When the first sign went up advertising a new Five Guys Burgers and Fries downtown, my wife and I greeted it with a mixture of excitement and worry. After all, we loved their burgers and stopped by the Five Guys in Hamilton Village anytime we were in the mall area.
Fortunately for our waistlines, a drive to Gunbarrel Road is a once-in-a-while thing, but this location, opening in the old Rock Point Books location, would be a five-minute drive from home.
Where: Five Guys Burgers and Fries, 401 Broad St.
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Sunday.
Price range: $2.99 (grilled cheese sandwich)-$6.29 (bacon cheeseburger).
OTHER AREA LOCATIONS
* 2020 Gunbarrel Road, Chattanooga, 423-664-3500
* 5110 Hixson Pike, Hixson, 423-870-7772
* 124 Stuart Road, Cleveland, Tenn., 423-476-4878
* 1303 W. Walnut Ave., Dalton, Ga., 706-229-9147
In the mood for a hamburger? Good, because that's pretty much what Five Guys is all about, offering four varieties in two sizes. You can order a hamburger for $4.89, cheeseburger for $5.49, bacon cheeseburger for $5.69 or a bacon cheeseburger for $6.29. You also can have the "little" version of each, which comes with one patty, for $1.20 less.
The burgers are served with your choice of free toppings: lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, onions, grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, jalapeño peppers, green peppers, hot sauce, A.1. steak sauce, barbecue sauce, relish, mayo, ketchup and mustard.
Five Guys also offers hot dogs for $3.39 - with cheese ($3.99) or bacon ($4.19) or both ($4.79) - along with veggie or grilled cheese sandwiches (either, $2.99).
Fries, which are cooked in peanut oil, come in two sizes, regular ($2.89) and large ($4.79), and in either plain or Cajun style. The regular size is enough for two people, with fries spilling out of their container and into your bag.
In the mood for dessert? You'll need to move on to one of the several ice cream and frozen yogurt places within walking distance. However, if you count legumes as dessert, you can help yourself to the free peanuts.
The hamburgers are my favorite chain burger and are generally delicious, although the experience varies depending on the burger and the toppings you choose.
While the little burgers are manageable, the regular, double-patty burgers are monsters that leave you feeling slightly ashamed if you consume them in one sitting. Plus, if you pile on the toppings, it is physically impossible for a bun to contain them, so your burger is falling apart before you take bite one.
The hot dogs are good, but if you order one while your friends have burgers, you will definitely feel like you missed out. And if you are not into meat, let's just say Five Guys' offerings for vegetarians are limited. The grilled cheese is OK, with plenty of cheese, but the veggie sandwich is simply a mix of your choice of nonmeat toppings between two buns.
I don't want to cast aspersions on the fine men and women who work at other burger chains, but it's always a toss-up whether you will be treated to a smile or contempt. At Five Guys, I have yet to meet a surly cashier. Staff members are friendly, knowledgeable - did you know the bread for the grilled cheese sandwich is an inverted hamburger bun? - and seem happy to be there as they take your order.
The restaurant has a simple and clean style that suits it. White tile with red accents, peanut oil jugs and potato sacks add a cool decorative touch. Seating is available at two long bars or about a dozen tables.
Five Guys offers great-tasting food at a reasonable price and is an excellent addition to downtown. Even during the lunchtime rush, you can get a quick meal without sacrificing quality.
Contact Luis Carrasco at firstname.lastname@example.org