December 4, 2009

Five Guys, five sporks

This may be the only time you ever see me tell you to pay ten bucks for a burger and fries.

Until the far away day when the rising tide of inflation picks up candy bar prices to $5, you won't see me endorse many meals this pricey. I could be rich enough to eat a surf and turf of manatee and polar bear every night, but I would still shudder at the thought of handing over ten Washingtons for the traditionally inexpensive American meal.

But oh what a burger and fries Five Guys cooks.

The Virginia-based chain makes a big deal about the fact that it offers no frozen ingredients and uses only peanut oil on its fries. Normally I'd ignore all that woofing, but something makes a difference at Five Guys. And it may well be the no-frozen all-peanut formula.

Five Guys' burgers are truly hot off the grill. They drip taste (grease) and have ground beef that tastes closer to "off the farm" than "out of the food processor." Five Guys fries are the closest thing to fresh cut potatoes that I've seen outside of sliced-in-front-of-you fair fries. They aren't too salty and have an actual potato flavor -- a rarity in fast food fries.

A real selling point on the burgers is their customizability. Toppings are free -- provided you're willing to pay the already premium price of a burger -- and give you plenty of chances to mix and match. I counted sixteen different toppings, including green peppers, hot sauce and grilled onions.

... And then there's my favorite topping, jalapeno peppers. Five Guys has taken the high road and offers actual fresh jalapenos. As in not the pickled peppers you see at so many other fast food restaurants. While I love pickled jalapenos, the fresh ones provide a much longer-lasting heat that builds upon itself, simultaneously building deliciousness.

But enough about the peppers. You're probably wondering how it all adds up to a $10 meal. And in truth you could order a burger and fries for less than that. But you'd have to order a single burger, which Five Guys mockingly calls a "Little Burger." I say don't go little, stay beefy!

Or you could leave out the drink. My bacon cheeseburger cost $5.49, my fries cost $2.39 and my drink cost $1.79. Toss in some tax, and you have a $10.26 meal -- that was worth it.

Five Guys is getting the same number of sporks as it has guys. Five. Each full dollar I paid for my burger was worth a spork.

Plus I'm ready to go back to spend another ten bucks. I have an awfully inflated opinion of this place.

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