Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Five Guys Burgers & Fries

Five Guys is a national burger-and-fry food chain. I went to their Salem location on Lancaster Drive NE. Five Guys has received several awards throughout the nation, including "Best Burger" in the University Daily Kansan; "The Best $5 Burger a Man Can Eat" (GQ Magazine '09); "Rated #1 Burger for Lunch in NYC" (Time Out New York '08); and ZAGAT Survey rated for ten consecutive years (2001-10).

Another thing at Five Guys: free peanuts!

Free peanuts!
Yup, a lot of free peanuts....
An older male cashier greeted me and asked if I had ever been here before. When I shook my head no, he gave a nice, five-second rundown of their offerings. I went with the little hamburger "all the way" -- but no mayonnaise for $3.59. Basically, "all the way" or "everything" would get you mayo, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, ketchup, and mustard. But again, I told them to 86 the mayo.

As an aside, you can also ask for toppings like relish, fresh onions, jalapeno peppers, green peppers, A-1 sauce, BBQ sauce, or hot sauce on your burger. All toppings and condiments are free!

Little hamburger (one patty) with everything except mayo
It was a pretty good burger, and they filled my order properly (yup, no mayo). While all their beef patties are  cooked well-done, the beef remained quite juicy. But what really made this burger, in my book, was the grilled onions and mushrooms. They brought a new dimension that not all burgers "with the works" will give you. This is not your run-of-the-mill fast-food burger here. Going here and eating this burger after celebrating our great nation's birthday was a kickass idea. Not too many items are more American these days than a hamburger. I like that you can customize your burger in a ton of different ways.

I did have a few concerns. First, I did think that the patty was a bit small -- which is probably why people get the regular-sized burgers that have two of those patties encased inside the bun. Second, at first glance when unwrapping the foil, the bun looked a bit shriveled or slightly crushed due to a little careless handling from the food handlers. Finally, some of the fresher, raw vegetables -- like the lettuce and tomato -- were already losing their freshness due to the numerous warm/hot items surrounding it. The lettuce (just your regular head lettuce) in particular was practically wilted. They could have considered a lettuce like Romaine that has a stronger likelihood of holding up to the heat. I think it's important to keep the cold condiments very cold (I even think ketchup and mustard should be cold, but it won't matter to the vast majority out there) and the hot condiments nice and hot until the very end.

For people who do not want a burger, they also offer hot dogs. At the Lancaster location, a Kosher style dog is $2.99, a cheese dog is $3.79, a bacon dog is $3.79, and a bacon cheese dog is $4.19. Maybe you're a vegetarian? Five Guys offers a veggie sandwich ($2.69), a cheese veggie sandwich ($3.09), and a grilled cheese sandwich ($2.69).

Let's not forget about the fries, coming in regular ($2.89) or large ($3.59) sizes. You can get it "Five-Guys" style or "Cajun" style. I'm not huge on French fries, so unless I return with a friend, I'll pass on those. Five Guys has won awards for their fries as well, so I'm sure they are quite good. They fry the fries in no-cholesterol peanut oil.

My friends told me to check Five Guys out because they thought the burgers were pretty damn good. While I did list my concerns above regarding the burger, I generally agree with my buddies. If I return, I'll probably sample their veggie sandwich next, just to see how they cater to the vegetarian. 7/10

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