This past Friday evening, we were in the mood for burgers so we decided to try out the new Five Guys Famous Burgers and Fries in University Collection Mall on Fowler near USF. I had first heard about Five Guys a few weeks ago in an enthusiastic email from fellow Sticksian, Joel. Since then, I'd read another glowing review about the newly opened Tampa location of this award-winning and Zagat-rated Alexanderia, Va. based old-school burger and fries joint.
When we arrived at Five Guys last Friday, we had the place almost to ourselves. The menu is simple - burgers, fries and hot dogs- no fancy combos or happy meals here. I decided upon a cheeseburger "all the way" (you get to pick from a mess of toppings at no additional charge) and Traci went with a hamburger with fried onions, relish, pickles and mustard. We also ordered a regular order of fries (cajun-style is also available), which we were told would be enough for two of us- it was and then some. Peanuts are available while you wait for your order to come up.
While my burger was tasty, the real star was the french fries, which Traci and I both agreed are some of the best fries we've ever had. I learned later from reading the reviews on the wall that nothing is ever frozen at Five Guys and the fries are cut fresh daily. It sure tasted like it. As for my burger, the two beef patties were tasty and I liked the mix of toppings, although I'll skip the sauteed mushrooms next time. Our only complaint with our burgers were the flimsy buns. While I love a messy burger, the bun quickly fell apart. A toasted, firmer bun would have been much better.
The counter service was friendly and everyone aimed to please. As we finished up our meal, business picked up. Five Guys is walk-in only. No drive-through. The Fowler location at least also serves bottled beer. There is also a new Five Guys open at the Brandon Town Center Mall and one about to open on Kennedy and Dale Mabry. Additional locations are planned for Carrollwood, New Tampa, Riverview and Oldsmar. It remains to be seen if Five Guys can maintain its quality and uniqueness as it expands up and down the east coast with plans for 1,000 locations eventually.
My favorite local burger remains the Chattaburger at The Chattaway in St. Pete, but in terms of fast-food burger joints (and I sort of hate to even put Five Guys in this category), it's hard to beat a burger from Five Guys. It's definitely worth giving a try. So what's your favorite local burger joint?
Bottom-line: If you're looking for a no-frills burger joint that focuses on serving great burgers and fries at fast-food prices, but with home-cooked taste and freshness, Five Guys is worth giving a try.
Inspection Scorecard: Last Inspection - November 2006 - Violations - Critical (3), Non-Critical (2).