Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Five Guys Burgers & Fries

I tried the fare at Five Guys Burgers in the Quarry Market again yesterday. I had been there once before and found it good, but not great, and wanted to give the place another chance to live up to the high expectations generated by a number of favorable reviews in both the local daily rag and the weekly throwaway. Plus, having recently been in the Washington DC suburbs, the sheer numbers of Five Guys locations had burned the name into my subconscious, where it whispered to me confused notions about the link between success and quality.

I can't fault the quality of the burger. Everything that was supposed to be soft was soft; everything that was supposed to be crisp was crisp. Everything that was supposed to be tasty, was tasty.
What does that mean?

The place is arranged in a traditional storefront way. Wooden tables for four, all just a wee bit too close together, occupy the front of the space, with an aisle between that leads to the counter. A menu board hangs above two cash registers; the kitchen bustles behind that. I was dismayed at the line waiting to order when I arrived, but it moved quickly.

I was less impressed with the prices. A regular burger ("regular" is the new "small"), regular order of fries, and regular drink was just over ten dollars -- not an awful lot in absolute dollars, but it seemed about fifteen percent more than it should have been. (I notice that, on Urbanspoon, two locations are rated at $, while this location in the upscale Quarry Market is rated $$; maybe Five Guys is like HEB, & charges different prices at different locations.) The price includes free refills on drinks ... if you can get to the dispensers.

Two drinks dispensers stand against the wall near the counter. They seemed to be The spot for teenagers and young children to loll about, chatting on cellphones and testing first one, then another flavor of soda. Gradually they were reminded of the world about them, and moved off to tables, giving the grown-ups the chance to pour drinks. Some minor inconvenience attended the fact that some flavors of drink were available in one dispenser, but not the other. This occasioned that dance you do when one dispenser is available, but it's not the one the person in front of you wants. But the trade-off is that there are more flavors available, and all in all I'd say it's a worthwhile trade.

While you wait for your order, you can treat yourself to roasted peanuts from large boxes placed around the dining room. (The boxes are labelled with the advice that "because of the danger of allergic reactions," peanuts are not to be removed from the shop. What hogwash. It's because they don't want you carting off all their peanuts. Understandable, but it makes me wonder that we accept such bald-faced lies in our lives without comment; especially at airport "security.") The tradition in places that give away knosh peanuts is that you toss the shells on the floor. That gives the place a down-home kind of feel, but (a) we modern Americans are just a tad too well-brought-up to make an intentional mess like that in somebody else's place, and (b) the smooth floor is too slick to have peanut shells lying around on it. If they're going to do the peanut thing, they should have a floor that won't turn into an ice rink when somebody walks on the shells.

Despite the number of people ahead of me in line, the orders were cranked out at good speed, and I didn't have to wait long to get my food. The burger, as I implied above, was very good; maybe not Fatty's-good, but close. The fries, however, were another story.

The regular (small) order proved to be about twice as many fries as I would have wanted, and about three times as many as I would have expected, but for the price. Five Guys makes a point of the fact that they use only peanut oil in-house; I think they might want to rethink that. The fries were greasy and limp, and the peanut oil imparts a taste that, while not unpleasant, is unappealing. It made me less regretful about throwing half my order away.

The one other thing worth mentioning is the noise. Every surface in the place is designed to reflect sound, so this small glass-fronted burger shop is as loud as Rosario's at lunch on Friday in Lent.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries on Urbanspoon


  1. AnonymousJune 25, 2010

    A regular burger is not a small burger at Five Guys. Did you look inside the bun? A regular burger has two 3.5 ounce patties inside. The "little" burgers contain once 3.5 ounce patty.

  2. I did look. I don't remember what was in there. But "regular" was the smallest size on the menu.

    My point is that, these days, restaurants prefer other nomenclature than "small, medium, large" to describe the sizes they offer; viz. Starbucks's famous "tall, vente, grande." Eventually all such rubrics will be meaningless, and we'll have to go back to "small, medium, large."

  3. Damn youre wordy! Just because you have an opinion about peanut warning signs doesnt mean you know anything about food. You never mentioned anything about the rest of the menu. This was worthless. Try writing romance novels.

  4. Anonymous is right: I never said anything about the rest of the menu. Having only tried one burger, I didn't think it appropriate to comment on other things I didn't know about.

    And, of course, he or she is right in that having "an opinion about peanut warning signs doesn[']t mean you know anything about food." On the other hand, it doesn't preclude the possibility.

    I wonder if Anonymous appreciates the irony of his or her comment. I doubt it.

  5. Mr. Curmudgeon is right and the kids below him are wrong. The one time I went Five Guys Burgers and Fries I felt like I had been ripped off. Dairy Queen has better hamburgers and fries and charge less. There are plenty of non-chain places within a five mile radius of the Quarry location that provide better and more food than Five Guys Burgers and Fries for less money.

  6. Wow. Thanks, but ... worse than Dairy Queen?!? Slam!

  7. I went there once after a golf game at nearby Olmos Basin.Yes it was noisy,chairs scraping on tile floors,etc.And the food came fast.But the fries were tossed into the bag the burgers came in,and in a minute,the bag was changed into a grease container.We tossed half the fries outI never went back,just drive up to B' way and down to Cheesy Janes for good fries,a decent burger,great shakes,a tv on sports,and nice servers.

  8. I've tried Cheesy Janes multiple times, and every time I get a burger there it's dry as all get out. That's just not something I can continue to eat, so I don't. Five Guys is pretty good, but to keep paying the price for the burger you get, you better be a fan. I've never had an issue with their fries, granted I hate McDonalds type fries and don't tend to eat fries at most places. I can say this is one place that had a burger that didn't aggravate my heartburn back before I had my gallbladder removed and weighed 40lbs more. At that time, anything that was disgustingly greasy or oily, or overprocessed would give me hours worth of pain. Five Guys was one of the few places I could eat "fast food" without problems. I run half marathons now, so no judging, thank you :D

    1. The Curmudgeon-About-Town reviewed Cheesy Jane's in October 2012. Click on the link for that month on the right to see what his invaluable opinion of the place was.


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