Review: Five Guys Burgers and Fries

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Columbus, Restaurant Review

As a rule, I generally don’t review chains. This is primarily because I prefer to promote the little guys who don’t have the huge ad budget and give more attention to independent restaurants. Additionally, it’s because when you’re dealing with chains, you can only review the particular location you frequent. Case in point – one of our local chains, Las Margaritas. I’ve always had great meals at the one on Henderson, but nothing but bad luck at the one on Frantz. And I’ve never had a good meal at Applebee’s or Ruby Tuesday. But it wouldn’t be fair for me to disparage a whole chain based on my experience at one or two or a half dozen. So, with that being said, let me just say that what I’m saying applies to the location in Columbus, Ohio only. Your mileage may vary at your Five Guys in New Jersey or Maryland or Virginia or wherever.

Ever since they opened about a month ago, I’ve been hearing mixed reviews about Five Guys. About half the people I’ve talked to said that it sucked, they were completely overrated, and that they were never going back. The other half said it was the best burger they’ve ever had. So how can one person have an almost religious experience with a burger, and another rather chew off their own arm rather than eat there again? I determined it was my duty to go find out for myself.

We walked in there not knowing what to expect. It certainly wasn’t the cafeteria/mall food court scene we got. I’m no stranger to the whole “order at the counter, we’ll call you when your food is ready” type of dining, but the feeling I got was of a place that was pretty much stripped of any personality at all. Seriously. Sterile white walls, the line snaking labyrinth-style through bags of potatoes and peanuts, inching closer and closer until you get to the front of the queue before you’re directed to the next open cashier the way you would be in a bank lobby. The cashiers/order takers were clearly reading from a script, in a distinct monotone that belied their boredom. They seemed almost exasperated if you asked a question. My question about what kind of cheese they had was met with a snappish “no choice. Just American”. So we ordered and paid, no problem, right?

I got back to the table, and sat down and looked at the receipt. They had charged us for an order of large fries (which serves 4) vs. an order of regular (which serves 2). I distinctly heard my husband order the regular size, so I went back up to the cashier to fix the problem. She sort of shrugged it off and got her manager. By the time I had fixed the problem (by them refunding the difference, and putting in a separate order for the regular size), someone had cleared my still empty beverage cup, napkins, and ketchup cups off the table I was sitting at. Grrr.

So our order comes up, and we go up to the counter to get it. I had already been aware that they don’t cook their burgers to order, that they’ll only serve them well done (I’m more of a medium rare girl myself), but I was assured that their well done was still juicy.

Greasy might be a better word for it. My burger was a hot mess. I ordered it with cheese, sauteed onions and mayo, A1 on the side, and when I opened it up, in the matter of the few seconds it had taken me to get it, the grease had totally saturated the bun, making it totally unstable for holding up to the burger. But I soldiered on, praying that I’d be able to make it through eating it without wearing it. The taste was fine, though. Just not my ideal burger.

My Burger from Five Guys

My husband’s burger fared a little better. He got his with cheese, lettuce, onion, tomato, mustard, ketchup and pickles. The veggies acted as a barrier to the grease in his case, so his was a bit better. Still more well done than we prefer, but acceptable.

Burger from Five Guys

At least the fries were good. After we dealt with the fry fiasco, we found out that a regular size is indeed a perfect amount of fries for 2 people, as the cup that the order is in overflows significantly into the bag.

Fries from Five Guys

We felt rushed, the atmosphere was awkward because it always felt like there was someone hovering over us waiting to bus our table (even though we are self-bussers for the most part). It just wasn’t my thing. Totally didn’t live up to the hype for me, and I don’t see myself returning. Especially not when I can think of at least a dozen burger places in town (non-chain) that will not only cook a burger to order, but actually allow you different topping/cheese choices and service without the snarl.

Again, your mileage may vary. It’s one of those places you either love or hate. Place our checkmark fully in the “hated it” column.

If you’d like to go: Five Guys Burgers and Fries, 2134 Polaris Parkway, Columbus. 614.436.5550

Five Guys on Urbanspoon

40 Responses to “Review: Five Guys Burgers and Fries”

  1. Paul Ferrara Says:

    Ugh! Well-done burgers! That's why I almost never order a burger out. It's too easy to fire up the grill and cook my own. Good pictures though. lol

  2. Paul Ferrara Says:

    Ugh! Well-done burgers! That's why I almost never order a burger out. It's too easy to fire up the grill and cook my own. Good pictures though. lol

  3. Kathleen Says:

    I'm sad you had such a bad experience! Five Guys is our favorite place for burgers here in Fort Myers. We love that it's plain and simple, one patty or two, cheese or no cheese, etc. I love the free toppings (especially the grilled onions), and we really love the soft potato bread. The fries are fresh-cut and fried to order – yum. But perhaps it's just that we don't really have great restaurants down here… that's totally a possibility. Weird about the people hovering… that would be unnerving. Like you say, locations vary. Thanks for your reviews!

