Five Guys Burgers and Fries built its cult following in the Washington, D.C., metro area and has been spreading the mania far and wide, including—thank heaven!—to two locations here. Michelle Obama treated her staff to a Five Guys luncheon not long after she arrived in Washington, which just goes to show what good sense she has.
The menu is simplicity itself, although the owners maintain there are 250,000 permutations of its basic burger. The hand-shaped burger patties—the meat, like everything, is fresh—are slapped on the grill when you order. Fries come from big buckets of freshly sliced Idaho potatoes. The basic "Little Hamburger" (which isn’t little at all) starts at $3.29, topped with anything from grilled onions and A-1 Sauce to jalapeño peppers and
hot sauce. Make it a cheeseburger (really, you must) for another 40 cents. I like mine with mustard, pickle and raw onion, but Colette gilds the lily with sliced tomato and grilled mushrooms. If you’re really hungry, the standard burger ($4.39, $4.99 with cheese) doubles the beef.
Do not fail to accompany the burger with an order of monumentally good fries. A sane person can get by with the regular order ($2.59), or, like me, you can go nuts and wallow in the large for $3.99. These hot from the no-trans-fat peanut oil beauties overflow their styrofoam cup and practically jump into your mouth.
In place of a wine list there’s a Coke list that hits all the right notes, from Classic Coke to my favorite Cherry Coke. Other soft drinks, bottled water and very good iced tea are available, too.
I predict one Five Guys lunch will make you an addict. Get your fix at 8447 Cooper Creek Blvd. in the University Park neighborhood (941-358-7900), or on your way to the beach at 6783 Manatee Ave. W. in Bradenton (941-794-3700).
An editor, writer and online publisher, John Bancroft has reviewed restaurants, books, movies and music for many magazines, Web sites and newspapers, most recently for the
St. Petersburg Times.