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|August 27 - September 2, 2009
• Back to food
Tips for packing school lunchboxes
by Monica Eng
• The Dessert Diva
A local chef shares her sweet secrets
by Danette Randall
Five Guys provides burgers fit for a prez
by Clay Fong
Most of us are precluded from possessing such Presidential trappings as Air Force One, a bulletproof limousine, or a desk constructed from the timbers of a salvaged British ship. An unwillingness to spend a couple of years on the campaign trail, and a lack of funds to do so, has put most of these perks out of my reach. Happily, there is one executive privilege that is both affordable and readily available, and that’s the $4.99 cheeseburger from Longmont‘s Five Guys Burgers and Fries.
Originally from Virginia, Five Guys is a fast-food chain that has recently opened a handful of stores in Colorado. Five Guys made national news when President Obama visited one of their D.C.-area outlets and ordered a $4.99 cheeseburger garnished with mustard, lettuce, tomato and jalapeño peppers. While this presidential connection is intriguing, I was more interested in confirming the scuttlebutt that this joint was comparable to my personal fast-food favorite, Southern California’s legendary In-N-Out.
Upon entering the bright red and white interior of Five Guys with consigliere Keith, similarities between this chain and In-N-Out became apparent. Each features meat that’s never been frozen and a stripped-down menu of burgers and fries. Five Guys also has hot dogs, as well as grilled cheese and veggie sandwiches. Unfortunately, they don’t serve milk shakes.
The gentleman taking our order was about as professional and polite as I’ve ever seen, and we were pleased to see that additional toppings such as grilled onions, green peppers and barbecue sauce were free. In-the-shell roasted peanuts are another freebie, and customers are encouraged to nibble on these legumes while waiting for their meals.
Keith waxed enthusiastic about the ambience, proclaiming, “This is just about perfect. It’s got a good retro look, and we’re listening to Talking Heads. What more could you want?”
Keith’s enthusiasm didn’t wane when our food arrived. He had ordered an Atkins Diet-friendly $5.69 bunless bacon cheeseburger.
However, his selection was so generously appointed with grilled onions, mushrooms and A-1 sauce that we had to remove the wrappers to distinguish his order from my full-fledged $4.99 cheeseburger à la Obama.
Each of our burgers came loaded down with two beef patties; those desiring a single serving of meat can opt for the “little” burgers, which cost a buck less. The meat was as hot, tender and juicy as you’ll find at any mass-market outlet, although the texture wasn’t as consistent or as firm as In-N-Out’s. Unquestionably, however, it was the best fast-food burger I’ve had in Colorado, enhanced by the lettuce and tomato’s freshness and the contrast of cheese and pepper.
Simply put, you won’t find a better French fry at any chain restaurant. A reasonably priced $2.59 regular order of fresh cut spuds is more than enough for two to share. The perfectly crisp exterior and full-throated potato flavor enhanced by bits of skin would be a good deal at twice the price. As Keith put it, “You don’t want to put ketchup on these — it takes away from the taste.” Want something spicy? There’s also a Cajun version that’s pleasingly peppery without coming on too strong. The fries alone are worth a visit, and while it’s not quite In-N-Out, Five Guys still provides one of the most satisfying burgers you’ll find for the money.
Clay’s obscurity corner
While presidents generally try to portray themselves as reasonably healthy eaters, most recent occupants of the Oval Office seem to have at least one culinary vice. President Obama’s appears to be cheeseburgers. This sandwich was his requested meal, along with a salad and fries, on his first Air Force transport flight as President-elect. In addition to his foray to Five Guys with an NBC News crew, he also made a stop at the independently owned Ray’s Hell Burger in Arlington, Va., with now VP Biden. There’s some debate over what the Commander-in-Chief had at Ray’s, although most agree he requested spicy mustard.
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