I am ready to admit; I think we’re a little late to this party. Assistant Laura & I had never heard of Five Guys Burgers & Fries before a trip to the Winter Garden Villages mall a couple weeks back. We’d not had them the last time we were living in our home state of Illinois (they are now there) five and a half years ago. We’d never heard of them while we were in the Phoenix area for four years (there are now some there), and we hadn’t heard of them until the holidays here in Florida (yep, plenty here too).
So what’s the deal? How did we miss them?
I’m guessing we kept moving on as they were moving in – according to the History page on their website, Five Guys started their nationwide expansion in 2003, leaving their Washington DC home-base (and first migration into Virginia & Maryland in 2002) and started to spread out. Now they’re located in 725 locations over 40 states.
More importantly, what are we going to do now that we’ve “discovered” them?
Eat at Five Guys Burgers & Fries – at least from time to time.
Hey, we have to watch our weight and budget – and we do eat at places so we can tell you about them, so we have to go to more than one spot – but I’m a total “Cheeseburger in Paradise” kinda goofball who loves my cheeseburgers, and the idea that there is a great one in the neighborhood really set my tummy-a-danc’n.
The last time I had a cheeseburger I’d drive out of my way for was back home in Northern Illinois – Don’s Dairy Frost in McHenry, IL if you’re wondering – and now to know there’s a place I’d take that drive for… well, my taste-buds are happy once again.
In fact, a quick check just brought up 8 stores under “Orlando.”
What’s the big deal?
The food is really good. Walking in the first time, we were reminded of a place back home – Moon Doggies in Glenview, IL – with the red & white colors all over & a fifties kinda feel. The counter service set up appeals to the quick-as-you-go side, though there is plenty of seating to be found.
The girl behind the counter at this Winter Garden store (Winter Garden Village, 3107 Daniels Rd 407-905-9811) was friendly and right on it when we said it was our first time. She explained the different between the “Little” & “regular” was one patty of meat vs two, then let us re-check the menu, making sure we were getting what we wanted.
I went with the Cheeseburger – two patties – and “everything” on it (mayo, lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, ketchup, mustard) without the mushrooms. Assistant Laura enjoyed the single patty version.
We each got an order of fries – regular – and a drink. Assistant Laura had the “cajun” style fries, and while we both found them decent, we much preferred the “regular” version.
Both loved the burgers & fries, Assistant Laura taking to our British friend’s habit of using Malt Vinegar spilling over into this meal, she enjoyed the fries – both cajun & regular with a dip. Like many Florida restaurants, Five Guys offered vinegar as an option at its condiments bar. I brought over the ketchup, but quickly switched to the vinegar as well – very tasty.
These burgers are big, a good sized portion, with the food melting in your mouth, and as many good burgers do, so full of “stuff” they even fell apart as we made our way through.
Pricing is decent
In this economy it’s always hard to sell me on restaurant pricing, but when you eat out, you’re going to pay, and when you live and work in a “tourist area” you’re not often surprised by the prices.
These prices are pretty decent and typical of anywhere, not just a tourism location, yet I’d love to see them a little lower. With the Little Hamburger at $3.59 and regular at $4.79 it does fall on the “high” side of pricing. This isn’t a McDonald’s burger – much bigger and better – but it is still a burger.
The fries are plentiful in portion and we felt we could easily share a regular – a large when we’re in the fries-mood. (regular $2.69, large $4.19)
This is a fun setting, with peanuts a fun side prize to be enjoyed. Pull a hand-full of peanuts from the box and enjoy while you wait for your food, dumping the shells on the floor as if in a honky-tonk. There are plenty of bags and boxes of peanuts all around – if you’ve got an allergy, stay far, far away.
That red & white is reminiscent of when I was young and the burger joints were on their way out – you can almost picture Fonzie, Rickie and Potsie sitting in the corner. (and yes, I know I’m dating myself – but the Happy Days gang for me was on TV, not a place for after my school hours)
On our visit we were a bit disappointed in that the store’s front area had not been cleaned, with all the open tables dirty. We had to clean our’s ourselves. I’d give them that they seemed to be coming off a busy time.
However, as we were eating, a young man from the back came out to do garbage and was carrying the full & gross bags back and forth through the still busy customer area. It only made matters worse when he set something he was holding down on the service counter, touching the surface also with his gloved hands. The point of the gloves is protection – not spreading things around.
That said, in general it was a very clean place – you can see & watch the cooking area – which was clean – and this experience would not keep us from returning, but we will keep an eye out.
Five Guys offers more than just those burgers & fries; enjoy a hot dog (various toppings) or veggie sandwich, cheese veggie or grilled cheese.
The food is good, the pricing decent & acceptable – though we’d share fries and go with regulars unless splurging – and while the young kid made the gross cleaning mistake, we won’t hold it against them.
By the signs on the walls, Five Guys is popular all around the country, and they aren’t too proud to tell you – they shouldn’t be – this is good food.
If you love your Cheeseburger in Paradise or anywhere, give Five Guys a try and you too will likely find a new friend in the neighborhood.