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In the unlikeliest of circumstances, I received a food recommendation last week. It happened while I was reading the transcript of a live chat with baseball analyst Keith Law. He holds live chats on the website every Thursday, and answers fans’ questions on baseball, and to a lesser extent food, books, music and films. I don’t particularly care for his taste in music or books, but he definitely knows about food. So when Mr. Law recommended a fast food burger chain called Five Guys over In-N-Out, I was stunned. Not only had I expected him to choose In-N-Out as his favorite fast food burger, I had never even heard of a chain called Five Guys. I wondered if maybe it was a regional chain, but a quick Wikipedia search showed that not only were there two locations in Southern California, it started on the East Coast! And I had no idea it existed!
I had to work this morning, which totally sucked, but I was able to leave by 3:00pm, so I picked up Nicci and we began to drive towards the Cerritos location. It’s been cold and rainy all day in Los Angeles, and — I swear to God — people in this city are morbidly fearful of rain. It took an hour to drive 18 miles. The cars on the freeway could not have moved any slower. I mean, they could have, but I’d probably still be sitting in my car driving there if that were the case.
The restaurant was easy to find. The first thing I noticed upon approaching the entrance was how clean it appeared inside. Growing up, eating inside a McDonald’s or a Burger King was totally boojwah, you know? It was always dirty, and smelly, and only minorities ate inside! Most folks carried their food out or used the drive-thru window. Five Guys is supremely clean. This could be a product of the locations being “fast casual” restaurants. They do not offer full table service, but promote a higher quality of food and atmosphere than fast food chains. The second thing I noticed was that it was filled with white kids wearing striped clothes!
The menu at Five Guys is incredibly simple. You can get a regular burger or a “little” burger. The regular has two patties, and the little has one patty. Everything comes plain, which is absolutely perfect for me. I hate unnecessary toppings like lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo, or whatever the hell most chains use as condiments. Both-sized burgers can be prepared with cheese, bacon, or both. There is a second menu with a long list of toppings, all of which are free. I ordered a regular bacon cheeseburger with jalapenos and ketchup. Nicci ordered a regular burger with cheese, lettuce, tomato, mustard, ketchup and pickles. We were told that a side order of French fries would feed two people, so we only ordered one. We had the option of regular fries or Cajun style, so we opted for Cajun. There was also a large box of complimentary peanuts that could be consumed while waiting for your food, but we passed on those. The burgers, fries, and sodas cost seventeen dollars and change — way more expensive than most fast food restaurants, with the exception of Fatburger which is retardedly expensive.
Unlike In-N-Out, Fatburger, or any other burger chain I’ve encountered, the hamburgers are packed in tin foil, and they arrive at the table piping hot and ready for consumption. It was damn good. Whereas The Counter topped my cheesburger with way too many jalapenos, the burger at Five Guy was topped with less than a handful of fresh peppers that did not dominate eat bite. I might opt for the “little” hamburger on future visits, as the combination of burger and fries was a lot to stomach. I didn’t eat breakfast this morning and I don’t plan on eating dinner now, either. It was a massive amount of food. The fries were very tasty — not too soggy and not too crisp — but I might opt for the regular fresh-cut style next time. Cajun fries always disappoint me, because it just tastes like they’re spiced with pepper, salt, and chili powder. Meh.
I can’t say definitively that it’s better than In-N-Out or Fatburger. It’s definitely not better than Apple Pan. It’s really good, though. Think of Five Guys as the Chipotle of burger stands. It’s really fucking good…but at the end of the day, sometimes the “lesser” alternatives can be just as fulfilling. I give Five Guys one of my highest ratings ever: thirteen titanium Centurion Cards.