  4. elizabeth lessner Says:

    love that first picture!

  5. paula Says:

    That's actually good for me to hear. We just got one of these in the general area but my son is allergic to peanuts so it's a no-go anyway.

  6. Stephanie Says:

    I'm so sorry you didn't like it! I first ate at a Five Guys in the Outer Banks and was so excited when they opened on Polaris. I've only been there a couple times but could go every week. I understand what you're saying but for me their burgers on high on my list.

  7. Russ Jackson Says:

    Does not sound like you have even tried them. Great Place excellent burger.

  8. Paul Ferrara Says:

    I don't have to try them to know what a well-done burger is. Le's say we differ on what an "excellent burger" is.

  9. M Stanton Says:

    People, please read the China Study and Diet for New America and then see if u can go back for a fat-filled, cancer-causing, shredded mound of flesh

    China Study:

    The findings? “People who ate the most animal-based foods got the most chronic disease … People who ate the most plant-based foods were the healthiest and tended to avoid chronic disease. These results could not be ignored,” said Dr. Campbell.

  10. columbusfoodie Says:

    Regarding your claims of the findings on the China Study, many of your concerns have been debunked here:
    http://www.beyondveg.com/billings-t/comp-anat/com

    I think in my prior blog posts on vegetarianism/veganism, I mentioned that while I respect it as a lifestyle choice for other people, it's not one that I choose to embrace myself, nor one that would be healthy for me given my unique circumstances (PCOS, higher protein needs due to a malabsorptive surgery). What rubs me the wrong way, however, is when people who adhere to that type of lifestyle make judgments on those who don't.

    Even if the data in the study were correct (which it isn't – see link above), what people choose to eat is their own business. I firmly believe that moderation is the key. Meat (especially lean meat), as part of a balanced diet, IS healthy. Any diet that recommends that you cut out whole food groups is flawed in some respect (and for most, can't be maintained long term).

    While you're more than welcome to talk about whatever point of view you have regarding meat consumption, don't be surprised when you run into resistance, especially on an unrelated thread that has to do with a review of a burger restaurant.

  11. columbusfoodie Says:

    Regarding your claims of the findings on the China Study, many of your concerns have been debunked here:
    http://www.beyondveg.com/billings-t/comp-anat/com

    I think in my prior blog posts on vegetarianism/veganism, I mentioned that while I respect it as a lifestyle choice for other people, it's not one that I choose to embrace myself, nor one that would be healthy for me given my unique circumstances (PCOS, higher protein needs due to a malabsorptive surgery). What rubs me the wrong way, however, is when people who adhere to that type of lifestyle make judgments on those who don't.

    Even if the data in the study were correct (which it isn't – see link above), what people choose to eat is their own business. I firmly believe that moderation is the key. Meat (especially lean meat), as part of a balanced diet, IS healthy. Any diet that recommends that you cut out whole food groups is flawed in some respect (and for most, can't be maintained long term).

    While you're more than welcome to talk about whatever point of view you have regarding meat consumption, don't be surprised when you run into resistance, especially on an unrelated thread that has to do with a review of a burger restaurant.

  12. Paul Says:

    Crap place, greasy burger. Sorry, but we *did* try them. They stank. Next time I want a good burger, I'll go to Johnny's Tavern ("Home of the Super Burger") on Trabue Road, who actually know how to produce an EXCELLENT burger, and will cook it to order.

    Five Guys is *waaaaay* overrated. It feels like (rightly so) a food-court eatery, and the quality of its burgers is on par with your average mall food court. Bleh.

    At least their fries were good.

    -P

  13. Luey Says:

    I'm sad to hear you didn't like 5 guys – I loved the location I used to frequent in Western PA. That picture did look awful, though. Squished, messy, too greasy. But even though I like 5 guys, I agree with several of the commentators above who said that a burger cooked at home is better. Of COURSE it is! It's just fun to go out sometimes too.

  14. Luey Says:

    I'm sad to hear you didn't like 5 guys – I loved the location I used to frequent in Western PA. That picture did look awful, though. Squished, messy, too greasy. But even though I like 5 guys, I agree with several of the commentators above who said that a burger cooked at home is better. Of COURSE it is! It's just fun to go out sometimes too.

