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PARTY OF FIVE
Never-frozen ground beef yields a near-perfect burger experience

How many guys does it take to flip the perfect burger? The answer’s five, in case you haven’t already guessed, and Orlando-area beefeaters are just beginning to learn what their D.C.-area counterparts have known for a long time: Five Guys makes the best burgers around, greasy hands down. And the profusion of accolades and superlatives ensconced on the walls underscore the sentiment — “Willy Wonkas of burgercraft!” raves the Washington Post; “Five Guys is in a class by itself!” shrieks the Old Town Crier.

Sure, the sterile interior of red-and-white-checkered tile may fall about 10 urinals short of the men’s room at Union Station, but if you can manage to get your peanut shell–wedged flip-flops past the 50-pound bags of potatoes and to the counter, you’ll find a quintet of red-capped burger-flipping artistes grilling patties to perfection. (Be sure to grab a Styrofoam cup and dig into the giant sack of salted peanuts before picking up your grease-speckled paper bag of food.)

“Five Guys” is a reference to founder Jerry Murrell’s five sons, all of whom play a part in the family business, and what a simple business it is: burgers. The never-frozen, 100-percent-fresh, lean ground-beef patties come in four burger varieties — regular, cheese, bacon and bacon-cheese — and come standard with two juicy, well-done patties, though you can downsize to the “little” version with just one which, frankly, is filling enough. Best of all, you can crown those beef-filled, sesame-seed buns with 15 available toppings, such as fried onions, sautéed mushrooms and A-1 sauce, at no extra charge. But if you tend to get topping-happy, you’ll have a goopy mess on your hands after your burger disintegrates.

I ordered my “little” cheeseburger ($3.29) with fried onions, lettuce, tomatoes, jalapenos and hot sauce, and it held its form nicely. A look under the bun revealed that they forgot the hot sauce, but the miscue failed to spoil my utter enjoyment of this near-perfect, three-quarter-pound burger. It’s the kind of sandwich that gets you salivating at the very thought of it. In fact, a couple of nights later, as I sat to write the very words you’re reading, a craving for a Five Guys burger overcame me and I just had to have it. You WILL crave a Five Guys burger days, weeks or even months later, and when that hunger hits, you’ll drive like a maniac to get to one of their locations (besides the Dr. Phillips store, there’s one in Altamonte Springs and another on the corner of Sand Lake Road and John Young Parkway) before the posted closing time of 10 p.m.

The skin-on hand-cut fries ($1.99 regular; $3.79 large), soaked in cold water, blanched in cholesterol-free peanut oil, then crisped when ordered, cry for a splash of vinegar, though you can also get ’em Cajun-style. Word of advice: Unless you’re a family of four, the regular order of fries is plenty. A whiteboard advertises the origin of “Today’s Potatoes,” and the half-dozen or so times I’ve eaten there, it’s always read “Rigby, Idaho.” Fries are cut French-style, and a pinchful with every burger bite is the best way to enjoy your meal.

Damn, I think I’m getting another craving.

dining@orlandoweekly.com
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