I guess I should blame the LA Times for helping me finally take the plunge on trying Five Guys. After I read this article about them finally expanding more in SoCal, I decided to finally visit the closest one to me and see if it compared to In-N-Out.
I drove to the Carson Mall, which I haven't been to in years, and walked in to some good music setting the mood for sit down eating. After ordering a cheeseburger, Cajun fries and a drank, I didn't get any peanuts on the side but it looked pretty awesome. Let's compare it to a regular Double-Double combo at In-N-Out.
Burger: It looked like the Big Kahuna burger in Pulp Fiction but it tasted pretty good (had mushrooms, onion and BBQ sauce I couldn't really taste). In-N-Out's burger looks a bit more clean as the buns aren't as mushy and I'm biased to the taste of a simple burger or Animal Style. Five Guys has plenty of more toppings and they're all free so you get more variety.
Fries: I got Cajun fries and what did I taste? Decent potato cut fries that didn't have a hint of Cajun spice on them. They just tasted like normal fries that were good but below expectations. 5 Guys compensates by giving you quite a bit of them but I wasn't as impressed as I thought. In-N-Out gets the edge because Animal Style Fries will keep you satisfied but I'd say the regular fries are a push. No hate, just natural goodness.
Cost: Here's the killer. I spent close to $11 for my 5 Guys meal. For the same thing at In-N-Out, you could spend $4 to $5 less. The Times article stressed the average income of folks who go to both restaurants and folks who make more hit up Five Guys. Now I know why. And for that price, I'd say Five Guys almost rivals The Counter and that's a whole different argument.
So my Virgo Verdict? For my fellow SoCal folks, I'd say definitely try it just to compare with our favorite In-N-Out or the Counter. It's better than most fast-food spots and it's more than about time for it to come to Southern Cali. But personally, I'd say In-N-Out's better for your wallet and slightly better for your mouth. Plus the drive thru option and later hours are an underrated bonus.
Let's give 5 Guys a B+ and welcome them to the area. But in a cash-strapped state like California with folks going cheaper for food., you might wanna take that $10 and spend it there every so often just like The Counter.