The Polaris-area burger joint satisfies on a visceral level but not much beyond that.
The burger is a survivor, weathering every economy and food trend.
True, people have their favorites, but the fundamentally American invention almost always tastes the same no matter where you go.
So why all the hype surrounding Five Guys Burgers and Fries, the Washington, D.C.-born burger joint that recently opened in the Polaris
And I thought Sonic was bad. (Actually, I thought Sonic was good, but lines around the building? C'mon.)
Five Guys takes on a largely cafeteria look, with white and red tiles and lots of commendations from various media sources lining the walls.
The setting is somewhat sterile but clean, with handfuls of peanuts available in various places throughout the dining room.
The optimist and skeptic in me tore themselves to shreds over the place, which deserves some credit and some criticism for its
much-ballyhooed product. In short, it's better than most fast food for two reasons: the beef is never frozen and burgers are cooked to order.
On the other hand, it's not cheap. A burger with two all-American beef patties, a small pop and fries will set you back $10.33 for a dine-in
The regular cheeseburgers ($5.19) are good, developing a nice crust on the flattop grill. Despite being cooked too well, they're moist inside.
Toppings are varied. I kept it simple with crisp lettuce, fresh tomato, pickles, ketchup and mustard. The bun is average, soft and studded with
sesame seeds. Don't get too many toppings, lest you lose the flavor of the meat.
As for the fries, they are so copiously allotted, the portion seems more caricaturish than generous, especially for a country struggling with
obesity. I opted for a small ($2.69), enough for two people to share, and couldn't image how big a large ($3.99) would be.
On a style note, the oversized portion spills out of its Styrofoam cup on top of the foil-wrapped burger, which rests on the bottom of the bag.
So, you have to send your arm down a bag full of hot, greasy potatoes to get to your main course, or tear the bag. Neither is a good option if
you're eating in your car. Not that you should eat in your car, necessarily, but people do it.
As for the fries, cooked in 100 percent peanut oil, they're fresh cut, greasy, clumped together (in some cases) and somewhat crunchy, with a nutty aroma. Verdict: Good, but nothing truly special.
Large burgers clearly are the thing, but there are a couple of other edibles, for example, a "little" cheeseburger ($3.99) and decent
kosher-style hot dog ($3.19).
Local folks aren't likely to trade their allegiances for places such as Thurman Caf for the likes of Five Guys. It's a good place to eat but not
remotely deserving of the insane amount of praise it's received.
Hope you found it easier to reconcile your inner camps than I did.
Reservations: Not accepted
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily