Some places receive such ridiculous hype that they’re almost asking for a negative review before I even get there, and such is the case with Five Guys. I can’t even sugarcoat this review, or hold you in suspense about my opinion until the end, this place is completely overrated, overpriced, and not worth one ounce of hype. Now if you care to know more, I’ll tell you why.
First a little background on this hype train. Five Guys opened up maybe a year or two ago all over my home town of Boston, and all of my friends went nuts about how great this place was. Burger Boy put it to the test, and quickly dispelled all those rumors. When I was home earlier this year, one of my friends vehemently defended the quality of the burger, but my brother would not let me go try it. The locals’ argument is that it was the best burger in town, and way better than In-N-Out. Blasphemy! As I started discussing this chain with others, I quickly noticed a trend that anyone who lived in a city without In-N-Out but with Five Guys claimed that it was far superior, yet anyone with common sense and an In-N-Out nearby felt otherwise. This all made me quite curious to try it for myself.
Similar to what happened with Steak ‘n Shake in Vegas, when Five Guys first opened it was unapproachable. I refuse to wait 45 minutes even for a takeout fast food burger, so I’ve waited a few months for some of the hype and crowds to die down. Also I figured that they might have some kinks to work out and I’d rather try them at their best. There are three locations now in Vegas, with more on the way. I assume they are all similar in design; extremely simple, uninspired, and very utilitarian. The color scheme is eerily similar to In-N-Out, with the kitchen even more on display. The area for placing orders is defined by boxes of peanuts that are there for you to take to your table and snack on, and I assume maybe for their fry oil? I didn’t care enough to look into this. All over the walls of the restaurant were quotes from magazines, awards the chain has won, and other various accolades all printed on 11×17 sheets of paper and STAPLED to the wall. Classy. There were also larger signs touting similar content that were just screwed to the walls. Looking good so far.
The menu is a bit more complicated than our west coast friend, and doesn’t quite explain what’s going on with your order. Aside from the typical burger, they also offer veggie burgers and hot dogs, as well as an option for Cajun style fries. I went with the cheeseburger as I typically would, because the ‘little cheeseburger’ didn’t seem fitting. What I didn’t know until I started eating, and was even a bit unclear when I bit into it, was that the cheeseburger is actually a double. How anyone would know this based on looking at the menu is beyond me. You have your choice of many standard toppings like lettuce and tomato, which they make sure to point out are FREE, which I guess should make us feel special?
They called my number, and I was presented with a brown paper bag. As I peered inside all I could see was a large pile of decent looking fries. Apparently they thought it was a smart idea to put my tin foil-wrapped burger at the bottom of the bag, and then piled a large amount of oily, hot, fresh fries on top. I had to rip my bag apart to get near my burger without burning the skin off my hand. Upon unwrapping my tin foil, I was presented with a sesame seed bun that I would find at any friend’s BBQ, and a burger that looked worse than what I could make at home. So much for the presentation. There was far too much lettuce on the top, not really enough mushrooms to make them noticeable, and probably 3 or 4 layers of American cheese partially melted. Still at this point I didn’t notice that I had a double patty, it wasn’t until after I bit into it and kind of noticed that there might be two layers of meat in some spots of the burger, but not all. The first bite was actually quite tasty. I’m not sure if it was because I hadn’t eaten anything all day, or if this was actually a decent burger. After a few more bites I quickly determined that the tastiness wasn’t the case. The meat lacked any great flavor other than grease, the mushrooms were weak, and the cheese was overpowering. The bun was a bit too thin, but not quite as bad as a standard sesame bun from the grocery store.
The fries looked promising, and again with the first bite or two seemed good, but as I really got into my meal I determined that they didn’t have much of a potato flavor and didn’t hold much of the peanut oil flavor I was longing for. The regular size was quite bountiful though, as my friend and I weren’t able to finish them all. I’d be curious to try the Cajun style, but I’m really not sure if I’ll give them a chance for a second meal.
Mediocre burger and fries aside, the biggest offense of the night was the price. Looking at the little take home menu I have in front of me, I see the comment “the best $5 burger a man can eat” by GQ magazine. By ‘$5’, they mean just the burger, which is listed at $5.19 for the hamburger, and $5.79 for the cheeseburger. I can get almost an entire In-N-Out meal for this price. My cheeseburger, regular fries and regular drink came to $11.54!! That’s double the price of my beloved Double Double! How can anyone think that an almost $12 greasy mess of ugliness and lack of flavor is even close to being as good or better than In-N-Out? Beats me, but apparently there are a lot of folks out there that think so.
I really don’t have much else to say about this, I’ve already said quite a bit. I can say I strongly question the opinion of any of my friends in Vegas that think this is a good meal, and as for my friends that live on the east coast without the option of In-N-Out, I feel sorry for you. If you do feel like spending almost $12 on a burger, there are far better options in town that stand out, have great flavor, more options and offer better flavor. So do yourself a favor and avoid Five Guys.