Northside SF  

Get Outta Town:
Five Guys Burgers and Fries
By Susan Dyer Reynolds

President Obama's favorite burger joint comes
to the Bay Area and knocks In-N-Out off its
fast-food burger throne
If the name “Five Guys” sounds familiar, it’s probably because President Barack Obama makes surprise lunchtime visits to one near the White House (he likes his cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, jalapeno peppers, and mustard) and First Lady Michelle Obama has admitted to sneaking in for a burger unnoticed. The chain has around 400 franchises throughout the United States but still remains unheralded in San Francisco, probably because the closest location is 23 miles away in Pleasant Hill. There is also a Five Guys in a strip mall in San Jose, so on my way to drop my dad’s girlfriend, Kickie, home after Thanksgiving, we stopped in to check it out.

Kickie is a huge fan of In-N-Out Burger, so she was skeptical. The place was packed and the line was long, so Kickie grabbed a seat while I ordered at the counter. While we waited, I filled a little brown cardboard tray with Five Guys’s signature roasted peanuts from a giant barrel – I must have been hungry, because those were the best danged peanuts I’ve ever eaten. Ditto for the burger. That’s right, Five Guys blew away In-N-Out and moved to the top of my list as the best burger on the planet under five bucks. And unlike In-N-Out, their fries are edible.

The menu at Five Guys is as simple as it gets: regular or large-sized hamburgers, cheeseburgers, bacon burgers, and bacon cheeseburgers; three sandwiches (veggie, cheese veggie and grilled cheese); hot dogs (Kosher style, cheese dog, bacon dog, bacon cheese dog); fries or Cajun fries; and sodas (sorry, no shakes).

So what makes Five Guys burgers so special? It’s that just-right ratio of toppings (all are free and range from grilled onions and mushrooms to green peppers and barbecue sauce); a perfectly soft, squishy bun; and a patty as thick and juicy as you’ll find in gourmet shops where burgers cost twice as much. The fries are big and fat with a crisp exterior and soft, almost creamy inside – if you’re not a French fry fan, try the Cajun-seasoned version; it’s just spicy enough and takes fries to a whole new level.

Since my trip to Five Guys, I have to admit I’ve been dreaming about that burger. The good news is that Kickie came up for Christmas, too, which meant another visit; but truth be told, I’d happily drive 20 miles or more to get my hands on the world’s most perfect fast-food burger.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries: 121 Curtner Avenue, Suite 60, San Jose, 408-293-9801,; open daily 11 a.m.–10 p.m.
                                                                                                                      – S. Reynolds

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