Overpriced Hype: Five Guys Burgers and Fries

Two years after opening its first restaurant in the UK, I ventured out to Five Guys to see what everyone’s talking about. Since starting in the Washington D.C. area in 1986, Five Guys have become one of the hottest players in the fast food scene. Today, with over 1,500 new restaurants in development worldwide, it already seems they are everywhere in London.

I was walking near Carnaby Street looking for potential options for a quick lunch. Lo and behold, another Five Guys restaurant greeted me around the corner. Thinking it would probably be absolutely rammed with people having lunch, I was surprised to see it half empty and walked in.

Three out of four tills were taking orders and the kitchen behind it was full of staff. I made my order – a cheeseburger(£8.00) with mayo, ketchup and tomatoes, small fries (£2.75) and a soft drink (£2.50) – paid and received an order number. Unlike many takeaway joints these days, there’s no screen to show how long you’ll need to wait. Instead, Five Guys relies on old-fashioned shouting when your order is ready for collection from the counter.

The Coca-Cola Freestyle machines dish out 100+ Coca-Cola Company brands/flavours. Since the refills are free, you can easily try them all out and find your favourite. As for the presentation of the food, they rely on the hobo-style brown paper bags. Inside you will find your burger wrapped in foil and a paper cup full of fries. Mind you, I had the small portion of fries which was easily twice the amount you’ll get at McDonald’s.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries presentation - a paper bag

What about the taste?

The fries were decent, but I still prefer the ones at my local chicken shop. Maybe it is the peanut oil they use at Five Guys what makes the fries taste “healthy”. The burger, on the other hand, was juicy and succulent. I’d put it in the top 10 of all burgers I’ve had to-date. You can add 15 different toppings to your burger (for free), so there are quite a few ways you can have yours.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries cheeseburger

Paying over £13 for a burger and a portion of fries does seem a bit much, especially when it’s handed to you in a nondescript paper bag instead of served on a plate. Clearly the concept works and the tasty burgers bring in the people, but it still seems overpriced to me. Under £10 would much more reasonable. Five Guys are quickly turning into a Starbucks with new franchises popping up in every street corner. The hype won’t last forever.