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Friday, December 11, 2009

Five Guys Burgers & Fries

There's a law of the internet, Godwin's Law, which states: "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1." In my limited experience in online food and cooking forums something similar applies in that any discussion of regional fast food restaurants will eventually turn into a Five Guys vs. In-N-Out flame war, which is just another variation on the East Coast vs. West Coast rivalry that has raged for decades.

Five Guys, of course, is no longer just an East Coast phenomenon now that franchises are opening in places like west Omaha. There was quite a buzz around the opening and if you take a look at their press page that buzz was well-deserved. Five Guys restaurants don't have freezers. All the burgers are made from fresh, never-frozen ground beef and the fries are prepared from potatoes on-site from the cases of potatoes you can see stacked all over the store. I was on my way home from the airport the Sunday after Thanksgiving and decided to stop in and see what it was all about.

The Five Guys in Omaha is located in the strip mall anchored by Hy-Vee just north of 132nd and Dodge at 697 North 132nd Street. At 1:30 on a Sunday afternoon the place was absolutely packed.

The first thing you see when you enter is the giant box of peanuts in the shell which you're invited to snack on while you wait for your food. An unnecessary gimmick in my opinion but for those who can't even wait 5 or 10 minutes for their food those peanuts must hit the spot.

Ordering should be simple since the menu consists of burgers (regular or little) either plain or with cheese and/or bacon, hot dogs, a veggie sandwich and fries. What complicates the ordering process is the toppings, all of which are free. The toppings include:

* Mayo
* Relish
* Onions
* Lettuce
* Pickles
* Tomatoes
* Grilled Onions
* Grilled Mushrooms
* Ketchup
* Mustard
* Jalapeno Peppers
* Green Peppers
* A-1 Sauce
* Bar-B-Q Sauce
* Hot Sauce

As tempted as I was to create the biggest, sloppiest burger I could I decided to create a "Western" burger instead, ordering a regular bacon cheeseburger with grilled onions, mustard, pickles and Bar-B-Q Sauce, along with a regular order of fries.

The wait was 7 or 8 minutes. You can stand at the counter and watch the workers assemble the burgers which is a pretty impressive process. Nothing sits longer than it takes to add the toppings and bun so your burger is still hot when it goes in the bag without the use of any heat lamps.

Five Guys states that their burgers are cooked well-done AND juicy. My burger was pretty good, nice and beefy, but it wasn't very juicy; a little on the dry side to be honest. I was a little disappointed but the toppings covered up the dryness to a certain extent. The fries were really, really good, nice and crispy and golden with decent seasoning, though I wish they had a size smaller than regular which is enough for two people. One complaint with the the fries is that they put them in a cup so the ones at the bottom get soggy from the condensation. This wasn't a problem in my case since I couldn't eat them all anyway.

People should be aware that the regular-sized burger is a double burger. If you only want one patty, order the "little" burger.

Five Guys' website states they're opening 200 stores in 2010 so I wouldn't be surprised to see one show up in Lincoln this year. I'm sure it would do well though I can think of four or five local places I'd rather go for a burger.


Anonymous Gary said...

I'm intrigued by their fries. I always loved the fries at Steak Escape, which sounds like a similar set-up.

Somehow I missed all the buzz. Just now hearing of this place.

Good to have you posting again!

4:25 PM  
Anonymous Mr. T said...

We're totally on the same page here. I'm a big fan of 5 Guys. I appreciate the fact, however, that as you note - the burgers themselves tend to be a bit on the dry side. They are certainly not what I would consider "juicy". But they are still very good. I also wish that there was a smaller (cheaper) size of fries, since the regular size is definitely enough for 2 people. The fries they dump in your bag is also an extra gimmick, which I can see some people liking if they are into quantity, but I would prefer they not do that so my bag doesn't deteriorate into a greasy mop.

But anyway, I'm not one to look for chewing gum under the table but to celebrate the bounty upon it. 5 Guys IS a great burger place and I wish they would come to Lincoln (which apparently they are according to rumors). I'd think they would do well here.

8:43 AM  

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