Anytime I hear a lot of hype about anything, I'm skeptical. Especially when it comes to restaurants that is supposed to be the "Next Big Thing." When it was announced that Five Guys Burgers and Fries was coming to Memphis, a lot of my friends were excited that the burger chain was coming to town. Despite my skepticism, I decided to reserve judgment until I had a chance to try it myself.
Even though my intention was to only visit the Memphis franchise, my first experience with a Five Guys burger was in Nashville. For my order, I decided to get a cheeseburger and a regular order of fries. Not familiar with Five Guys, I didn't know that a "regular" cheeseburger and French fries would turn out to actually be a double cheeseburger and a HUGE amount of fries. When I saw the amount of French fries that came with a "regular" order, I was astounded. Clearly, there were enough fries for at least two people. The fries allegedly come in a cup, but it's actually two cups (at least), with the other "cup" being the bag itself. I felt like I was ordering a French Fry dinner with a side of cheeseburger, instead of the other way around. The fries, cooked in peanut oil, were pretty good overall, for they were fresh, buttery, lightly salted and not too crispy. The texture of the fries was kind of like a baked potato in that it was soft and chewy, and not overcooked. By the way, I want to stress that I got the "Five Guy" flavor of fries; the other option that is offered is Cajun style. My only complaint was the amount of fries was more than I needed to accompany my cheeseburger, and I had to compel myself into eating the rest while I walked back to my car.
As for the burger, it was okay by most standards. The beef patties were the typical seasoned, griddle-fried kind that could be found in most places, so it didn't standout in terms of flavor. In fact, despite that the cheeseburger consisted of two 1/4 lb. beef patties, there was so much lettuce and tomato on it that I had a hard time determining how good the burger really was. After removing some of the lettuce, I got a better sense of the burger, and my impression of it was that it was decent, but not exceptional. I came away with an initial impression of Five Guys as a decent yet overhyped burger joint that is really pricey. My meal, which didn't include a soda, cost $9.27, which is a bit much, although I got double (maybe triple) the amount of fries that I'm normally accustom to, so the cost didn't seem too out of whack. However, I made a note to order less for my Memphis visit.
During my visit to the Memphis restaurant, I decided to get a "little" bacon cheeseburger and, to satisfy my curiosity, another "regular" order of fries. When I got this order, I might have gotten more fries than my Nashville visit, for I clearly had enough for three people. However, I only needed to skim the top of my cup to get the amount of fries that I needed to go with my bacon cheeseburger. Speaking of my "little" bacon cheeseburger, which actually is the size of a normal burger with one 1/4 lb. beef patty, was pretty good. In order to enhance my eating pleasure, I made sure to include mayo, grilled mushrooms and grilled onions to my burger, something that I didn't do on my Nashville visit. Those additions made a big difference, for it really enhanced the burger's taste, especially the sautéed onions (I'm kind of curious if Five Guys uses peanut oil to sauté their veggies, for the onions seemed like it was cooked in another kind of oil, given how sweet they were). Overall, this meal made a better impression on me, although at $8.50 (without a soda), it was still pricey.
After making visits to two franchises in two cities, my overall impression of Five Guys Burgers and Fries is mildly positive. For a fast food restaurant, the prices are a bit high, but given the amount of fries that come with one order, I would advise dining there with at least one other person who could share in the purchase of the French fries, which should lower cost. With a "regular" order of fries costing $2.79, splitting that between two or three people is very cost efficient. Also, if a diner doesn't desire a burger, Five Guys also serves hot dogs which are slightly cheaper that their burgers. Because of the cost involved in a typical meal, I won't give a full endorsement of Five Guys, but for those who dine in groups and families, I believe it's worthy of at least one visit.