Five Guys

“Willy Wonkas of Burgercraft.”  Sign inside Five Guys, citing as the source of the accolade.

Five Guys Burgers & Fries (photo by MJ Byers)

Eatery:   Five Guys Burgers & Fries, 112 Fulton Street, New York

Five Guys can (arguably) be described as the In-N-Out of the East Coast – same color scheme, same simple, burger-focused menu, same eschewing of freezers – even if the passion felt by the fan base is not quite the same as the West Coast chain.  I’m not sure why this is.  Maybe there is less competition on the West Coast than on the East, maybe it’s because the In-N-Out burgers are a bit prettier than those from Five Guys?  In any event, Five Guys is making a run for it on the left coast, having opened roughly 30 restaurants in California already with another 200 on tap.  So, how will they stack up against the beloved In-N-Out?

Decently, as it turns out.  Five Guys is a bit different in that they explicitly state that their burgers are cooked well-done, whereas it tastes as though In-N-Out shoots for something more in the range of medium to medium well.  Also,  and perhaps more importantly, Five Guys seems to aim to put as much stuff as possible on the burgers as they offer 15 different free toppings.  So, in this spirit, on my visit to Five Guys I ordered my Little Cheeseburger (about 35% fewer calories than a regular cheeseburger, and definitely plenty to eat) with “everything” which means mayonnaise, lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, grilled onion, (which really didn’t seem that grilled to me, and I mean that in a good way), grilled mushrooms, ketchup and mustard.    I’m actually not quite sure why “everything” is 8 toppings instead of all 15.  Perhaps all Five Guys should get together and engage in a little name generation exercise to consider a more accurate way to describe the “everything” option.

Little Cheeseburger with “everything” at Five Guys (photo by MJ Byers)

As I waited for the burger to be prepared, I fretted a bit that the plethora of toppings (say, how about calling “everything” the “plethora”?) would overwhelm the beefiness of the sandwich……the way toppings often do.  Amazingly, that isn’t what happened.  My favored meaty taste was still there, with the toppings working in a lovely harmony to enhance the flavor vs. covering it up.  The downside of all those toppings was more about the experience than the flavor.  Specifically, the burger wasn’t especially attractive to behold.  And, holding it together to eat was tough going.  My advice is not to set the burger down after the first few bites, as picking it up again requires a nifty bit of manual dexterity that, sadly, is not my great gift in this life.   That, though, is a small price to pay for a tasty indulgence.

Price:  Little Cheeseburger with everything, $5.09 (one of the strangest price points I’ve ever seen).

Destination Burger:  Yes and – happily – there are quite a few NYC locations to choose from (9 in Manhattan alone), so no special trip required.

Fat/Calorie Worthy:  Yes.

Optional French Fry Rating:  No fries today.

Today’s Weigh In:  Down another pound….stay tuned.

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