I heard about Five Guys Burgers and Fries opening a location in Tallahassee and I decided I had to check it out. For Tallahasseeans: It is in the plaza with The Red Elephant, across from Miracle Five.
I didn't know anything about this establishment other than the name. I had gotten a recommendation from my brother, who lives in Nashville. I walked in and saw a huge open floor with many wooden tables. Large open boxes of salted peanuts (still in the shells) where placed around the dining area for anyone to come grab a handful. (Surprisingly, there was only one table with enough gumption to chuck their peanut shells on the ground. Everyone else there was pretty clean about it.)
It's a very simple layout. Before you get to the ordering counter, you can see bags of potatoes, boxes of frying oil --- the essentials needed to keep their business running. The front counter is a long, flat affair that runs the width of the restaurant. Behind the counter were a dozen workers in red shirts and hats putting together food at various stations: flat stovetops (similar to those at Steak N Shake); work tables with rows of buns and condiments; fry station. The menu is simple: burger, cheeseburger, bacon burger, bacon cheeseburger. "Little" versions of all those. Fries. I wasn't going for a gorge fest, so I ordered a "Little Bacon Cheeseburger." When she asked if I wanted fries I had to think about it --- I wasn't very hungry, but I wanted the full experience. Well, it turns out that the full experience of fries is about three potatoes worth (no joke).
There were a lot of orders placed, but they worked pretty quickly and got my order out (correctly) after about 10 minutes (which I spent munching on peanuts and reading Ellison's Invisible Man for a class I'm in). Over the 40 minutes I sat there, the restaurant went from about 15% capacity to about 85%. The place is open 7 days a week from 11 am to 10 pm, which is both surprising and very cool.
My burger arrived wrapped in a small sheet of foil, a dense little cube. I had ordered lettuce, onion, tomato and mayo, ketchup, mustard, but they have a ton of toppings that are all free. The "little" burger had maybe a 5-inch diameter. The crunchy bacon was at the very bottom, then burger, cheese, toppings. The bread was a soft white bun (I don't remember if it had sesame seeds, but I don't think it did). It was a very pleasant burger. It reminded me a little bit of a steakburger. The toppings were fresh. Everything was juicy and crispy and crunchy and delicious. The fries were too much. They were very good, but I had about 2 potatoes worth of them left, and I began to wonder if it would be kosher to offer them to other diners. I thought that if some inconspicuous looking guy like me came up to me with a bag of fries, I would probably take them. But then I remembered the whole "swine flu" scare and just decided to trash them. (I didn't think they would last very well.)
So Five Guys is a neat throwback burger joint sort of experience. If you like burgers and fries, you will definitely like this place. (Prices were good, not great. Little over $9 for my little burger, a ton of fries, and a drink.) The only thing I regretted was the amount of waste I produced (in uneaten fries and peanuts I took, but also in all the packaging they used). Here was the aftermath:
No, it was not raining in the restaurant. Those are good-old-fashioned grease stains on the paper bag.