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Posted on Thu, Mar 3, 2011 : 5:30 a.m.

Five Guys Burgers & Fries offers what it advertises

By Julie Halpert


The interior of Five Guys

Angela J. Cesere |

Ever since it opened in January, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, the latest in a series of hamburger joints to hit the area, has had lines snaking near the door at all hours. The buzz associated with this growing burger empire clearly preceded its arrival. The chain, which started with one store in Arlington, Va. in 1986, has grown to more than 750 locations in over 40 states.

It stands in stark contrast to its predecessor in the space, Shaman Drum Bookshop, and was entirely remodeled. A basic red and white checkerboard motif surrounds the store, along with articles testifying to the restaurant's critical and popular appeal hanging on the wall. There's a regimented system: you order from one line, and then pick it up at an adjoining line when your number is called.

Five Guys has a limited menu, delivering essentially just what it advertises: burgers and fries, along with hot dogs. There's not even a garden burger on the menu. If you're vegetarian, you can order vegetables on a bun or a grilled cheese sandwich.

There are a dozen toppings to choose from, and they're all free, everything from grilled mushrooms to jalapeno peppers. You can order either a "little" size or regular. I opted for the smaller one, and it was ample enough to satisfy. It didn't look much smaller than the regular burger.


Five Guys Burgers & Fries
311 S. State St.

  • Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m.
  • Plastic: Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover.
  • Liquor: No.
  • Prices: Inexpensive.
  • Value: Very good.
  • Noise level: Loud. It's nearly always crowded and the space is small.
  • Wheelchair access: Yes.

Just one bite into my cheeseburger made me realize why this place is so popular. The hamburgers — all cooked just one way, on the medium/medium well side — were perfectly seasoned, juicy, tender and delicious. I added cheese, lettuce, tomato, grilled mushrooms, ketchup and mustard to mine. My one complaint was that it was so doused in mustard and ketchup that it saturated the lettuce as well as the fresh bun.

My son, who just opted for light ketchup, cheese and bacon, had a better sandwich, with big chunks of crispy bacon. On our second visit, the burger was sitting while the rest of our order was prepared, so it was cold. And my brother, who prefers his burgers on the pink side, wasn't enamored with the way his was cooked.

You can order your fries regular or Cajun style. I thought the regular fries could use more seasoning and were on the limp side. Seasoning wasn't a problem with the Cajun version, though it seemed like the spices were an afterthought, sprinkled on instead of added during the cooking process. My hot dog, split in two and grilled, was fantastic.


A bacon cheeseburger "All The Way" (includes all toppings: mayo, lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, ketchup, mustard.

Angela J. Cesere |

On our second visit, seeking to avoid the 550-calorie count of the small cheeseburger, I decided to sample the veggie sandwich with cheese and it provided a hearty alternative. The vegetables were fresh and perfectly grilled, surrounded by a fresh bun.

Prices here are reasonable. Our first order — two burgers, drinks and a huge serving of French fries — was only $15.

Service here was actually better when the place was more crowded. On a Sunday afternoon, it was a well oiled machine, with staff turning out orders, assembly-line style, within minutes. It was somewhat slower when we returned, but not substantially. In fact, dare I say, it's as quick as McDonald's. But with burgers far exceeding any fast-food restaurant in quality and taste, Five Guys is clearly filling another niche.



Sun, Mar 13, 2011 : 2:57 a.m.

the reviewer said vegetarians can have grilled cheese.Is cheese really a vegetable?


Sat, Mar 5, 2011 : 2:39 p.m.

Meh, I wasn't impressed. Another chain hamburger. Fries sucked, unless you like grease-soaked limp potatoes.


Fri, Mar 4, 2011 : 11:25 p.m.

a. it is a sad time when something that was once a newspaper "reviews" chain hamburger joints.... b. I tried it--I will try anything once--and was hardly impressed. What is the point of overcooking barely acceptable hamburgers? This is hardly something difficult to cook and all the hype seems just that: PR hype. Once the weather improves, we will all be cooking much better ones and eating them in nicer surroundings. Look around, because there are at least three local places within walking distance that serve hamburgers that are so many times better, and can be ordered done in any way: Red Hawk, Blue Tractor, and Casey's, albeit a bit down the road. I am sure I am missing some. They may be more expensive, but at least you get something worth taking in all those calories for, ad can order a drink to boot. How many more hamburger and pizza joints does this town need? Surely someone has the imagination to open something new and different ...

Rob MI

Thu, Mar 3, 2011 : 10:33 p.m.

Familiar with the Five Guys restaurant in Southfield on 9 Mile and Greenfield, I must say that the Ann Arbor location does not, at this point and based on my single visit to date, rate as highly as that one in a number of areas: 1) The burger I received in Ann Arbor was smashed in the wrapper. I will note that this was a frequent complaint of mine about the Southfield location as well, but after mentioning it in their online survey several times, I've noticed that it doesn't happen nearly as frequently as it used to. The picture by Ms. Cesere is clearly a pre-wrapped photo. I'll guarantee nobody will ever open their burger and have it look like this photo. 2) The limp fries mentioned by both the reviewer and a previous commenter--something I've never experienced in Southfield, even when they've been very busy. 3) Staff friendliness and helpfulness. The Ann Arbor store bears the typical hallmarks of what we've come to expect from many fast-food employees, regardless of location. Not so at Southfield (or any of the other locations I've been to across the country), where friendliness and helpfulness appear to be part of the overall experience of the place. All of that being said, this location has only been open 6 weeks or so. It will be interesting to see how things improve (or worsen) as time continues on.

Jay Thomas

Thu, Mar 3, 2011 : 9:47 p.m.

I like the way the cook the burgers. I don't like 'em pink... but I may be a minority.


Thu, Mar 3, 2011 : 9:27 p.m.

I went with a group of friends several weeks ago on a Saturday night. The place was packed and we stood in line for about 10 minutes. It was hard to get a table after we'd ordered food but we managed to snag one after another group left. I expected all of this so I wasn't put off by it at all. However, I was disappointed by the food. It was my first time in a Five Guys and I guess my expectations were high. The burger was ok, had a cheeseburger with bacon. Not bad, not great, somewhat unremarkable. The fries were the biggest disappointment. My group split a large order of the cajun fries and they were really undercooked. Soggy, almost translucent. They needed to be cooked a lot longer. I will probably stop in again once the hype has died down but overall I wasn't wowed by it at all.


Thu, Mar 3, 2011 : 5:15 p.m.

The red and white checkerboard on the interior makes it look like you're surrounded by Big Boy's overalls...


Thu, Mar 3, 2011 : 2:54 p.m.

From Shaman Drum to this, what a sad day for Ann Arbor!


Thu, Mar 3, 2011 : 9:46 p.m.

yeah, the days of gouging students for textbooks was awesome. I get it that Shaman was locally owned, but they were part of an industry that has been taking advantage of a monopoly on student texts.


Thu, Mar 3, 2011 : 4:54 p.m.

Why is this sad? Shaman Drum closed and new entrepreneurs took over and are offering something else! Your personal taste notwistanding nor typical Ann Arbor snobbery, this is not a sad day!

Supervenient Man

Thu, Mar 3, 2011 : 2:50 p.m.

I used to go to Five Guys frequently when I lived in DC; glad to see them here. Does the Ann Arbor location have the big box of peanuts by the door like the others?

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Mar 3, 2011 : 1:04 p.m.

* Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m. * Plastic: Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover. * Liquor: No. * Prices: Inexpensive. * Value: Very good. * Noise level: Loud. It's nearly always crowded and the space is small. * Wheelchair access: Yes. Do they have a defibrillator on site?