Where: Five Guys Burgers and Fries. 635 Robson St., Vancouver, BC.
Ate: Cheeseburger and Regular-sized Cajun Fries.
When: January 1, 2019.
Rating: Decent 8/10
In the arena of most-loved fast food burger, there’s one joint that claims all the notoriety — the west coast’s In-N-Out Burger. The iconic California chain is a chart-topping thing of myth and legend. With it’s cult-like following, one risks becoming a social pariah should they speak against the In-N-Out rhetoric. With that said, I’m about to do just that. Now, before you sharpen your pitchforks and light your torches, I will say that I have nothing against In-N-Out, in fact, I even quite like it; I just don’t think it’s the best fast food burger joint available. I believe that the throne belongs to the east coast’s Five Guys.
I first read about Five Guys some time many years ago while surfing the web and stumbling across a debate of the best fast food burgers. In said debate, only Five Guys and In-N-Out were serious contenders vs. the less desirable McA&Kings of the world. It wasn’t until a few years later when I was first presented the opportunity to try Five Guys when I discovered there was one in Vancouver. That first occasion is not the one described in this review, however, in this review, it was my third or fourth visit.
On the first day of 2019, I found myself in Vancouver having spent the last few days here. On this particular day, I had dropped my girlfriend off at the ferry terminal, and was alone for dinner. Where I was staying didn’t have much food in the fridge, and I was too lazy to go to the grocery store and make something. Thus, I decided Five Guys it was. Knowing I wanted to make a review out of it, I took the food back to the apartment, which was about a 15 minute walk away, in order to snap a couple of photos before diving in. Thus, as shown in the photos, the burger looks a tad saturated and tired. But, a dirty meal deserves nothing more than a dirty photo.
Despite making the same mistake last visit, I ordered the Cheeseburger and regular-sized Cajun fries as opposed to the ‘Little Cheeseburger’ and ‘Little Fries’ — resulting in a very full stomach after somewhat forcing myself to finish the meal. Where the ‘Little Cheeseburger’ has a single paddy, the ‘Cheeseburger’ has two. Where the ‘Little Fries’ has a reasonable amount of fires, the ‘Regular Fries’ has an excess (I can’t imagine what the larger size fries would entail). For the sake of my arteries, I pray that next time I remember to get the ‘Little’ versions.
Five Guys offers a great number of topping choices when ordering one’s burger, and I always go with all the default toppings, subtracting mushrooms, and adding hot sauce. This visit was no different, and thus, my burger was topped with Mayo, Lettuce, Pickles, Tomatoes, Grilled Onions, Ketchup, Mustard, Relish, and Hotsauce. I always opt for the Cajun spiced fries vs. the regular fries. For the uninitiated, Five Guys offers free, limitless un-shelled bulk peanuts, and, as is tradition, I grabbed a few of these as well, to snack on while I waited for my order and for the walk home.
When I got back to the apartment, the paper bag had a nice stain of grease on the bottom, and I’d already dove into the fries on my walk. I dumped out the bag, and unwrapped the tinfoil-clad burger, placing in on a plate along with the remaining fries and a few of the peanuts that were left. The placement was haphazard, and I really wasn’t too worried about cleaning up any of the sauce splatter or crumbs on the plate. I was ready to dive in, and after three quick photos, I did just that.
The burger, despite being a bit soggy, was fantastic, as always. The patties are moist and scrumptious, with the buns that hold them fresh and actually feel and taste like a bread product of decent quality, as opposed to some fast food joints that seemingly use the going-to-expire-tomorrow-been-left-unbagged-on-the-counter-for-two-days special. Even having been left in the bag for fifteen minutes, the lettuce was still decently unwilted, and provided the sought-after crunch, aided more so by the pickles. I’d opted for five condiments on the burger, which can sometimes cause an over-saturation, but in this case, I’d say the bit of sogginess was purely a result of leaving the burger sitting for some time before indulging, and, should I have eaten immediatley, there would have been none whatsoever. One thing worth mentioning, is the cheese; Five Guys uses a classic American Cheese, which some, including myself, find gross in most situations. However, in the Five Guys cheeseburger, it’s a thing of beauty, fusing the bun to the patty in a glowing harmony.
The Cajun Fries, in my opinion, are a necessity, and while regular fries are always delightful, if presented with the Cajun option, I’m going in. The salty-spiciness is truly tantalizing, albeit lip-drying. For me, with the Cajun option, ketchup is a non-necessity.
Overall, Five Guys brings to the table what every fast food burger joint should strive for; simplicity, quick service, attention to detail, consistently tasty food, and novelty. Five Guys’ menu is focused on what they do best: burgers and fries. The food is always scrumptious and tastes like quality ingredients are being employed. The free peanuts are just the icing on top. While the price isn’t the lowest in the game, the quality of product, in my humble opinion, is leaps and bounds better than what one can find at their local Golden Arches. At almost CAD$15.00 for my meal, it certainly wasn’t cheap, but I was extremely full having not opted for the ‘Little’ versions. Had I gone for the ‘little’ menu items I would have both saved a few dollars as well as kept my arteries a bit clearer.
So what puts Five Guys ahead of In-N-Out? Well, I don’t know if I can say for certain; perhaps it’s just my personal preference. But this I do know for certain, one can find Five Guys in the True North, Strong, and Free, where as there’s no In-N-Out in sight.