can see their main focus is fresh burgers and fries; although they do offer bacon cheeseburgers and “Little” versions of all the burgers. Other noticeable differences were they offered hot dogs. While the cheese dog sounded tempting, I was here for one thing and one thing only: a burger.
Another difference is that they offer a Veggie sandwich and a grilled cheese. While In-N-Out doesn’t have this on their main menu, it can be found on their secret menu. Bet you didn’t know that did you? 😉
The biggest noticeable difference that caught my attention with the menu were the number of toppings that you could add to your burger – 15 in all. According to the Five Guys website, there are over 250,000 ways to order a burger at their place. Now that’s a lot of options.
Personally, I think it’s fluff. A burger is a burger. Meat, cheese, some ketchup will suffice. Now you add some In-N-Out secret sauce and you just added a little bit of heaven.
Five Guys Prices
One noticeable difference with Five Guys was their prices. I’m used to getting 3 cheeseburgers, fries and shake for less than ten bucks. At Five Guys, a double cheeseburger, large fries and a drink was almost $12. I don’t mind paying $5 for a good burger. Don’t mind a bit. I do think $4 and change for large fries is a bit much.
Get Your Peanuts
One coolness factor about Five Guys is that they give you free peanuts to munch on while you wait for your order. Surprisingly the floor was pretty clean with no peanut shells in sight.
Five Guys Propaganda
If there’s one thing about walking into a Five Guys restaurant, they are very proud of themselves. They have signs everywhere touting how great they are. Now I’m not going to fault them for that…..too bad. But the signs are everywhere. Take a look….
And some more…..
They even had signs leading up to the bathroom. Seriously.
Many signs boast “Best Burger”. But it is true?
Let’s find out.
Five Guys Taste Test
After I received my order, it was finally time to sink my teeth and give Five Guys a true taste test. First up, the fries.
One neat thing about Five Guys fries is that you have the option to order regular fries or with Cajun seasoning. I had a chance to try both and much more enjoyed the Cajun seasoning. Overall, though; I was very unimpressed with the fries. I even offered some to my three year old son who will eat McDonald’s fries like crack (seriously), but he took one bit and didn’t want them. For my son to turn down french fries was just as surprising if you offered Charlie Sheen speed and he said no – it just doesn’t happen.
But it did.
Next up the burger.
Five Guys Burgers
When I first took the foil wrapped burger out of the brown paper bag, I wasn’t sure what to think. The presentation was very poor and reminded me of something that I would get at a carnival or something. But you can’t taste presentation, right? It’s time to eat.
Like tasting a fine wine for the first time, I first wanted to enjoy the aroma of the freshly unwrapped burger. See, I’m not going to lie. There’s part of me that wanted to really like this burger over In-N-Out. Why you ask? Easy…..it’s freaking closer to me and I can eat it more often! I only get the luxury of having In-N-Out maybe once a year and; frankly, that is not enough.
So with great anticipation I sunk my teeth into my Five Guys double cheeseburger and, and, and………..
……it’s a burger. Nothing special. Didn’t rock my world. Actually, not even close. All the hype. All the hoopla. At the end of the day I had a $5 burger wrapped in foil that left me very unsatisfied. Here’s my quick video reaction from the experience:
What was even funny about the experience is that the gal that took my order struck a conversation with me because I was taking pictures. She asked if I was a photographer – I guess for all the obsessive pictures I was taking 🙂 I told her that I was actually doing a blog post comparing Five Guys to In-N-Out. What she said next floored me….
She told me that she had a cousin that lives in California and loves to visit them so she can have In-N-Out because she loves them. She went on to tell me that she loved them even better than Five Guys referring to their burgers as, “Ok”. Ha! Even one of their own knows the truth.
What do Others Say?
The whole experience left me bewildered so I decided to hit up some blogging friends on what they thought of the Five Guys vs. In-N-Out debate. Here’s what some others had to say:
My boy Baker from Man Vs. Debt had this to say:
WOW – just today I had In and Out burger… (on my cheat day).
Just a Double Double – I was not impressed at all. Tomato was terrible and I had to take it off. Burger was o.k. but nothing special.
I have 5 guys in the south when we were going through – blew my mind. It was amazing.
The fries at In and Out were TERRIBLE. Neither Courtney, MILLIGAN, or I would eat them. A 3-year-old wouldn’t eat them. Think about that.
I didn’t have the shake either place – but I’d rate Five Guys a 9/10 – nearly perfect experience and taste.
In and Out was like a 5/10. Maybe slightly better than any other fast food joint.
Jeremy from Gen X Finance added:
Srsly. Some of the best burgers I’ve ever had were simply fresh ground beef with some salt and pepper. Kiss them with fire and there’s more flavor than any burger at any restaurant, chain or otherwise.
I’ve eaten a lot of burgers in my day, and my waistline can attest to that. But Five guys, Fudruckers, Fatburger, In N Out, or even the local hole in the wall that has admittedly decent burgers, nothing compares to a simple fresh homemade burger.
The first Five Guys location is close to where we live here in Virginia. No place to sit. Just order your food and get out. One of the best burgers I’ve ever had. And the fries are incredible. We all have a favorites, but I’m surprised to hear such low opinions of Five Guys. Maybe I’m living in a cave, but nothing beats a Five Guys burger. And yes, I’ve had an In N Out burger. I thought it was fine, but nothing special.
Real Men Know Burgers
Wanting to get some more takes on the issue, I also hit up the Art of Manliness forums to see what other men thought about what the best burger was. Here’s were some of the more memorable responses: