Five Guys Burgers & Fries | Santa Rosa

BiteClub winners chow at Five Guys | Crista Jeremiason, PD

Though the night was rainy and cold, five BiteClubbers braved the elements, the hoards and threats of impending indigestion to get the skinny on Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Santa Rosa’s first outpost of this east coast, Obama-favorite.

What we do, we do for you.

At the Five Guys table, a very pregnant Jennifer (to gauge the restaurant’s crave-worthiness); Chef Evan for the culinary worthiness; burger aficionado (and former Fair Food Scrambler) Jason; and Alissa, a woman who once ate burgers for 16 days in a row. Plus BiteClub and BiteClub Jr.

It takes a village to judge a burger, so we put our heads together to come up with a handy guide for all you Five Guys newbies (and oldies)

What’s the Deal with this Place?
The first of a possible five new Five Guys restaurants in Sonoma County, the chain is spreading like wildfire across the nation (200 are slated to open in 2011). Local owner and Ohio native Craig Gallagher and four other investors leapt at the chance to snap up Sonoma County, one of the last counties in America to have franchises available. Petaluma may have the next opening, along with plans for at least one other Santa Rosa location.

Making your burger | Crista Jeremiason, PD

What To Order
The DC-based company prides itself on its fresh-baked buns, single-sourced fries (you can see the farm they came from on the board) made fresh and personalized burgers, offering up 15 different toppings ranging from mayo and lettuce to jalapenos and grilled mushrooms. Burgers aren’t started until you order, and wait time is typically about 7-8 minutes — hence the peanuts to tide you over. Burgers run a$4.99 for a double and $3.69 for a single. Unlike In N Out, Five Guys offers up split, griddle cooked hot dogs starting at $3.59. Fries are thickly cut and generously served, skin-on ($2.59 small, $4.69 large). Cajun-spiced fries are a best bet and pickles absolutely make the burger.

So, are the burgers as great as fans claim them to be?
Big, messy and squishy describe these burgers. The homemade buns are Wonder bread soft but are prone to disintegration. Things get pretty messy the more toppings you add. Go “All the Way” (an order for all the toppings) and you’ll end up with most of it on your lap, napkins and the foil paper wrapper — though you can sop it up with the fries, like we did. Said Jason, “This is definitely a multiple napkin experience!” Overall, the group was thumbs up on the whole Five Guys vibe, loved  the ability to personalize the burgers and proclaimed the fries much better than In-N-Out.

Which speaks to the inevitable comparisons to our favorite Left Coast burger chain.

The Inevitable Comparison
1. No, there’s no secret menu or special sauce
2. Yes, the fries are way better
3. Yes, they have free peanuts and you can throw the shells on the ground
4. Nope, they don’t have milkshakes
5. Yes, their hot dogs totally rock
6. Yes, prices are a bit higher than In N Out. You’ll spend about $10 for a meal here.
7. No, there’s no drive through.
8. Yes, the staff is just as clean-cut and friendly.

The Feast!

BiteClubbers Final Say
Jennifer: “The smell really drew me in.” Her plusses: The grilled, split hot dog with cheese. The minus: “The sauce at In & Out is better.”  Crave worthiness: Moderate. Would she come back? “Yes.”

Evan: “The fries have sort of a cottage fry quality. They’re definitely bigger and better than In N Out’s soggy shoestrings.”  The group unanimously decided, however, to order the fries extra crispy next time. The plusses: The range of condiments is great and I like the ballpark style hot dogs. Culinary worthiness: “I like it, but I’m a soggy burger kind of guy.” Come back? Yes.

Jason: “The buns are just great.” The plusses: Love the fresh jalapenos and pickles. The minus: I like my onions sliced. Burger Brilliance: “The patties don’t have much seasoning. They’re really fresh, but just not seasoned enough.” Come back? Yes.

Alissa: “I would definitely come back for the dog,” which she ordered with cheese, ketchup, mustard, hot sauce and pickles. Return? Yes. Sixteen times? Possible.

