Thursday, July 4, 2013

Five Guys

The kids scarfing down their cheeseburgers.

Welcome to the Eating with Jerome and James blog. Jerome is a ten-year-old with a love for cheeseburgers and pot stickers. James is his 32-year-old father, who likes to take him out to eat and write about it. This blog will catalog our culinary adventures as we visit restaurants, give  a little bit of their history, and critique them through the eyes of a father-son duo. Enjoy, give us feedback, and let us know if there are any restaurants you’d like us to review.

Today, Jerome and I visited one of our favorite fast food restaurants: Five Guys. Five Guys is where we go when Jerome’s mother isn’t around. She likes Five Guys too, but she doesn’t share the same love we have for it. For this trip, we were joined by our friend Danielle (aka, “Speedy Peaches”). Danielle skates for the Emerald City Junior Gems’ Reservoir Dolls, a team featuring Eugene, Oregon’s best junior roller derby players. Danielle had never been to Five Guys before, but she was familiar with cheeseburgers and fries.

First, a little history: Five Guys was founded in 1986 in Alexandria County, Virginia by Jerry Murrell. It got its name from the number of males in the Murrell household: Jerry + his four sons = five = Five Guys. In Five Guys’ first fifteen years, they only expanded to five locations, all in the District of Columbia metropolitan area. Then, it exploded. Currently, there are over 1000 Five Guys locations in the US and Canada. In 2010 and 2011, it was the fastest growing chain in the world. On average, five new Five Guys open every week. Basically, Five Guys is the Genghis Khan of restaurant chains.

Five Guys restaurants are distinguishable by their red-and-white checkered d├ęcor. Danielle referred to this as looking like “a hobo pizza place.” The walls are covered with newspaper and magazine clippings singing the Five Guys’ praises. The dining area doubles as storage for the potatoes and peanut oil used for making the French fries. There are also large boxes of peanuts available for snacking while in line.

Even the bathroom is covered with Five Guys' ego trip.
We arrived a little after one on a weekday, and there was no queue. We indulged in the peanuts anyway and tossed our shells on the floor because that’s what we saw people do at a completely different restaurant 2,000 miles away.

Five Guys’ menu is limited as far as general items go: burgers, fries, hot dogs, a vague “veggie sandwich,” and grilled cheese. The variety is in the 250,000 topping combinations.

As far as burgers go, they offer a regular burger and a little burger. The little burger is one patty. The regular is two. Yet, if you order the regular burger, they will still ask if you really want two patties. So, if you are concerned about efficiency, I would recommend specifying “I want a two-patty bacon cheeseburger,” which is precisely what I ordered. I topped mine with lettuce, tomato, (non-grilled (also needs specification)) onions, mayo, and ketchup. Jerome ordered a cheeseburger with pickle (not relish), ketchup, and mustard. Danielle, being an awkward teenager, just got what Jerome ordered.

My burger and thumb.
Five Guys prides itself on giving you hobo fries, those fries that couldn’t quite fit in the container and ended on the bottom of the bag. They specifically add extra fries to the bag on top of the full fry container. So, no matter the size of your party, I recommend only ordering one “Regular” size fry for the group. It was more than enough for us. Five Guys makes their fries from regional potatoes. Our fries were made from potatoes grown in Sugar City, Idaho.

For the three of us at Eugene’s only Five Guys location, our tab looked like this:
  • Bacon Cheeseburger $7.39
  • Cheeseburger $6.49
  • Cheeseburger $6.49
  • Fry $3.29
  • Total: $23.66

This was with all of us drinking water because I’m not some fancy rich guy able to buy sugar water for every kid who comes along.

Every order is made “to go.” As a tree-hugging pinko commie, I’m not a fan of this. To go orders typically create more waste, since you need some disposable devise to transport the food.

Nonetheless, the food was delicious. Five Guys burgers are heavy on grease, yet one can hold the burgers without getting messy. Both kids commented on how nice the pickles were, but I didn’t really care and refused to include it in the review.

To access the hobo fries, I tore off the top-part of the bag to make it shorter. This caused fifteen-year-old Danielle to comment, “It’s like a basket for a hobo.” I told her not to use that word.

Bag o' fries.
How it rates

Overall, Danielle liked Five Guys’ burgers because “it doesn’t taste like McDonalds.” She gave Five Guys a rating of 62 out of 73 stars.

Jerome said, “The burger has a good texture, feels good in my mouth, and is delicious.” He refused to rate Five Guys on a standard 73-star rating system and decided to go with 8.5 stars out of 10.

I give Five Guys 65 out of 73 stars. The bacon on the burger was crisp and abundant. The other toppings were great complements, though I’m not a fan of American cheese, the only cheese they offer. The fries were tasty, and they were able to give me the side of mayo I required for my fries and burger. It is a little bit pricey compared to most fast food fare. But, I always seem to leave with a full stomach.

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