Address: 132-01 14th Avenue, Queens NY 11356 [map]
Phone: 718-767-6500; fax: 718-767-6502
Getting there: LIRR to Flushing Main Street, Q20B bus to 14th Ave. and 130th Street. But really, if you don't live in College Point or have a car, it's a pain.
The short order: D.C. chain's first store in NYC opens in Queens, makes crunchy-crusted burgers that rival Shake Shack's.
Want fries with that? Yes! A resounding yes. As longtime AHT readers know, I'm not the biggest fry guy, but these are definitely worth getting. Freshly cut and twice-fried, they're crisp with a nice, mealy interior. Don't bother getting the "regular" size. Five Guys's M.O. is to put your burger and cup of fries in the bag and then throw in a heaping handful of extra fries on top. The "Cajun" spiced fries are overspiced.
"If your burger blogging crew ever makes it down to the nation's capital, you've GOTTA try Five Guys."
Over the weeks, months, and, now, years that I've been plugging away at AHT, I've probably gotten more emails like this than for any other burger chain. And in all those months, I've never had the occasion to truck down to D.C. Instead, I've watched as the red states on the Five Guys locator map (right) grew in number and up the East Coast. At one point months and months ago, New York lit up red, but that first Empire State Five Guys was in Schenectady—upstate and still not easily accessible for a nondriving city-dwelling burger dude.
So when news hit that a 5G would open in Brooklyn Heights on Montague Street, I was jazzed. Finally, a Five Guys branch I could try that would involve only a quick subway ride. (Word is that the Montague Street Five Guys will open June 2.)
But did you know there's already a Five Guys in New York City? On Wednesday, I consulted the chain's store locator map for the Montague Street number and saw a Queens location. WTF!?! When did THAT open?
I IMed "Hamburger Matty": "We're going ASAP! You with me?"
Of course he was. And I needed his valuable intel on this mission—he'd been to the Philly Five Guys late last year and knew the score.
Half the Fun
Whoever said "getting there is half the fun" must have had a full stomach. If you don't have a car, it's a bit of a chore to get to the Five Guys in the College Point section of Queens. Hopstop.com recommends taking the Long Island Railroad, followed by a 20-stop bus ride.
Matty and I took out a Zipcar instead, and after some mishaps and a few wrong turns, we eventually pulled in to a small recently built strip mall in College Point about a half hour before closing time.
The outer-borough location allows ample room for this Five Guys, and the place was airy, clean, and orderly. All grilling and frying is done in the open in a large space behind the counter. Above the counter is the menu, which lists but a few items: burgers, hot dogs, grilled cheese, and fries (regular or "Cajun" spiced). Hanging from the menu is a sign that would normally send me running: "We Cook All Our Meat WELL-DONE."
Yes, burgers here, unfortunately, are cooked to well-done as per company policy. While this would seemingly result in a dry puck of a burger, ours, while not dripping with juices, were moist enough. The 3.3-ounce patties are packed moderately loose by hand each morning and are cooked atop a griddle, which, along with the coarse grind, makes for a great crunchy crust. The joint gets the cheese-melt just right, too.
A "hamburger" ($4.49) or "cheeseburger" ($5.09) here is by default a double-patty sandwich. If you want a single patty, you'll have to order a "little hamburger" ($3.09) or "little cheeseburger" ($3.69). Bacon is 60¢ extra across the board. All other topping options are provided at no extra cost, but you have to ask for them—otherwise your burger comes naked.
If the College Point location is any indication of what quality will be at the Brooklyn Heights store, I'll be making regular trips to Montague Street.
What's more, the Montague Street and College Point locations will not be alone. According to the owner of the College Point location, Manhattan will get a Five Guys in Midtown, on 55th between Fifth and Sixth avenues, soon to be followed by a location in the Village.
Related: Brooklyn Heights locals debate the merits of Five Guys vs. established neighborhood joints [Brooklyn Heights Blog]