Heather: I loved the “All the Way” cheeseburger with crisp bacon and lettuce, grilled onions, mushrooms and chilled mayo and pickles. The burger itself was, frankly, unremarkable, but the soft bun and top-notch toppers (especially the pickle!) made for a memorable eating experience. Minus: I hate well-done burgers, and all their burgers are cooked well-done. Return: BiteClub Jr. insists.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries: 2280 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa, Open daily at 11am.

Thanks to all my BiteClub eaters, everyone who entered, PD Photog Crista Jeremiason for the amazing pictures (though I will note that the cool fish eye lens seems to have added a hump back to me…haha) and Five Guys Burgers and Fries!

Author: biteclub

Food Dining and Restaurants in Sonoma County and beyond, BiteClubEats.com is Wine Country dining with Drive-Thru Sensibility.

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52 Comments

  1. Music was way too loud and distracting, at least a request to lower the volume worked. Still a very noisy location. Burger was nothing special, in fact a bit too dry. Fries have good flavor but the fries at the bottom of the paper cup looked like scrapings from the fryer. Small burger, fries and soft drink -$9.96 and no better than BK at about $4.00 less. One try and they won’t see my money again.

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  2. IMO the fries are OK but not great and burgers no more tasty than In And Out just bigger.

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  3. 5 guys experience—
    greetings at the door – surprised us
    ordering is a bit puzzling with the word ‘little hamburger’ i thought bite size sandwiches but it means one patty, i told the girl it was our first time and she explained in detail.
    loud music, greetings, seats are too closed together- chaotic and frantic atmosphere, not a place to relax…it is probably better to order to go when you are bothered by noice,
    buns- became soggy when you are halfway through, last bite was not great because it became mushy at the end.
    beef- nice premium kind of beef, not seasoned with too much salt which is great
    lettuce- not big whole leaf, they are sliced leaves, i prefer the whole leaf, will not fall off when biting.
    grilled onions- small diced, fairly noticeable.
    tomatoes, not sliced into rings, i think they are diced??
    grilled mushrooms- they are ok.
    overlal ratingl- 6 out of 10
    signs in every corner- so many big signs written in red ink, too much signs for me,
    fries- they are soggy yet nicely seasoned not too greasy nor too salty.
    peanuts- i tried one, too salty.

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  4. Tried 5 guys today. Glad to get that out of the way. Had a headache from the horrible loud music. Tables so close together it was awful. Soggy bun. Burger cold. Hate the bag style of serving. By the time you get the food out, it spills all over the table. PLUS……the bill for the two of us was TWICE as much as In N Out………………Not worth it………..

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  5. As someone who once ate seven (7) bacon cheese burgers in a 36 hour period, I definitely have opinions on burgers.

    First of all, they are way too expensive for what you get. Diner style burgers, as opposed to “fancy” restaurant burgers, should not cost this much.

    I think the fries suck. They aren’t a steak fry, they aren’t a string fry…they are just kind of there and so it surprises me that people rave about their fries. I challange anyone who loves their fries to put them up against TAPS’s fries in Petaluma.

    If this is truly ‘bama’s favorite burger, I have to question if he is a burger guy at all or if it is all just media hype. Maybe it is just the closest place to the White House, or the easiest to park the limos at. I can not imagine that there are a ton of better burgers in his neighrood.

    All in all, they make a tasty burger and if I had to choose between them and the standard fast food, I would pick them. The extra money is worth it for the better burger. But that being said, I would chose In-n-Out as the best “fast food” burger around, but with so many great non-fast food burger places for only a buck or two more, I can’t see visiting Five Guys again at any time in the near future.

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  6. Tried them last Tuesday at lunch (no line) and wasn’t impressed, especially after the worker removed her dirty gloves and threw them over several orders on the counter into the trash (while the Manager held the can for her). Again on Sunday for dinner with the family (again no line) no one was ready to come back anytime soon. It was my last visit. I’ll give them 6 months and they, too, will be gone……

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    • I agree with Ed. After all the hype, had lunch there this past Wednesday. There was a line, but it moved fast. Unimpressed with the burger (patty small and burnt), the bun (not toasted), the cheese (American instead of real cheddar or jack) and the service (lackluster). While the fries are better than In/Out, they’re not worth the trip. My advice: Try Phyllis’ on Hwy. 12.

