After hearing about the greatness of Five Guys over and over again and possibly being the only burger writer who had never eaten there (yes, I'm full of shame), I finally visited the burger chain for the first time a few weeks ago. If I were really lazy, I'd tell you to read Kevin Pang's review at the Chicago Tribune because my experience was pretty much the same—in a nutshell, the fries are awesome and the burger is alright. But I'm only kind of lazy, so I'll throw up some pretty photos accompanied by commentary.
Being a complete Five Guys newbie, I didn't know that regular burgers came with two patties and little ones came with one, and that I could get as many toppings I wanted for free. Oh my, the possibilities.
I heeded my coworkers' advice and went for a little cheeseburger topped with pickles and grilled onions—nothing too crazy. While I'm sure I could eat a regular double-patty burger against the wishes of my stomach, the single-patty burger was just the right size for me.
Alas, the burger looked better than it tasted (keeping in mind that I was half expecting my mind to explode from delicious after reading so many of Five Guys' accolades). Not that it tasted bad, nor was it dry—my only problem with the patty was that it seemed to be missing something. Like seasoning and sodium. Each bite I took mostly tasted of tart pickles with the melted cheese and grilled onions providing textural contrasts. The soft, slightly chewy griddled bun was great though.
The star of the show was the french fries. I've eaten a lot of fries in my life, but I had never know the full potential of these simple deep fried potato sticks until that moment. All previous knowledge of french fries up to that point meant nothing. Nothing. All future, non-Five Guys french fry-eating experiences are destined to be ruined. I don't know how to describe how perfect that first bite was, through the delicate, salt-studded, crispy crust to the soft innards, but my reaction was probably something like, "Oh my god these fries are made of crack and rainbows and how the hell can fries taste this good oh sweet jesus I'mgonnaeattenmore." Pang's description is much more eloquent: "The fries tip more crispy than crunchy, and the interior has a creamy consistency with assertive potato-ey notes." The potato-ey notes in my fries were from Pasco, Washington, according to the whiteboard by the potato sacks. Thanks, Pasco!
My only problem with the fries is that the regular order is way too much for one person. The cup above is only half of the order while the rest of the fries sat in a paper bag, making me wonder why they bothered with the cup in the first place. Another thing is that one of my coworkers told me that their fries aren't always transcendental; it depends how busy it is when you go. If it's swamped, the fries will probably suffer. Luckily, there weren't many people during my visit.
While I would definitely go back to Five Guys for a reliably tasty burger, the fries are the main draw for me.