Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Recon: FIVE GUYS

San Diego, CA


The east coast staple has finally hit the west coast.

I went down to San Diego last weekend, where my family was eager to take me to Five Guys, a burger joint they already held in high esteem. Tucked into the revamped Liberty Station in Point Loma, Five Guys has a spacious layout covered in white and red tiles with sacks of potatoes stacked around.  At first I thought there might be some construction still going on, and then I realized the potatoes are part of the d├ęcor.  The menu is simple enough, with less than 12 burger, hot dog or sandwich options, and all toppings are included in the price of the burger. All patties are cooked well done. There’s a little hanging chalkboard that tells you where the potatoes are from- that day’s hailed from Rich Lance Farms in Blackfoot, Idaho.  At the counter where you order there’s a bin of peanuts and you get to scoop some out to snack on while you wait for your burger.


We all opted for the bacon cheeseburger (what a family!) but our toppings differed: I asked for mayo, lettuce, tomatoes, grilled onions, ketchup & mustard.  You can also have pickles, grilled mushrooms, relish, onions, jalapeno peppers, green peppers, A-1 sauce, barbeque sauce and/or hot sauce.  My sister was raving about the Cajun fries so we got orders of both.  Food comes out in slightly greasy brown paper bags, fries spilling out everywhere on everything. 



Great flavor in that first bite.  We all know I’m a huge fan of American cheese on a burger, and it was fantastic.  Bacon was thin-sliced and crisp.  This is by far the messiest burger I’ve had yet, but it had an excellent classic flavor. It will fall apart and you will lick your fingers. The bun is sweet and doughy and there’s a light crunch to the edges of the patty.  They put more than one slice of tomato on each burger, which made me happy. I felt like this wouldn’t have been so messy or fallen apart so quickly if the components had been stacked differently. Putting ketchup, mustard and mayo next to the grilled onions and tomatoes made for a slippery burg.  Even with the mess and constant reassembly, the taste was spot on.


The Cajun fries definitely brought the heat to the equation. My sister was all about them but the rest of us preferred the regular fries. They’re naturally cut and cooked in peanut oil, and while this might make them healthier, their uneven sizes meant they didn’t cook evenly. Smaller fries were perfectly crisp while longer fries were soft. All of them needed more salt. They offer ketchup and a few other Heinz products to dip your fries in, but I would have preferred a thousand island dip with a dash of mustard.  (I probably could have asked for the components and mixed a little thousand island at my table, but I think it should automatically be offered.)


Service was friendly and fast. Their walls are covered in reviews, praise and awards. It’s definitely an all ages joint. Price is around $10 per person if you get a drink, which consisted of the usual fountain beverages –including my BFF Coke Zero- and bottled water. When the food came we got quiet- which means we were gobbling it up.  Anytime I am craving a quick, classic burger I will definitely think of Five Guys. Like right now… 

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