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    • 5 guys just ok I like in and out better
      >no milk there I like milk in and out has it
      >french fries not crispy they are soggy and way tooo many wasteful and I ordered the smaller amount
      >tables very uncomfortable too close together you feel like you are sitting on top of strangers
      >do not like the loud music or the selection
      >you have to choose what you want on burger too many choices people take forever
      >food takes along time longer that in and out
      > burgers small and more expensive than in and out
      >only plus is that you get free peanuts to eat while you are waiting good for the kids

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  7. I ate here last night – couln’t take the 40 cars in line at In and Out. This burger blows away In and Out. There is a reason they have a drive through – because it’s fast food. The bacon (which you can’t get at In and Out) cheesburger at Five Guys was best burger I’ve had in a restaurant in years.

    Oh and by the way, Five Guys fires and some of the best. In and Out fries may as well be cardboard.

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  8. Went to 5 Guys last night, OMG could it be any louder in there! Everyone working behind the counter is screaming, the loud music, I had a terrible headache by the time we got out of there. The food was just not worth it.

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    • You guys are tough. Zagat rated this the best burger in the country last year. What more can you ask for?

      I am interested in the post about chemicals. The meat is fresh, never frozen. That’s pretty unique in this industry.

      Don’t the lines tell you something – people want to eat there…..

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  9. Come on Elizabeth! Nobody’s raving, it’s not BAD food, it all fresh with friendly service too. Not everyone can afford $15-20 for a burger and fries that might not been as GOOD as these 2 places. How do you KNOW that these places use chemicals and these “other” places do not? These are 2 of the most reputable burger joints in the country, known for the fresh and single sourced veggies.

    It’s not too loud for a conversation either, and I’ve always found a place to sit, it’s sounds like you need to be on another blog.

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  10. I can’t believe you are all talking about fast-food garbage! Don’t you realize you are comparing sources of bad food? If you want a good burger, go to a local restaurant, or diner, that can offer food without chemicals, friendly, personalized service and a place to sit. You are raving about the best of bad, unhealthy food, standing in line for the privilege of buying it and eating it in the car or in a so-called restaurant that is so loud you can’t have a conversation.

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  11. Walked in and looked at the people scrunched in the tables, the place had an odor of something, turned around and left to go to In & Out! Will I try it again, probably not.

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  12. When they turn the loud rock and roll music OFF I might be back. Too much. The meal was good but not twice as good as In n out for for twice the price. Nice staff though.

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  13. Honestly, the burgers aren’t very good. In ‘n Out is much tastier AND a whole lot cheaper. The wait in line was really long, the peanuts stuck to the bottom of my shoes made my steps feel slippery, and I’m sure the crowded tables are a fire hazard. 40 bucks later, to feed three, we left feeling pretty convinced that this place is all hype and not much else.

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    • I’m gonna try it but based off of the pics and some of the reviews, I don’t see how it can hold a CANDLE to In-N-Out…Still, something new to try.

      I’m sure the wait time in line will go down so that’s no problem to me, but so far I think I’ma try the hotdog before a burger lol

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  14. Great pics heather. I do notice that your left shoulder looks like a sofa from Shaq’s house. That’s alright though, I gave you style points for the grip on that dog.

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    • Which is kind of hilarious because I don’t eat hot dogs. Like ever. But those were pretty solid.

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  15. Those pictures of that food does not look appealing at all. I don’t think I would go, especially since there are so many really good burger places already. But, good luck to them.

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  16. Brody’s has the right idea, but they cook their burgers WAY too long, they’re dry and tasteless. It must be that they use “grass fed” beef, that’s code for “cost’s twice as good as it tastes”.

    Thanks for the tip Mark Anthony, I’ve always got my eye out for a burger joint that I haven’t tried yet. It will be the only time I use the word Yanni with excitement in my voice.

