Restaurant of the Week: Five Guys

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Five Guys Burgers and Fries, 7945 Haven Ave. (at Town Center Drive), Rancho Cucamonga

The Inland Empire’s first Five Guys outpost of the East Coast chain opened in March in the Terra Vista center north of Foothill Boulevard. Lines are usually out the door, showing either strong curiosity or repeat customers, probably both.

I visited with three pals on a recent Saturday at high noon, in retrospect perhaps the worst time to have picked. The place was jam-packed and noisy and tables were scarce.

It’s a simple menu of burgers, fries, hot dogs and a couple of veggie sandwiches, and no milkshakes. They have free peanuts while you wait. Bags of potatoes are stacked around the otherwise utilitarian red and white interior. (A familiar color scheme…) A chalkboard sign notes where the day’s potatoes are from. OK, so they’re a little fanatical about their potatoes.

Burgers ($3.59 to $5.79) come with your choice of toppings, all the standard stuff plus rarer ones such as jalapenos, grilled onions or mushrooms and hot sauce, all free. A burger, fries and soda will run you about $10.

Your order comes in a paper bag. Even the regular fries ($2.59; $3.89 for a large) filled a cup with twice as much more in the bottom of the bag. They’re good, very potato-like. In the hubbub we overlooked the option of Cajun fries, darnit; others rave about them.

The standard burger turns out to be two patties; the menu’s “little hamburger” is one. It was fresh and filling. But the presentation looked sloppy and the burger is messy if you get a lot of toppings, which I did. I will go back, but my initial take is that I prefer the tidier offerings (and less hectic atmosphere) of Fatburger and the Habit, not to mention In N Out.

My friends were less ambivalent. (We’ll ignore the one who got the veggie sandwich, which was a bun with a bunch of vegetables on it.) One praised the peanuts as a welcome touch and the fries as excellent. The other said: “I would give this a thumbs-up over In N Out. I thought this burger was tastier. But In N Out sure has a shorter wait.”

* Update: I returned later in April for a single burger with ketchup, mustard, pickles and onions and found this simpler burger neatly presented and quite good. The Cajun fries were a nice change. However, the music remained far too loud and I couldn’t concentrate on the book I’d brought. Five Guys has its uses, but it’s just too pumped up for me.

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  • DebB

    My brother, who lives in San Jose, was just telling me about Five Guys — apparently opened originally by 5 brothers. I guess there are a couple of restaurants up there, and he and his wife like the burgers. I remember him comparing the decor to In-n-Out, but I don’t remember if they prefer the burgers at one place over the other. I do remember my sister-in-law bemoaning the lack of milkshakes!

  • Bob House

    Tried “Guys” here in Phoenix. Not impressed. Been eating INO since the 60s, 5 Guys isn’t close; Fatburger better than 5 too.

    Trying a new place today in Phoenix — offshoot of Grimaldi’s Brick Oven Pizza from NY. The pizza is superb, but what I’m trying is their new “coal oven” burger place. If it’s half as good as their pizza, my INO allegiance may be challenged.

  • http://www.beauteousdesign.blogspot.com Janet

    Ate at the 5 Guys in Mira Loma on Wednesday. It was really good, but it’s different than In N Out, I don’t think In N Out will lose any business to 5 Guys.

    I didn’t experience the long wait, but my husband and a friend went to the same location on Wednesday night and waited about 15 minutes for their order, he was really put off by the wait, but enjoyed the burger. I don’t think he will be going back because of the wait and no drive thru. ;)

    [I should've noted the lack of drive thru in my writeup. -- DA]

  • shirley wofford

    I first met “In-N-Out” at the original little stand where we lived, in Baldwin Park, in 1957, and would never abandon it to even try another. This “5 Guys” would definitely lose out to “In-N-0ut” in the Presentation category. “In-N-Out” bakes its own buns. This bun looks unappetizing and like it was pulled out of a bag, from the supermarket shelf.

  • matt

    shirley as a wise man once said dont speak till you experience i never tried 5 guys yet but you should not speak at all unless you know from experience i have been waiting weeks to try their food but i refuse to wait in line no matter whether it’s 11am or 10pm theres always a line and too many a word to the wise in life NEVER speak unless you’re experienced.

  • shirley wofford

    Matt, I’d rather trade on your experience, than drive up to RC, needlessly. I assume you were already exposed to “In-N-Out” years ago, so please write on David’s blog again, and let me know if “5 Guys” has a chance against them. I am already taking it for granted, that there is no contest, when it comes to the buns. If you’ve been waiting for weeks, what’s an hour or two in line. You meet people that way.

  • Wimpy

    Oh man, this is like comparing one’s kids. Both burgers have their own merits and characteristics. Five Guys is more “home” style. In N Out is more “Hometown So Cal” Style.

    And let’s be fair – “messiness” shouldn’t even be a criteria for judging any burger – whether home made or fast food – because it will always be messy if too many toppings are added by the indecisive when suddenly faced with a dozen free toppings. Whether Five Guys with 5 toppings or an I-N-O 4×4 animal style, there will be messiness.

    Oh, and for those that miss a milk shake with their double bacon cheeseburger with 6 toppings and heaping bag-o-fries, I’m impressed.

  • Will Plunkett

    I WENT THERE TODAY, BUT THE MUSIC WAS TOO LOUD TO HEAR ANYBODY TALK.

    WHAT? Oh, sorry; don’t have to yell anymore.

    Food was tasty (Baby Bacon Cheeseburger, shared large non-cajun fries) and filling. They’re not bad, but I like a little quieter and calmer eating environment, so I may wait a while to return.

    [I hear you (so to speak). -- DA]

  • Doug Evans

    I’m the guy quoted in the last line of the review! Sorry, In-N-Out, for the unflattering comparison… I still love you! I eat at you once a month! But I gotta say, my comment above is my honest opinion… I don’t know if it’s through over-familiarity, or if their recipe has changed over the years, but In-N-Out’s burgers seem to have become slightly less tasty over the years, and I really liked the one I had at Five Guys. But, man, that was a heck of a line at Five Guys. Good times, though!

    [Indeed. And, per Shirley's "hour or two" guesstimate, we probably weren't in line more than 15 minutes. It doesn't take long to order a meal, after all. Although it seemed to in Doug's case. -- DA]

  • DebB

    I just discovered that you can go to their website and place your order, then pick it up without waiting.

  • Doug Evans

    It… it did take me a while to figure out how to place an order. With a long line of increasingly frustrated people behind me…

    [And a couple of puzzled friends off to the side, chuckling. -- DA]

  • Charles Quinn

    They do not season their meat, burgers are overcooked to the dry stage. Fries are good, best is they have malt vinegar for them.

    Will stick to EZ Take Out first, In-N-Out second. EZ has way better fries than INO.

  • Ron Q

    Definitely OVERCOOKED.

    Otherwise it was OK. I liked the fries.

    But WAY OVERCOOKED.