Five Guys: East Coast burger meets West Coast appetite

When I was an angsty teenager in Temecula, I got a job at Burger King.  Somewhere in those 2 years, I stopped eating hamburgers.  Maybe it was my failed effort to go “vegetarian” late Junior year or maybe it was over-exposure to frozen beef patties.  Either way, I just sort of fell off the fast-food burger bandwagon, opting only to eat them from sit-down restaurants or indulge in a cheeseburger from In-n-Out on a rare occasion.  Yup, In-n-Out became my one exception to my no fast-food hamburger rule.  I admit, they make a pretty darn good burger but I can’t say I ever reached that fanatical level some people seem to have for the place. But they never had any competition in my book as to where to go for a great and cheap classic burger…till now.  Enter into the ring Five Guys Burger & Fries.  All the way from the East Coast, this franchise is expanding across the States and I have to say, after my first visit, In-n-Out could be facing its first major opponent.

Husband and I decided to try out this place when we saw a sign for it while hitting up IKEA in Carson.  I had seen the sign before but never really took notice until a friend mentioned them to me on FB in reply to an In-n-Out comment I had made.  Husband thought that a burger sounded good for dinner and made an executive decision.  Driving around Southbay Pavilion, it turned out Five Guys was on the other side of the shopping center from where we saw the sign; it’s over by Sears.

Outside

Inside

Register

I was a little doubtful as the place looked a little empty and it was already 7pm.  When I approached the door, I saw a lady walking out with a brown paper bag that had grease stains forming on the bottom.  Hrm…cautiously regaining hope…  When we walked in, the decor looked very In-n-Out with red and white tiles and a simple menu hanging over the registers.   The dining room was about a 1/3 full but it wasn’t exactly a big space.

I looked at the menu; it was divided into Burgers, Little Burgers, Dogs and Sandwiches.  Turns out the Burgers are double patties while the Little Burgers are singles.  The big difference I saw right off the bat…BACON.  Yup, they offer up bacon hamburgers and cheeseburgers.  Husband was leaping for joy, figuratively.  As for the dogs, you can get a straight up Kosher dog, cheese dog, bacon dog or bacon cheese dog.  I did briefly wonder why the rest of the dogs weren’t Kosher…but just for a split second.  😛  The sandwiches are the vegetarian options – veggie with or without cheese (not a veggie patty but rather, various vegetable toppings) and grilled cheese.

My burger, a little smooshed

Let's see what's inside

All burgers are initially plain and there is a list of toppings you can choose from.  Mayo, lettuce, ketchup, mustard, grilled or fresh onions, tomatoes, pickles, bbq sauce, jalapeno peppers, grilled mushrooms, relish, A-1 sauce or hot sauce are your choices and none of them cost extra.  I opted for a little bacon cheeseburger with bbq sauce, jalapenos, lettuce and tomatoes.  Hubby went for a bacon cheeseburger with bbq sauce.

The burger was juicy and flavorful.  I love the fact that sesame seed buns were used.  The bacon was crispy and the ratio of toppings to burger to bun was spot on.  I could taste everything without any one thing overpowering the others…well, until I bit into a jalapeno that was super hot.  I ended up picking them out. I really must be losing my spicy tolerance as I get older… I think I’m going to skip the jalapenos next time and do the grilled onions.  Yum.

Regular fries

Cajun fries

Five Guys offers two sizes of fries done two ways: Five Guys (regular) and Cajun-seasoned. Husband originally ordered a large Cajun-seasoned but the cashier told him that was big enough for 4 people.  He went with the regular size. I got a regular order of  regular fries which could easily be split between two people.  Their fries were natural-cut and cooked in 100% peanut oil.  The Cajun seasoning had a little bit of kick to it, really nice!  Their regular fries were good too and I munched my bucket down to near empty. I am a french fry fiend!!  Husband didn’t fare too well in making a dent in his due to the double-patty burger.  He said next time, he’ll get a single so he could fit more fries in his belly.  Also, they have a little board next to the fryer that states where the potatoes come from.  Kinda of neat!

As for drinks, it’s only fountain drinks, no shakes.  That really made me sad.  One of the things I look forward to when I’m about to indulge in a greasy burger is a delicious shake.  Cuz, you know, if you’re going to be bad, you mind as well be evil.  But Five Guys does get points for having cherry Coke…

While we were eating, more people did come in.  It seems that the majority of them did to-go orders though.  So while the dining room wasn’t crowded, business seems to be going well for Five Guys.

A neat thing to note is that on the receipt taped to the bag, it numbers each burger and the burger wrappers have a sticker put on them with a number so you can tell which burger belongs to who.

