Cooking with Alison

Five Guys Review

In Reviews on December 8, 2010 at am

(photo source here)

Five Guys Burgers and Fries (website here) is a fast-growing American fast-food chain that has received outstanding reviews.  They have an impressive list of awards and recognition, including Best Burger in the 2010 Zagat fast food survey (see here).  In fact, even President Obama likes the Five Guys burgers.  So, even though several new burger places opened in Kingston around the same time, I was most excited for Five Guys.  It is with great pleasure that I announce that they did not disappoint.  (See my reviews of Poutine Place and Harper’s Burger Bar and see below for a brief comparison between Five Guys and Harper’s.)  However, you should know that Five Guys has been featured on various “most unhealthy” lists.  Even their fries are considered the worst among restaurant foods in America (see here).  That wasn’t enough to stop me from ordering the bacon cheeseburger (which is a double patty burger with 920 calories and 62 grams of fat, not including the toppings), but it is enough to prevent me from going back any time soon.  My review below is for the Kingston, Canada, location only.


Five Guys is a fast food restaurant, so the atmosphere is simple and very casual.  The decor basically consists of red and white checkered tiles.  The Kingston location is brightly lit with an open kitchen and there are bags of potatoes and boxes of peanut oil stacked throughout the dining area.  They are open 7 days a week, but only from 11 am to 10 pm.


The menu at Five Guys is very simple and they don’t have chicken or fish burgers like other fast food chains.  They have beef burgers, three very basic and plain sandwiches, standard toppings, fries (regular or cajun style seasoning), and pop or water.  The “little” burgers are actually single patty burgers and the regular burgers are double pattied.  Each patty is only about 3.3 ounces though (source here).  The toppings are: mayo, lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, ketchup, mustard, relish, onions, jalapeno peppers, green peppers, A1 sauce, BBQ sauce, and hot sauce (all free).

Vegetarian/Vegan options:  Five Guys offers a veggie sandwich, cheese veggie sandwich, and a grilled cheese sandwich.  Note that according to the October 2008 nutritional information, the veggie sandwich (of all things) was the only item on their menu that had trans fats (1.5 grams) (see here)!  As of the 2009 Nutritional Guide, this sandwich no longer has trans fats (see here).


The prices for the little (one patty) burgers start at $4.29.  Which, in my opinion, is a little bit pricey considering the patties are only 3.3 ounces.  However, I would still rather pay more for a Five Guys burger than any other fast food burger.  The regular burgers (double patties) start at $6.29.  The bacon cheeseburger is $7.79.  Fries are $3.19 for a regular and $4.49 for a large.  After they overfill your fries container, they add some more to top off your brown paper bag.  So a regular sized fries was enough for Ed and I to share.  Note that Five Guys do not offer combos.

Photo below: Bacon Cheeseburger with mayo, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, grilled mushrooms, and green peppers.


Peanuts: You can snack on complimentary roasted peanuts while you wait for your order.

Drinks: The Kingston location offers free refills on pop.

Buns: The burgers are served on sesame seed buns that are, in my opinion, too soft.  If you don’t eat your burger quickly enough, they could easily become soggy from the toppings and the grease.

Toppings: The vegetable toppings were very fresh.  The processed cheese was standard.  Although the bacon was crunchy, it was disappointing because it was overcooked and hard.  I think they deep fry the bacon.

Burgers: Five Guys claims to cook fresh burgers that are made from 100% beef – no fillers or preservatives.  I love the sound of that, except I’m pretty sure that they replaced the fillers and preservatives with fat.  Although the fat makes for delicious and juicy burgers, you definitely taste and feel the grease.  In fact, all of our clothes smelled like grease when we left.  [They need a better ventilation system, but they didn’t have much to work with since their location was previously a dollar store.]  But it’s not just the fat content that makes Five Guys’ burgers delicious – their meat is coarsely ground and slightly chewy like meat should be.  I have always preferred coarsely ground meat (this stems from Chinese cooking), so it’s no surprise that I love Five Guys burgers.  This was probably the best burger that I’ve ever had from a fast food chain or pub.  (My favourite frozen burgers from a box are the President’s Choice Angus sliders – mini Angus beef burgers.)

Fries: Five Guys’ fries are thick cut with the skin on.  So they look and taste natural, but they are apparently the least healthy fries you’ll find in an American restaurant (see here).  Personally, I did not like their fries [at all], because they were too soft, they were bland, and they were not crispy.  We did not try the cajun style fries, which I’ve heard are better.

See Five Guys’ 2009 Nutritional Guide here.


Anxiously awaiting the grand opening of Five Guys, I peaked in the day before and the day before that and noticed that the staff were undergoing extensive training.  Already, I had a good impression of what was to come.  When I went on a busy Saturday night, it was evident that an efficient system was in place and that the staff had been well prepared.  The kitchen was full of staff that were working well together and moving quickly.  Although the line up was continuous, no one appeared to be stressed out.  Ed and I waited just under 5 minutes for our burgers and fries, which is impressive considering the burgers are made to order.  But I imagine that they will eventually cut back on the number of staff.  The demeanor of the staff wasn’t particularly friendly, but the speed of the service, and the well-cooked, well-topped burgers were more than enough to make me happy.

Harper’s Burger Bar vs. Five Guys

It is hard to compare Harper’s and Five Guys, because they are very different types of restaurants.

Harper’s has an extensive list of options whereas Five Guys has a very basic menu.  But I was more than satisfied with what Five Guys offered.  I really like the buns and toppings at Harper’s, but I really didn’t like their burger patties.  I love the burger patties at Five Guys and their toppings are great (for a fast food chain), but I really didn’t like their buns or fries.

If you are looking for a slightly pretentious, fully licensed restaurant with local beef gourmet burgers, artisan cheeses, sweet potato fries and white truffle aioli, then Harper’s is the place for you.  If you’ve got a few hours to leisurely enjoy [waiting for] your burger, then Harper’s definitely has a nicer atmosphere for that.  But, if you’re looking to spend a little less in time and in money, or you’re craving a really good, standard burger (or just looking for a grease fix), then Five Guys will definitely satisfy you.  Five Guys’ burgers are definitely the best fast food burgers I have ever had.

  1. […] is the original post: Five Guys Review « Cooking with Alison Uncategorized 920-calories, america, bacon, burgers, double-patty, from-ordering, […]

  2. Sorry Alison, but your declaration about calories, fat etc implies somehow that Five Guys is less healthy than other burger options. This is simply not the case.

    The link to Men’s Health relates to their LARGE fries. I have never (I mean never) seen anyone eat a large order of their fries.

    And, unlike the main fast food culprits, they do not add preservatives, MSG, fillers or flavour enhancers to their food. They also do not add silicon products to their cooking oil like all the major chains. So I would proffer that they are actually the “lesser of the evils”

    There is no question that Five Guys does not qualify to be “health food”, but like pizza and other indulgences, go for the best if you are going to splurge now and then. Quality is what dictates when eating food like this, not numbers.

    Great blog! Keep up the good work!

  3. FYI the LARGE order of fries is equal to at least 4 regular orders elsewhere. Even a regular order is loads for 2 people. Also, silicone oil is commonly used in all of the major chains to increase crispness and extend the frying oil life.

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