When I was an angsty teenager in Temecula, I got a job at Burger King. Somewhere in those 2 years, I stopped eating hamburgers. Maybe it was my failed effort to go “vegetarian” late Junior year or maybe it was over-exposure to frozen beef patties. Either way, I just sort of fell off the fast-food burger bandwagon, opting only to eat them from sit-down restaurants or indulge in a cheeseburger from In-n-Out on a rare occasion. Yup, In-n-Out became my one exception to my no fast-food hamburger rule. I admit, they make a pretty darn good burger but I can’t say I ever reached that fanatical level some people seem to have for the place. But they never had any competition in my book as to where to go for a great and cheap classic burger…till now. Enter into the ring Five Guys Burger & Fries. All the way from the East Coast, this franchise is expanding across the States and I have to say, after my first visit, In-n-Out could be facing its first major opponent.
Husband and I decided to try out this place when we saw a sign for it while hitting up IKEA in Carson. I had seen the sign before but never really took notice until a friend mentioned them to me on FB in reply to an In-n-Out comment I had made. Husband thought that a burger sounded good for dinner and made an executive decision. Driving around Southbay Pavilion, it turned out Five Guys was on the other side of the shopping center from where we saw the sign; it’s over by Sears.
I was a little doubtful as the place looked a little empty and it was already 7pm. When I approached the door, I saw a lady walking out with a brown paper bag that had grease stains forming on the bottom. Hrm…cautiously regaining hope… When we walked in, the decor looked very In-n-Out with red and white tiles and a simple menu hanging over the registers. The dining room was about a 1/3 full but it wasn’t exactly a big space.
I looked at the menu; it was divided into Burgers, Little Burgers, Dogs and Sandwiches. Turns out the Burgers are double patties while the Little Burgers are singles. The big difference I saw right off the bat…BACON. Yup, they offer up bacon hamburgers and cheeseburgers. Husband was leaping for joy, figuratively. As for the dogs, you can get a straight up Kosher dog, cheese dog, bacon dog or bacon cheese dog. I did briefly wonder why the rest of the dogs weren’t Kosher…but just for a split second. The sandwiches are the vegetarian options – veggie with or without cheese (not a veggie patty but rather, various vegetable toppings) and grilled cheese.
All burgers are initially plain and there is a list of toppings you can choose from. Mayo, lettuce, ketchup, mustard, grilled or fresh onions, tomatoes, pickles, bbq sauce, jalapeno peppers, grilled mushrooms, relish, A-1 sauce or hot sauce are your choices and none of them cost extra. I opted for a little bacon cheeseburger with bbq sauce, jalapenos, lettuce and tomatoes. Hubby went for a bacon cheeseburger with bbq sauce.
The burger was juicy and flavorful. I love the fact that sesame seed buns were used. The bacon was crispy and the ratio of toppings to burger to bun was spot on. I could taste everything without any one thing overpowering the others…well, until I bit into a jalapeno that was super hot. I ended up picking them out. I really must be losing my spicy tolerance as I get older… I think I’m going to skip the jalapenos next time and do the grilled onions. Yum.
Five Guys offers two sizes of fries done two ways: Five Guys (regular) and Cajun-seasoned. Husband originally ordered a large Cajun-seasoned but the cashier told him that was big enough for 4 people. He went with the regular size. I got a regular order of regular fries which could easily be split between two people. Their fries were natural-cut and cooked in 100% peanut oil. The Cajun seasoning had a little bit of kick to it, really nice! Their regular fries were good too and I munched my bucket down to near empty. I am a french fry fiend!! Husband didn’t fare too well in making a dent in his due to the double-patty burger. He said next time, he’ll get a single so he could fit more fries in his belly. Also, they have a little board next to the fryer that states where the potatoes come from. Kinda of neat!
As for drinks, it’s only fountain drinks, no shakes. That really made me sad. One of the things I look forward to when I’m about to indulge in a greasy burger is a delicious shake. Cuz, you know, if you’re going to be bad, you mind as well be evil. But Five Guys does get points for having cherry Coke…
While we were eating, more people did come in. It seems that the majority of them did to-go orders though. So while the dining room wasn’t crowded, business seems to be going well for Five Guys.
A neat thing to note is that on the receipt taped to the bag, it numbers each burger and the burger wrappers have a sticker put on them with a number so you can tell which burger belongs to who.
In case you were wondering, yes, I was doing a comparison between Five Guys and In-n-Out in my head the entire time I was nomming. I have to say, the burger at Five Guys squeaks ahead because of the sesame bun and the bacon option. I think the burgers here are a little bigger too and have a little bit more flavor. As for fries, Five Guys is way better than In-n-Out. They are cut thicker and were crisper and more cooked thru. Five Guys does lose points with me, though, for not having any shakes. Price-wise, I think the two are comparable. The Little bacon cheeseburger costs $4.69 while the double is $5.59. As for wait time, Five Guys is much better as every single In-n-Out that I have been to or driven by here in LA is always packed inside and out.
I think Five Guys wins over In-n-Out. Is that blasphemy? Please don’t sic the Spanish Inquisition on me… Send it over to Husband. He can’t stand In-n-Out.
4 NOMs for Five Guys!
Five Guys Burger & Fries
20700 Avalon Blvd
Carson, CA 90746