  15. Jennifer Says:

    For all you Five Guys lovers, there's a new Five Guys opening up in Columbus on Thursday, May 14 at 1403 N. High Street, South Campus Gateway near the Ohio State University campus. Go check it out!

  16. MaureenMcCabe Says:

    and another new Five Guys opened in Grove City, yesterday??? not my neck of the woods but someone from the franchisee's PR company spammed me via email yesterday asking me to go eat lunch or dinner there and blog about my experience. I have never eaten at the Polaris location why would I drive down to Grove City, on commands from some woman in Florida who doesn't have a clue about Columbus Ohio? Her email seemed about as greasy as that top photo. I am NOT a food blogger… I have no taste, I eat chain food all the time (I live near Polaris) but I wondered if she found a Columbus blogger to be a shill for their new location.

  17. columbusfoodie Says:

    Actually, we gave the one in Grove City a try, and it was a slight improvement to the one at Polaris. Much better service, at least. My opinion? Still not crazy about the burgers (although it's much less greasy without the grilled onions, it still reminds me of a fancy fast food burger), but the fries are great. Not enough draw to get me to go to one regularly.

  18. joshua Says:

    Yeh, not my cup of tea either.

  19. candace Says:

    hi there!
    When I first moved to Va from Idaho, I couldn't understand what my husband was raving about when he said we had to go to "Five Guys" over and over. He said it was like In-n-Out but on the East Coast…so I went a few times and didn't really care too much. But then, I went a third time at a different location: it made ALL the difference.
    I think what you must have run in to is an issue with poor training; the company has only in the last decade begun to franchise–and it has at an enormous rate. I think the consistency with the product is probably a problem for them.And it is easy to see how that could happen since the food isn't prepared in a warehouse and then shipped out to be nuked for the customer like at McDs or other fast food joints. at Five Guys It is never frozen and it is prepared on-site at about the same time as order.
    Here's the thing, I now LOVE Five Guys. LOVE. But Not the location I first had it at–that one never got it right. The one in Old Town, Alexandria, does it PERFECT every time…which makes sense to me, since the company has been in Alexandria for a long, long time.
    So give it some time and then go back. And remember, this isn't a slow-down kind of burger place with a waitress who takes your order and brings you a check after your meal;I'm sure there are places like that with better burgers. But FiveGuys is a fast food joint, so compare it with other fast food burger joints like Burger King, Wendy's, McD's, Sonic, In-n-Out…When compared with those places, not only is the food better (WAY better) it is much healthier.

  20. Drew Says:

    It KILLS me when people tout "Free toppings" on a burger. It is a BURGER not a PIZZA.

    Most places make a signature burger with their particular variety of toppings (BK Ehopper, Wendys Classic Single, McD's Big Mac) and you tell them what to leave OFF if you want it different.

    To start with the bare canvas of a burger patty, require everything atop it be specified, and call them "free" is a GIMMICK!

    I have never had a price reduction in a Whopper because it was served without mayo. Does this mean the toppings are free, or that I was charged for everything and did not get the refund I deserved?

    Don't fall for it. "Free" toppings BELONG on a burger. This, mark my words, may prove to be a set up for the introduction of a nominal fee for burger toppings.

    The collective take will be a windfall, so long as they convince enough customers they were getting something for nothing all that time beforehand. Something that, I guess everyone who frequents EVERY other fast food burger stand takes for grantid every day.

  21. Paul Says:

    Drew,

    Times are tough. They have to increase their revenue streams somehow, y'know?

    They should start charging 50 cents per solid topping, and 25 cents per liquid condiment. Maybe they could charge 25 cents per Solo cup of catsup for the fries as well? It'd revolutionize the fast-food industry!

    Hey, it's just a suggestion…

  22. Paul Says:

    (I love talking to myself, don't you?)

    Note to anyone who cares —

    Every time I've driven past Johnny's Tavern on Trabue Road, their parking lot has been empty and the business has been closed. The signs are still up, but I'm fairly certain that they have felt the Grim Reaper's icy touch, and are no more.

    If they have gone out of business, that's a damned shame. They were a true dive bar with the best burgers in town.

    Anyone able to verify their closure (or not)?

  23. Paul Says:

    Correction to previous post. Every time I've driven past Johnny's Tavern FOR THE LAST MONTH OR SO…

    They're usually open at 11am six days a week, so it's really peculiar to drive past them at 5pm or 6pm as well as noonish and see no cars in the parking lot. It *appears* that they're now closed.