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  17. Just got back from lunch. It was more $ than I though it would be, the burger was very good, not great. I would not ever try the cajun fries again though, something just tasted wrong, probably too much seasoning. I really like that you can switch up the toppings with no extra charge and they have BACON.

    If I had to rate it 1-10 it’s about a 7, I’d give In-n-out about an 8. If you get fries and a drink like most people do, it’s twice as much as I-N-O, but definitely not twice as good. They did have quick and freindly service, a plus. I will go back though.

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  18. Its not fair to compare In -n-out and 5 guys. In and out is a fast food joint ( a very good one at that). 5 guys is more of a sit down restaurant burger. they are very different types of burgers and both are very good. It really depends on the mood you are in I guess.

    In-n-outs fries are very polarizing , people either love them or hate them. 5 guys cajun fries are awesome but probably not to healthy but hey , its a burger joint so what do you expect?

    IMO, in-n out and 5 guys are two very welcome businesses in Santa Rosa , especially in this economy

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  19. An update from the pregnant, craving burgers taste-tester… after a few days, I want to go back. Now I’m craving these burgers in particular, the soft bun and the crispy pickle. Yum. I know, moderation in all things, but I’ll be back sooner rather than later.

    Thanks, Heather, for the great experience. Love your write up.

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  20. Why does it look like your all angry with the manager?

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    • That was my “listening intently” face. Sometimes hard to tell from my “angry” face. :)

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  21. I may have to try it, but it will depend on the line. No burger is worth waiting in a long line for, not when I can make one just as good at home for half the price.

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  22. Honestly, I’m only writing to dish on the food truck hoopla that was touched on last week. I didn’t find the opportunity to respond to the article, so here it is:

    The local brick and mortar restaurant owners need to stop complaining and start adapting to a beneficial scene for the consumer. Here’s an idea you whiners, offer up some good deals on Monday when the food trucks are downtown. Bring the people to your restaurants with creative thinking and special deals. Competition is good for all! If there was no competition downtown, you would love to get away with charging $15 for a burger, $30 for a pizza, $8 dollars for a beer, $12 for a burrito and $20 for soup and salad. Keep the honesty, the integrity and most of all the competition.

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  23. Single source potatoes. That’s nice. I would really like to see single source beef which is getting harder and harder to find in stores.
    But, even a loyal In and Outer will give the new boys a try.

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  24. Brodie’s Burgers & Brews blows this franchise away. Much better product at half the cost. Just because 5 guys is a a franchise doesn’t mean it’s the best, just a bunch of sheep folowing the rest of the heard.

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    • Love Brodie’s. Just keep in mind, peeps, that this is a big opening and a lot of people are interested….even though its a chain. I’m all for the locals!

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  25. First big turnoff was seeing how they tried to copy In N Out decor, and color scheme. Not very original, so the food’s probably not very original either. Doesn’t seem to justify the higher prices. Just another copy-cat burger joint. Try The Counter in Corte Madera. That’s original!

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  26. Nice write up & great photo’s, but hopefully now that you have tried all the rest you will try the best! Yanni’s Sausage Grill of Penngrove has been serving the absolute BEST CHEESEBURGER IN SONOMA COUNTY for quite a while now. I used to go to Yanni’s for their incredible homemade (AND MULTIPLE HARVEST FAIR AWARD WINNING!) sausage sandwich’s but ever since trying their yet-to-be-famous Cheeseburger it immediately became a “must have” on all of my visits. The only time I still get to enjoy their Harvest Fair Award Winning sausage sandwich’s is when my girl friend & I split a yet-to-be-famous Cheeseburger AND a sausage sandwich, but most of the time I MUST have a whole one all to myself! If you think I’m kidding you definitely have not been there yet! Oh yeah, they also serve the tastiest Greek Salad (the small makes a perfect appetizer while waiting for my burger), incredible homemade chili (usually made with their hot Italian sausage), fries, soups, and Pizza’s, yep they are now rockin’ a pizza oven too! Heather, it’s definitely time to take another ride down to Penngrove since your last BiteclubEats review of Yanni’s back in July when Johnny & Francesca first opened up (here is that review) http://www.biteclubeats.com/2010/07/yanni-sausage.html

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    • Yay! Thanks so much for the info mark. I’ll check it out.

