I promise that I will get some non-chain articles in here soon..
Yesterday, I had the desire to do two things: take a long scooter ride and enjoy a delicious burger. Accomplished both.
Five Guys is a VERY, VERY popular QSR in the Washington, DC area that has recently started selling franchises and expanding nationwide. And if I had the seed money to open one myself I would do it in a heartbeat. In the meantime I will travel the 30 or so miles to the closest one. I had the luck of living in the DC area for a while and enjoyed many a burger at one of President Obama’s favorite burger joints.
Upon entering any Five Guys location you will encounter a sea of white and red tiles. Above the tiles are laminated copies of magazine articles and reviews stapled to the wall. Above those are corrugated plastic signs touting their various achievements. One of the articles describes a Five Guys location as having “the ambience of a restaurant bathroom”. Accurate depiction, but we are talking about high quality at a low price. Some of the older locations in northern Virginia are take-out only, but most of the newer ones have seating.
The menu is very basic. Burgers, fries, hot dogs, and a vegetarian “option”. A burger is actually a double, and the “little burger” is a single. The burger patties are close to 1/4lb each so the “Burger” is 1/2lb. You can add any of the listed toppings free of charge. Fries are a different story. There are two varieties of fries: “Five Guys Style” and “Cajun”. A board in the restaurant tells you where the potatoes for the day are from. They are fresh-cut and cooked in peanut oil to order. I’ll explain how they are served in a bit when I talk about presentation.
Upon ordering, the average wait for food is about 5-10 minutes since it is all cooked to order. While you wait, feel free to enjoy the peanuts that are in big boxes around the restaurant. Sadly, with the peanut oil and the open boxes of peanuts all around FG is not friendly to those with severe peanut allergies. They’re aware, but have no intention of changing this. Ketchup and salt vinegar are available for those who want it and Coke products are proudly served, usually with free refills (depends on location).
All Five Guys meals are served the same way: in a brown paper bag with the burger wrapped in foil and a cup of fries plus more fries dumped in the bag. No trays. My ritual involves ripping the bag open to create a tray, unwrapping the burger and using the foil to dump the ketchup on. They do have cups available for the ketchup, but I look weird with 17 cups of ketchup on the table. The fries are served in a cup (used to be styrofoam, now paper) and are available in two sizes. The “regular” easily can serve two and the “large” is just plain excessive unless there are three or more in your party. Again, the “large” is an insane amount of fries.
All burgers are cooked well-done for health code and efficiency reasons. Since Five Guys prides themselves on offering fresh food, it is imperative to eat it as soon as possible. Yesterday I had what I would call the “perfect” Five Guys burger: fresh off the grill, bun not smushed by the foil being too tight, and just the right amount of ketchup and mustard.
Right now the only LA area locations are Carson and Cerritos. Sadly neither are close to me, but as I said before I will go the distance for these burgers.
Five Guys Burgers and Fries
South Bay Pavillion
20700 Avalon Blvd
Carson, CA 90746
I was feeling hungry tonight, and instead of my trying to cook something (you don’t want to see that happen) or head out to pick up some food I chose to cook up a BOCA Burger.
There is usally a pack of BOCA Original Vegan patties sitting in the freezer for the times when dinner prep seems like a major undertaking. They are really low fat (less than 1g) and a good source of protein and iron.
Being a lifelong meat eater I hadn’t even considered putting a BOCA burger anywhere near my mouth until a few years ago. However, since I was introduced to them I can’t say that they haven’t grown on me a little bit.
BOCA burgers can be prepared several ways (grill, skillet, or microwave) and are probably served best on a bun. I’m not vegan and I have no plans on becoming one so topping choices are wide open.
Today’s BOCA burger was microwaved (for convenience) and served on a bun with bleu cheese and ketchup.
Since I’ve already been through half of the current box, I guess it is a repeat item. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that everyone should keep some in their freezer for a quick and nutritious entree.
BOCA Foods Company
PO Box 8995
Madison, WI 53708
I discovered Carl’s Jr. a little more than a year ago when I moved to California. Prior to moving I had only been in one Hardee’s restaurant about 90 minutes away from where I grew up. This particular Carl’s Jr is within walking distance of my house.
I have been a huge proponent of the Big Carl since its debut. I call it “elegance in simplicity”. It also happens to be the cheapest burger combo on the menu. ($1.99 for the burger, $4.39 for the combo.)
The Big Carl is pretty straightforward: two all-beef patties, lettuce, cheese, and special sauce on a sesame seed bun. Personally, I substitute ketchup for the sauce but I do hear that the sauce is delicious. The patties are the standard broiled patties we are used to seeing on the Famous Star and friends. A Six Dollar version would be nice, but at the same time excessive.
One minor issue with the burger. In all of the print and TV advertising it is pictured with a leafier lettuce that holds together better. I have only seen it served with iceberg lettuce. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problems with iceberg but it does throw off the symmetry a little bit.
Served today with fries and a Diet Coke. Carl’s Jr. makes some decent fries. Natural cut and also criss-cut. They suit my palate just fine, but I’m not here to critique the fries.
A few items for my Carl’s Jr. wishlist:
- Offer a ketchup pump/bottles in the dining room. I like ketchup on my fries but I don’t like opening packets. There is a can of Heinz Ketchup with a pump attached sitting on my kitchen counter.
- Faster dining room service. Tonight I got my food in about three minutes but there have been days where I have had to wait close to ten. This does vary between franchisees, though.
I’m not big into giving ratings, but if you want my opinion this is one burger worth stopping in for.
7649 Van Nuys Blvd
Van Nuys, CA 91405