A Five Guys Burgers and Fries franchisee duo recently confirmed they're opening the first of many fast-food burger restaurants in the South Sound, starting with downtown Puyallup in November.
Curious by all the fuss from readers and national media about this burger chain, I paid a visit to Five Guys Burgers and Fries in Renton. I found towering burgers and what might be some of my new favorite fries in a fast-food setting outside of Fife's Pick-Quick Drive-In. Click "more" to read about the Five Guys burgers in Renton.
The scene: The atmosphere of Five Guys is strictly fast casual with an order-at-the-counter protocol. Watch your burger assembled on the on-display grill line. Help yourself to a paper tray of peanuts in the shell while you wait.
The menu: Burgers, burgers and burgers. Four varieties in two sizes: hamburger, cheeseburger, bacon burger and bacon cheeseburger. Also, a few dogs, a few veggie sandwiches and grilled cheese.
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The protocol: Burgers come bare bones, you pick from a list of 15 ingredients to customize your burger. The toppings are free: Mayo, relish, onions, lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, ketchup, mustard, jalapeno peppers, green peppers, A.1. Steak Sauce, barbecue sauce, hot sauce.
The Little Bacon Cheeseburger: (4.79) The little burger turned out to be not so little. The difference between big and little? A patty. Littles come with one 3.5 ounce patty, and Bigs come with two. Five Guys started our Little Bacon Cheeseburger with a solid foundation: A grill-toasted sesame seed bun that stood up to the single patty grill that oozed burger juice, coated with a partially melted slice of American cheese. On the bottom bun, crumbled pieces of crispy bacon. I like my bacon with just a bit of chew left on the edges. This bacon erred on the wrong side of crisp for a burger. Minus five points for risking mouth injury. The patty looked hand-formed (a little crumble around the edges was the tell), tomatoes were sliced thick, iceberg lettuce came in leaves not shredded, and mayo and ketchup gave a touch of fat and a touch of sweet. Aside from the way too crispy bacon, the burger was full of win.
Big bacon cheeseburger: ($5.99) Adding an extra burger patty, grilled mushrooms and grilled onions turned the burger into a soggy, sloppy mess. And not in a good way where the burger juice rolls down your arm as you munch happily. And the exterior of the sesame seed bun was so wet, it was glossy - presumably from someone with wet hands on the line. I asked for a replacement and the counter help cheerfully complied. The second time around, the bun was dry and could actually hold the fillings: crinkle-cut dill pickles, a sweet pickle relish, the above mentioned mushrooms and onions, ketchup, mayo and mustard. This was waaaay too much for one sitting, I finished about a quarter of the burger.
Fries: ($2.98). A small paper cup comes filled with thicker-cut skins-on fries that are fried in peanut oil. But look in the bag, and you'll see an annex order of fries: enough to fill the cup twice. One order of fries feeds two easily, or three fairly. If you're a fan of fries with a larger surface area, you'll appreciate these. And the flavor was pure potato. I'm a fan.
Peanut alert: Anyone who has peanut allergies should know that boxes of self-serve peanuts sit in the front entry and fries are cooked in peanut oil.
The verdict: For burger chains, I still list Vancouver, Wash.-based Burgerville as my favorite burger chain. But based on a single visit, I'd say Five Guys has its burger heart in the right place. Hand-formed burger patties, fresh-cut fries and solid customer service earned Five Guys bonus points.