After the flurry of comments on The Memphis Flyer's Hungry Memphis food blog about the veggie options at Five Guys, I felt compelled to weigh in on the restaurant's 100 percent beef patty. So on Thursday, I had the Five Guys (not so) Little Burger, fries, and ice tea. Lunch cost a little over $9.
Based on the one visit, I'd say the pros and cons are about equal, so let's get the negatives out of the way first. The burger tastes like the meat at Wendy's. This isn't exactly a bad thing, but after lunch, I still felt like I needed a nap and a Prilosec. (For dinner, I'm thinking fruit salad.) The ambiance of the restaurant is either spirited or too noisy, depending on your point of view. But there are large outdoor tables painted a cheerful red.
Since I'm moving into the positives, let's keep in that direction. I love the restaurant's array of fresh toppings. I ordered my burger with everything except ketchup and mustard, which for Five Guys means mayo, lettuce, tomato, pickles, grilled onions, and grilled mushrooms. Extra toppings are free of charge (a good thing, considering the price of the burger) and include green peppers, jalapeno, relish, and three different kinds of sauce. The toppings are heaped on so generously that I needed a fork to scoop them up. Other folks must like the toppings (or the meat) too, because nationwide, the chain sells more than 350,000 burgers every day. Impressive.
Tony had a grilled kosher-style hot dog with all the bling, and we agreed that the dog was better than the burger. The hot dogs are split, grilled, and topped liked the burgers, a nice change from relish and mustard. We shared the regular fries (more than enough for two) and found them to be well-seasoned and tasty, but too greasy.
Overall, I think I was more impressed with the little touches at Five Guys than the burgers. Service was surprisingly efficient, the 50-pound bags of potatoes stacked as room dividers are a nice touch, and the restaurant's brown food bags are a retro throwback. Add in the bins of free peanuts to eat while you wait and the push-button ice tea machine, and a pricey fast food meal starts to make more sense.Five Guys, 1315 Ridgeway in Primary Place (680-5386)