In case you were wondering, yes, I was doing a comparison between Five Guys and In-n-Out in my head the entire time I was nomming.  I have to say, the burger at Five Guys squeaks ahead because of the sesame bun and the bacon option.  I think the burgers here are a little bigger too and have a little bit more flavor.  As for fries, Five Guys is way better than In-n-Out.  They are cut thicker and were crisper and more cooked thru.  Five Guys does lose points with me, though, for not having any shakes.  Price-wise, I think the two are comparable.  The Little bacon cheeseburger costs $4.69 while the double is $5.59.  As for wait time, Five Guys is much better as every single In-n-Out that I have been to or driven by here in LA is always packed inside and out.

I think Five Guys wins over In-n-Out.  Is that blasphemy?  Please don’t sic the Spanish Inquisition on me…  Send it over to Husband.  He can’t stand In-n-Out.

4 NOMs for Five Guys!

Five Guys Burger & Fries
20700 Avalon Blvd
Carson, CA 90746
(310) 515-7700
Five Guys Burgers and Fries on Urbanspoon

Beef at The Counter – El Segundo

Since my first visit to The Counter in Marina Del Rey, the place has really grown on me.  Over the weekend, the husband and I went to the El Segundo location for dinner.

I tried their beef burger again, opting to use an English muffin as the bun and topped it with mixed greens, tomato, grilled onions, Gruyere and peppercorn sauce.  I have to say, this time around, the burger was better and tastier.  The peppercorn sauce is a real winner.  I am also a fan of the horseradish mayo.  It has a good kick to it and is a great dip for the sweet potato fries…or regular fries!  Considering I’m not a huge mayo fan, that says a lot.  I think I’ll be using the English muffin again.  It’s just the right amount of bread and the toasted state gives a nice crunch texture-wise.

I also got a shake.  I wasn’t in the mood for apple pie so I combined peanut butter and banana.  A classic combo and oh so tasty!  The peanut butter was a little heavy and masked the banana a little; the PB hit your taste-buds first but once that went away, you could taste the banana.

I have to say, a 1/3lb burger, shake and fries is really filling.  Two burgers, an order of fries and two shakes set us back about $36 and change.  It sounds a little steep but these aren’t fast food burgers.

And as extra incentive to go visit this place, every Wednesday night, this location offers 4 slider-beer pairings for $12.  I haven’t tried this as I’m not a big beer person.  However, if they ever offer up slider-shake pairings, you can be sure I’ll be there!

Apologies for the lack of pictures but I was starving and it was either die or eat.  I chose to eat….

The Counter – El Segundo gets 4 NOMs.

The Counter
700-A Allied Way
El Segundo, CA 90245
(310) 524-9967
http://www.thecounterburger.com
The Counter on Urbanspoon

Honey’s where it’s at for finger-licking goodness

Forget Kentucky Fried Chicken…KFC stands for Kettle Fried Chicken!  I’ve been here twice and so far, mmm mmm finger lickin’ good.

First time around, I opted for their chicken strips meal. They don’t make these until you order so be prepared to wait a while. The 2nd time around, I opted for their 2-piece meal which was served up a lot faster since the chicken pieces are already cooked and sitting under a heat lamp. The strips are super juicy and have a great crunchy coating. For chicken that’s been tanning, the 2-piece was still crispy n’ moist. I wouldn’t mind a little more kick to their batter mixture but overall, I would say these were definitely better than what you get at the Colonel’s. The fried chicken here is greasier, though, which just makes it all the more better. I mean, if you’re gonna eat fried chicken, you mind as well eat FRIED chicken, y’know?

The 2-piece meal (choice of breast, leg, thigh, drumstick…though isn’t the leg and drumstick the same? Ask them. *shrug*) comes with fries and a biscuit as well as a side of sweet pickles. It’s $8.change which is on the pricier side but considering how much food you get, it’s actually worth it.  The pieces are HUGE.  It’s hard to finish the entire thing.  For $9, you can get the 2 breasts option.  Split the fries and order an extra biscuit and you have a meal fit for 2 people.

The fries are not quite steak fries but are meatier than regular fries and are coated with a nice spice (paprika?). The biscuits here are bigger than KFC’s and are fluffy with a nicely browned exterior. Drizzle on some honey and OMG… Biscuits like how Mama used to make them.  That is, I imagine that they would be like that if I were from the South and had a “Mama” that made biscuits…  My mama makes rice instead.

They have a pump station with honey, hot sauce and secret sauce. The secret sauce seems to be a blend of sweet n’ spicy and it’s oh so good for adding a little kick to the chicken.

There’s no fountain soda service; you order bottles. They have some sort of cola, Bubble Up, grape soda…

There’s an array of other stuff on the menu including sweet potato pie.  I have yet to try anything else beyond that…yet.  Stay tuned for an update cuz I’m sure I’ll be going back there again.

Honey’s KFC gets 4 NOMs and a lot of finger-licking…and used napkins.

Honey’s Kettle Fried Chicken
9537 Culver Boulevard
Culver City, CA 90232
(310) 202-5453
Honey's Kettle on Urbanspoon