« El Corral | Main | Fromagination »

Five Guys Burgers and Fries

In a word: It's about to get sloppy.

The specs: #0350
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; announcement at WiSJ; reviews of State St. Madison location by ABMann on Flickr and alter ego angrybunnyman, at Isthmus, the Culinary Adventures of Jahboh and Tossy, Yelp, Madison Hot Bite, Ruppert Food Blog, Cap Times, QSC; official WI franchiser and Five Guys web site, Five Guys Famous Burgers on Urbanspoon

Latest Five Guys Burgers and Fries news and reviews

We all ate burgers and great gobs of fries (plus one hot dog and one grilled cheese sandwich).
The bill was ??? - thanks, everyone.
James gave Five Guys Burgers and Fries an A;
Bridget and JM gave Five Guys Burgers and Fries an A-;
John Sams, Nichole, and Colleen gave Five Guys Burgers and Fries a B+;
Molly, Carla, Steve, Beth P. and Zach gave Five Guys Burgers and Fries a B;
Sush and Tom gave Five Guys Burgers and Fries a B-;
Marsha gave Five Guys Burgers and Fries a C (see our grading rubric).

That's a burger

JM only changes his age once a year and we frequently use it as an excuse to invite as many guests as possible.  We wish we could bring so many guest reviewers as often as this. Five Guys gave us a bitter irony of food blogging: bring the biggest crowd to the smallest menu. As any math-minded reader will note, the grades we gave Five Guys describe a near-perfect bell.

Five Guys...

We didn't count, and we don't know the provenance of the name, but maybe there were five guys running this show. John Sams (bacon cheeseburger with fried onions and mushrooms) and Molly (little burger and fries) spoke for the group when they commended the very nice and personable staff, who were amazingly efficient considering a sudden onslaught of 14 people.


Grilled cheese and mushroomsLet's start with the non-burger sandwiches, since Five Guys burgers get enough internet time thanks to their cultish following. First, the hot dog. Sush said it was 'k, but maybe a little overcooked. It was cut in half lengthwise, the better to cover the bun with. She sensed the burger people were more satisfied.

How could Nichole ever have worried that one grilled cheese would leave her hungry? Hefting the bag with the super-heavy sandwich, her fears were allayed. Though the order-taking guy said the grilled cheese came with two pieces of Kraft American cheese (hey, in Madison, that's technically local... right?), close observation revealed that it was made with an inside-out burger bun, three pieces of cheese and two scoops of mushrooms, all smooshed down on the grill. Loaded with grill grease, there's no way you could be hungry after finishing one of these. While not a guilty pleasure she'd personally return to often, she can see the appeal of a goopy, melty lunch like this.

The phrase "good but not great" was used - without commiseration - by two different eaters; Marsha (little bacon cheeseburger grilled onion) put it like this: "OK but nothing to brag about much." She found the burger to be a little on the skinny and dry side. JM (bacon cheeseburger BBQ and onion) found the meat to be roughly cafeteria grade.

James (a self-described burger fan: little cheeseburger with onion, lettuce, pickle, tomato, ketchup, mustard) found his burger to be just the right size for lunch, though it suffered from a bit too much lettuce. Carla (little cheeseburger) thought hers tasted better than a fast food burger, more like home on the grill. Colleen (little hamburger, mushrooms), Beth P. (little hamburger, mushrooms) and Nichole were disappointed in the use of canned mushrooms.

Everything burgerColleen also said that next time she'd take advantage of more fixin's, maybe after seeing how much Bridget (little hamburger, mayo, relish, onion, lettuce, pickle, tomato, mushrooms, ketchup, mustard, jalapenos) enjoyed her loaded burger. Yet Bridget and Sush were able to think of one more topping Five Guys lacks: pineapple. There's just no pleasing some people.

...and Fries.

Today's potatosThe fries were the star of the show. After his first bite, JM said these fries are possibly the most "potato" of any fry he's ever had. Potatoes that rise like Olympus through the fog of the fry medium.

Fry overflowPlus, a small order will probably be fine. Trust us on this one.

The styrofoam cups that the fries are served in overflow out of are ingenious for keeping the readily-available malt vinegar in check. Steve (bacon cheeseburger) and Beth P. both noted that the fries were best when hot and waned quickly, which of course is only a problem because you get twice the amount you think you'll get.

Greasy bagZach (little bacon cheeseburger) thought the standard fries could use more seasoning; Sush, having tried the Cajun version, thought those were just OK. They came tossed with a standard McCormick's-type seasoning mix, and got better the closer she got to the bottom of the cup.

