13 Jan Dining Out | Burger and Fries Hit the Spot at Five Guys
NEWSPAPER: PEORIA JOURNAL STAR
AUTHOR: STEVE TARTER
PEORIA — Franchise America heard your cry for a hefty hamburger and fresh fries and the result is Five Guys Burgers and Fries, a chain that recently opened an outlet at Westlake Shopping Center.
Your basic hamburger at Five Guys doesn’t come cheap ($4.99), but it’s more than a mouthful. You get two patties of fresh meat and can design your own creation by choosing from a massive list of toppings: mayonnaise, relish, onions (raw and grilled), lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, grilled mushrooms, ketchup, mustard, peppers (green and jalapeno), A1 steak sauce, barbecue sauce and hot sauce.
Then there are the twice-cooked fries. You can get a regular order ($2.69) or a large one ($4.99) — but don’t go for the big size unless you’re feeding a high school basketball team. Cajun fries are also available.
The bacon cheeseburger is the big guy on the Five Guys menu, both in weight and in price ($6.39). A smaller version — with just one patty — is available for $4.99.
We visited on a weekday lunch hour and the restaurant was hopping. You place your order from a minimal menu reminiscent of the early McDonald’s when burgers were just 15 cents: there are only burgers, fries and hot dogs (along with a veggie sandwich and a grilled cheese). Then, you wait for them to call your order number.
Two associates from work joined me to sample the fare. They ordered the regular cheeseburger ($5.59) and its little brother ($4.19) while I opted for the kosher hot dog ($3.39). We all had a regular order of fries and a drink (they serve Coke products).
Once we secured a table (not always easy with the large crowds they’ve experienced since opening last month), it was time to dine.
My dining partners had no complaints about burgers that are grilled while you wait. Everything is fresh cooked which is part of this chain’s appeal. The meat is moist and tender and the so-called regular-sized burger is massive. If you run it through the garden (the term for ordering a burger with everything), you’d need a mouth bigger than Rush Limbaugh to handle it all.
While the burgers were as good as billed, my hot dog came sliced in half amid all the trimmings. I’m sure they have their reasons but I don’t know if I’m in favor of a divided dog.
We added malt vinegar to the fries. A nice touch. And, yes, they have plenty of ketchup for traditionalists.
The atmosphere at Five Guys is informal. All food is packaged in brown bags that you haul home or take to your table. Not that you’re likely to wait long for your order, but free peanuts are available for snacking.
The dining room is shrouded in red and white — from the many signs on the wall (“It’s all about the burgers,” screams one) down to the tables and chairs.
Fifty-pound bags of potatoes are stacked in the aisle along with 35-pound containers of peanut oil, some of the raw materials used on the Five Guys assembly line that employs three people just to make the fries.
With Five Guys as busy as it is, there’s a nice urban feel to the place. Things move right along despite the traffic. The goal is to go from fresh to cooked in seven minutes, said a friendly employee who brought us a sample of the spicy cajun fries (I preferred the regular).
There’s a nice vibe here. When my number was called, another employee not only thanked me for the order but wished me a happy new year.
Judging from the customers’ response so far, it looks like it will be a good year for the Five Guys at Westlake.
Five Guys Burgers and Fries
2601 W. Lake Ave.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week.
Ratings: ★★★★ is highest
Prices: Burgers, $3.59 to $6.39; hot dogs,
$3.39 to $4.79; veggie sandwich, $2.39; grilled
cheese sandwich, $2.99; fries, $2.69 to $4.99;
drinks, $1.79 to $1.99.
Miscellaneous: Carry out available; credit