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      • I’ll second that recommendation for the cheeseburger at Yanni’s in Penngrove, Heather. It’s really delicious.

        He makes the burger with an overhanging “cheese skirt” (a la the Squeeze Inn) and serves it on the fantastic sourdough rolls from Full Circle Bakery.

        Give it a try…I think you’d like it.

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  27. Fresh this, fresh that, …but not one word on the quality of the beef? Do they buy it in bulk or grind it themselves? In other words, are you eating parts of 1000 cattle or only one? [think what that does for disease transmission odds - watch Frontline's Beef in America] I am an omnivore with significant carnivorous tendencies, but I want to know what I’m being fed…

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    • From their website:
      While our beef is neither organic nor are the cattle free range, our distributor purchases raw materials from the major meat suppliers in the US who are required to treat the cattle humanely and follow all the procedures set forth by the USDA.

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  28. who cares what you think, your just another food critic and i have no faith in food critics or movie critics, i feel a place will only be as good as it is a month , 6 month or a year latter and is still there, also why do we need east coast burger places here, whats wrong with someone getting a fudrucker’s franchise up here like the the in pleasent hills??, then we have another great burger place……….

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    • Well, most of the people that read this blog do care though it is only 1 person opinion. You may disagree with it but other like to hear about it.

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  29. I went opening day for lunch. I wasn’t impressed by the fries but the burger (little cheeseburger, ketchup, mustard, lettuce, tomato, prickle) was pretty good. I’d go back a few time just to get a baseline of what it is all about. Personally, if I’m going to sit down for a burger, I still like Giant Burger on Highway 12 better than all the rest. For about the same price as Five Guys I can get a great burger, ONION RINGS, and a drink, without all the hype. Also, Piner Cafe has an awesome burger and large plate of fries for less than Five Guys or Giant Burger and you get personal service from happy and smiling waitresses.
    Compared to In n Out…the fries are better at In n Out and the burgers are comparable. IMHO Five Guys has great marketing hype which is really how you sell your product these days.

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  30. I’m a bit concerned that these burgers are being compared to in & out. So these are merely just fast food burgers? Not to be confused with an actual burger, say from superburger or buns & burger…

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  31. Just a note; I always prefer my fries nice and crispy, so when my husband and I went on opening night I opted to order extra crispy right off the bat. My husband ordered his regular. Our fries were exactly the same crispiness (i.e. not crispy at all); mine were somehow just darker in color. I liked the burger better but my fries vote totally goes to In-N-Out. I would much rather have thin cut, crispy fries any day (I also order them extra crispy there at In-N-Out).
    All in all not bad, but not super either.

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  32. Have they ever heard of sourdough buns?!

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  33. Gasp!

    Fish eye lens! I knew my hair had SOME volume going on, but good lord, I didn’t remember it being that BIG when I left!

    Thanks again, Heather!

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    • Most of the photos are from Crista Jeremiason from the Press Democrat. I’m updating the captions now. I was getting a lot of heat from folks to just get ‘em up! So, i’m circling back.

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  34. This looks amazing! Can’t wait to hear your impressions and how it may (or may not) compare to In & Out Burger.

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  35. Saw you guys there last night when we arrived. looks like it was a fun group. I hope we’ll see a write-up soon on the outing. The pics were good though.

    I am thrilled they built one of these here in SR, and even more thrilled they built it across town from me, otherwise I’d be here far too much.

    I have been to the 5 Guys out in Vacaville and enjoyed it. I personally think it’s a better burger than In n Out and totally blows Brody’s of the map. This was my girlfriends first trip to a 5 Guys and without my prompting she said the same thing. She has great taste in burgers, and men I might add.

    It was nice to see all of the smiling faces in the store, even behind the counter. I think the highlight for me was the older couple seated next to us. The gentlemen informed his wife ” You don’t ever have to ask me what I want for dinner anymore, this is it”.

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  36. It doesn’t look appealing.

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  37. You are SO making me resent what I brought for lunch today. Mmmmm….burgers….

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