Five GuysJohn Sams called the inside of Five Guys "charming" and liked its quaint appeal and nice, simple setup. Tom, on the other hand, thought Five Guys works too hard to look retro, like the old George Webb decor package. More than one (but by no means all) of our companions thought their meals were a little expensive for a burger and fries.

Marsha noticed that the dining area was fairly noisy, though that could have been our large group's fault. Finally, James wasn't alone in appreciating the free, unsalted peanuts in the shells that were available from big boxes in the dining area and on your way out the door, just in case you didn't get enough fries and burgers.

JM, who enjoyed another birthday lunch with his friends, felt that the fare was as he expected: a standard, if mass produced, gob of food that tastes good and left most everybody full and happy for the afternoon to come.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Popping over from Accidental Hedonsit...

There's one of these in Carson, CA. I'm almost curious to make the drive, based on your pics and on Yelp! reviews.

Wasn't expecting much, but I thought this was an absolutely terrific greasy burger. Very much 50's style drive-up, with simple toppings, fresh meat, and huge fun mess left after I was done. The fries were terrible. Greasy (in a bad way), soft, and too salty. Agreed that it's quite a bit overpriced here, but this place is about twice as good as the Fuddruckers was, and probably is the best non-charbroiled burger in the neighborhood now. Dotty's is still way better, of course.

Very disappointing. My husband and I and our two young children ate here today. The food is way overpriced. For the four of us to each get a burger (littles for the kids), four drinks, and one large order of fries to share we paid over $30. For that cost we could have had a sit-down meal elsewhere that wasn't so cafeteria-esque. THUMBS DOWN, WAY DOWN.
PS: The food was OK, but not great, and simply not worth the cost.

Regarding Olivia's post though, if you didn't get drinks and got water instead, you'd be saving upwards of 10 dollars... I love their burgers though, and their fries make for great leftovers if you order too many, so don't just throw the greasy bag away.

Timmy, $30 for 4 people is a good price...It's usually $30 for 2 people at any other restaurant so I don't know how its overpriced...So Timmy, I think you can read the price of food before you sit and order it so don;t complain if your poor.

Actually, Joe, you're wrong. $30 for 4 burger, drinks and ONE order of fries is quite high. In addition, there's an element missing in the value equation here- these are burgers and fries, which, by their very nature, are required to be both delicious and cheap. Five Guys is neither. And- you spelled 'you're' wrong. Just sayin'.

Five guys treats their employees like dirt. Make a mistake and you are fired. One, just one and you are canned. They are making a fortune, pay employees dirt wages, no one is full time so they don't have to pay benefits. SHAME on them. I will never eat there again....First company that I have thought should really unionize.

How many mistakes would an employee get to make at a typical Madison restaurant before facing discipline? The service around here is absolutely horrid, from delivery to white tablecloth, especially downtown. I think more places should adopt the 5 Guys employment model.

Obama's favorite burger is 5 Guys.

Some restaurants are less particular about tablescloth? OH NOES!!

I prefer mcdonalds.

Here is how Five Guys got it's name: There were 5 high school seniors in Northern Virginia that all attended the same school, and who were not going off to college. They decided to open a burger joint together. It was a winner so they opened-up four more locations....one for each guy. Washingtonian Magazine rated them the best burger place many years in a row. Their burgers were surpising; order a bacon cheeseburger and it came with 2 patties. They always listed where their potatoes came from, usually a variety of places in New England. Someone bought them out ($?) and went national.

I hate seeing the bags of Idaho potatoes in their Madison joint.

I was quite underwhelmed by the size of the single burger.. it was very thin and not even as big as the bun. I tasted the toppings but not the burger...but I must say the toppings were fresh and great tasting. Just a little upset by the burger size... the burgers look nothing at all like your pics of them even on this websit...thanks for listening.

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this weblog until the author has approved them.

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In.


Listen to The Corner Table podcast "Remembering Restaurants," aired December 24, 2020, where Chris and Lindsay talk with us "about the menus and memories left behind when restaurants go away."

Madison Food coverInfo about our book Madison Food: A History of Capital Cuisine is here, or read it for free thanks to the library - print & ebook.



About Follow madisonatoz on Twitter Contact
Blogroll Ad 
Free Blog
Read our book and food tour
Dish du jour Creative Commons License subscribe to RSS Subscribe
Memo to restaurants Bloggers' Rights at EFF Quizzes
Reflections BlogWithIntegrity.com Tip jar
Banner image by Kayla Morelli, Red Wheelbarrow Design