Battle of the burger chains

When we were in Florida, everyone we asked about eating recommendations told us “Five Guys, go to Five Guys”. When we said we were coming to California, we heard, ”Oh you have to go to In-and-Out, it’s a California institution”.

So we dutifully went to both famous burger chains with high expectations.

I am here to tell you that one chain was the clear winner in the East Coast versus West Coast burger chain battle (as judged by me and Rasmus). And if you’re Californian, you’re not going to like the result…

We went to Five Guys after church one Sunday back in July. The decor was red and white tiles, the menu was basic: you pick your burger type and then add as many toppings from the long list as you like (cheese, salad, jalapenos, mushrooms, onions, bacon…) and they make it to order for you.

They were really good burgers, the size that makes you feel like you ate too much when you’ve finished, but only just too much so that you’re still wonderfully happy and full.

The patties are handmade and think and juicy. The chips (*fries) are thick cut from real potatoes and the fun thing is they have a big sign up on the wall telling you which farm the potatoes come from today. They have an open kitchen so you can watch them making your burger which I always enjoy (hey, sushi bar, fancy restaurant or burger chain – it’s still a kitchen!) All over the walls they have framed newspaper cuttings telling you how great Five Guys is. And we certainly agree by the time we are finished…

Last night after Rasmus got home from work and we’d gone for a swim at the complex pool, I looked at the contents of our fridge and decided we were eating out. There’s an In-and-Out just five minutes from us so we headed there for a late evening burger. The red and white decor was amusingly familiar and the place was comfortingly full despite it being late.

The whole ”secret menu” thing is a fun concept, except if it really is a secret to you. We weren’t sure what options there were so we just ordered regular cheeseburgers with grilled onions and jalapenos for Rasmus. The calorie amounts were posted up on the menu which quickly dissuaded me from ordering the milkshake which had more calories than the double burger did. Whoever came up with that idea is an idiot – if I am at a fast food restaurant, chances are I do not care too much about the calorie count.

We were somewhat disappointed when our burger arrived. The meat patty was much smaller than we expected. The onions and salad were good and plentiful (not the one piece of lettuce and a thin slice of tomato that you get in the bigger burger chains) but the chips tasted like cardboard and I was not left with that happy satisfied feeling. Not even the little “Revelation 3:20” printed on the bottom of the burger wrapper could produce more than a quick chuckle.

So Californians, I am sorry to now contradict every single one of you who have told me how great In-and-Out is, but it kinda sucks. And Five Guys is kinda awesome. So East Coast wins. The End.