  24. TFJ Says:

    Free Toppings at Five Guys obviously means no EXTRA charge to add toppings to a little hamburger, little cheeseburger, little bacon burger, little bacon cheeseburger, hamburger, cheeseburger, bacon burger, bacon cheeseburger. They are not interested in what the customer DOESN'T want, but what the customer WANTS. "Can I have a Whopper with NO tomato, NO lettuce, NO pickle" "Can I have a Big Mac, I DON'T want lettuce, I DON't want the "secret sauce". Plus Five Guys food is Fresh and actually takes time to prep, unlike Wendys, BK, McDonalds where they just open a bag of precut crap.

  25. TFJ Says:

    p.s. and I believe their classic burger is ALL THE WAY, Cheeseburger all the way: Mayo lettuce, pickle, tomato, ketchup, mustard, mushrooms, fried onion. What BK or other "fast food" burger has a choice of 15 toppings?

  26. Joel Says:

    I really like 5 guys, when I need a fast greasy burger I go there, sure beats a wendys or other fast food burger.

  27. Joe K Says:

    I just got done eating at 5 Guys and I wish I hadn't. The place is extremely over-rated. The grease is unbearable. For the $$ they charge you are much better off going to a sit down restaurant or Tavern and getting a tasty burger that you can enjoy.

    The decor is very sterile and all they do is tout all the readers polls from the different cities that have voted them as having the best burger.

  28. Joe K Says:

    I just got done eating at 5 Guys and I wish I hadn't. The place is extremely over-rated. The grease is unbearable. For the $$ they charge you are much better off going to a sit down restaurant or Tavern and getting a tasty burger that you can enjoy.

    The decor is very sterile and all they do is tout all the readers polls from the different cities that have voted them as having the best burger.

  29. Mickey Says:

    If you want a fantastic burger, which can be made to order, go to the Thurman Cafe!

  30. Brian Says:

    Just to let you know. Johnny's is still open. Had a Superburger yesterday!

  31. Paul Says:

    Yeah, I've since seen them open. Maybe they were closed for a couple of weeks b/c the owner was on vacation? Who knows.

    Looove their Super Burgers, y'know.

  32. Diane Says:

    i went to the Easton location, and the burger was fantastic! The guy behind the counter was very friendly and courteous. One complaint…the fries were undercooked. I will go back again for sure!

  33. takeasiesta Says:

    Graffiti Burger is way better and it's a local chain. I just ate there today. The hand dipped milkshakes are amazing! Check it out: http://www.graffitiburger.com

  34. Eatery Says:

    I would also suggest Thurman or Graffiti.
    Five Guys is a fly by nighter, expand, grab market share and sell; moving on to next new idea.
    They are not healthy, I also like those amazing pictures. That cheese one is what my burger from 5 guys looked like.
    I would suggest hitting the grocery store before hitting 5 guys, its over priced, and over rated

  35. jon Says:

    yeah the one in Columbus is a franchise which plans to expand and move to next market, they are growing fast and in order to grow fast you need a lot of people to invest several times per week. The dividends a customer recieves is heart problems, and thats about all they recieve.

  36. bill Says:

    yes, I went with girlfriend and spent $18 on a two burgers, a fry, and a soda.
    crazy….
    $18 is enough to feed 5-10 people hamburgers if you go to grocery store, and hey fries for everyone. Bag of potatoes is cheap

  37. MIKE Says:

    Yeah they suck.
    Its a heart attack waiting to happen.
    they think its as simple as burger and fries, quick concept in a down economy, but they are overpriced and saturating the market.
    I suggest supporting your local business.

  38. Tory Says:

    GO BACK HOME…

    We dont need anymore locals losing their jobs or businesses.

  39. Hank Says:

    ….go away. This website is reviewing a BURGER. What do you expect? Go troll somewhere else, k?

  40. Marie Says:

    We went to Five Guys in Naples, FL , Crocker Park near Cleveland and another Columbus site(nearer Dublin). We loved them (and I am NOT a big meat or fast food fan)! Unless you are a guy with a huge appetite, suggest getting only a single patty hamburger. The regular fries serve 8, not 2. My only suggestion is to provide Dijon or a brown mustard for the burgers. I've never gotten a burger at Five Guys that looked like your pic. For those who say 5 Guys are not healthy, neither is the water we drink (chemicals and added fluoride), the fillings in our teeth, the air we breathe,or the sprays on the vegetables and fruits we eat, etc, etc,etc.

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