Saturday, April 30, 2011

Foodie Review: Five Guys Burgers and Fries

Though on the list of the to be avoided sins, I tend to overlook the "thou shall not be gluttonous" request because as my motto goes, life's short-eat a cookie...or a burger in this case.

The buzz around Five Guys Burgers and Fries coming to town has been strong the past few months. They are strategically located near the university, on State College and Chapman, near other greats such as Chipotle, Starbucks, Yogurtland, Panera, and Office Depot of course.

I'm not sure how any Southern Californian could write a review of a new burger joint without the holy grail of burger chains-In 'n Out. A #2 with a lemon-up would probably be present at my last meal. For the record, I did go into Five Guys with an open mind and a starving stomach.

On Friday, April 29, the restaurant held their soft opening, and Scott and I went for dinner. The place was packed. My coworker had gone earlier in the day and by noon they'd already served 100 customers opening at 11 a.m. Needless to say, at 8 p.m. it was still going strong. They were well staffed with very friendly worker bees-the cashier happy to explain the menu, the bussers offering to refill drinks even though it was a self-serve machine.

We both ordered the "little" hamburger variety. For novices like ourselves, the regular is actually a double patty, the little a single. I had the little bacon cheeseburger with sauteed mushrooms and Scott the little bacon hamburger with grilled onions, pickles and mustard. We split an order of Cajun fries and holy mother of junk food-they have Cherry Coke on the fountain. It's my one soda indulgence and I'm glad to add them to the tally (along with Rubio's who offers Vanilla Coke for anyone interested.) While we waited for our order, we snacked on peanuts on the patio outside.

Now about those Cajun fries. I'd snuck a few earlier in the day when my coworker brought some back for the office, and wow-they have some zip. That night, because the portions are large, we split a regular order and could not finish it. They were just too spicy and over powering. Try them, but it will be a regular for us next time.

I had been craving a burger for a week when talk of this chain really began buzzing about their soft opening. And, like In-n-Out, they use the freshest produce and meats-no trans fat, grill in peanut oil, and nothing is ever frozen. You can read more here. Makes me feel a bit better about the burger indulgence.

The first bite-pretty darn good. First words that came to mind-homestyle. Good texture as well-soft bun, crispy bacon, melted cheese, meaty mushrooms, and a well executed burger. Seasonings were subtle and flavor enhancing. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't doing the In-n-Out comparison, because I was. There is such a distinct flavor that has come to be the burger benchmark it can be hard to have the self conversation of "it's ok, it doesn't have to taste that way." And by the way, it's not the spread-not a fan, I have it without.

Back to the burger-it was the perfect size. If you are a burger fiend, try the regular, but the entire meal was satisfying. We spent $14 for the two burgers,and shared fries and soda. Will we go back? Definitely. My overall impressions were that the staff (of nearly 20 on hand) did great with the first day, especially with the speedy delivery even with a packed restaurant. I believe that fresh products prepared with pure cooking methods equates to a truly happy meal.


John said...

Thanks for giving me a new place to try the next I'm up that way.

If you & Scott haven't been there already, for your next burgerquest, try Slaters 50/50 in Anaheim Hills

Twinkle Toes said...

we have one here! but...i still think it's no substitute for INO. and i think they're too pricey, but i've become cheap in my old age. However, were they yum? Yes.