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Recommendation of the Week: Part I.


A new feature here at WILLisms.com: the recommendation of the week.


I am not a huge burger guy. From a young age, when I'd go to a fast food joint or some other restaurant specializing in hamburgers, I would typically get the chicken strips or nuggets or sandwich. It's not that I am anti-burger, it's just that most of them are pretty bad, with their bland beef, rubbery toppings, watery condiments, and flimsy buns.

There are plenty of people who will only patronize their local mom-and-pop burger joint. That's great. I am sort of one of those people. There are a lot of fantastic local hamburgers out there, so why not try them out.

But I've got to go on record here, regarding the best hamburger chain in the country. I know there are a lot of In-N-Out fans on the West Coast, and a lot of Sonic fans in the middle of the country, and a lot of Whataburger fans in Texas, while others might prefer Burger King, McDonald's, Carl's Jr., Wendy's, White Castle, Krystal, Hardee's, Fatburger, or any number of other chains. Some people might say Culver's, with its butter burger, is the best chain, or maybe Fuddrucker's, but now we're starting to venture into sit-down restaurant territory and out of fast food.

My vote goes to a place called Five Guys Famous Burgers & Fries.

Here is the entire Five Guys menu:


Essentially, you enter the place and grab a handful or two of peanuts and start shelling and eating them. Step up and order. Grab a seat. Eat some more peanuts.

These made-to-order burgers are fantastic, plain and simple. And large, and relatively inexpensive. The ingredients are all fresh and genuine and high in quality (they use 80/20 beef). If you aren't a big eater, get the "little" version of the burger of your choice. The regular size is two patties, while the "little" is just one, always on a bun the Five Guys bake themselves. If you like bacon on your burger but are worried it might be floppy and weak, have no fear. Five Guys' bacon is crisp, like it ought to be. Choose your toppings. Note that the jalapeƱo peppers are fresh, not pickled. Five Guys is essentially the only place in Washington, DC to get any fresh jalapeƱos. All the extras are free of charge.

Get the fries. Either kind. They bring in real Idaho potatoes (and even display which part of Idaho-- or sometimes Washington state-- they came from), cut them fresh in the store and fry them in peanut oil. Note that you can probably split a small order between two people, or a large order among three. These are what french fries should taste like. Fresh, never frozen. Real, not processed. Just really good.

Although the food is made after you order it, it doesn't take forever. It still qualifies as fast food.

To the Five Guys guys, I humbly extend the following business plan for your perusal:


That's it. That's the entire business plan. Expand into other parts of the country, especially Austin, Texas. As far as I know, major expansion is already in the works. Assuming franchisees around the country can successfully replicate the Five Guys formula, you will succeed.

There may be better burger joints out there, or better burgers, or better fast food places, but Five Guys is everything a chain burger joint should be. It is really the only thing I miss about the Washington, DC area.

Note: I am not being compensated for these recommendations. I just think they might be useful to WILLisms.com readers. I always welcome your alternative suggestions, as well.

Posted by Will Franklin · 15 November 2007 01:28 PM


There's a place in Dallas - one location only - called Keller's.

Really good burgers. Just drive up, check out the menu (big one on the side of the building) and turn on your flashers if you need a waitress.

Good, fast and inexpensive.

Posted by: Hoodlumman at November 15, 2007 01:56 PM

I remember you telling me about that place when you were in DC. Yum yum!...

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at November 15, 2007 08:01 PM

For a fast food burger, Jack in the Box Ultimate Cheeseburger, no mayo. JIB cooks their burgers longer so they are brown, not grey.

Posted by: zoot fenster at November 16, 2007 08:08 AM

I'll have to try Keller's the next time I'm up there.

Posted by: Will Franklin at November 16, 2007 09:36 AM

They're about a mile from where I live, Will. Give me a heads up and I'll buy.

Posted by: Hoodlumman at November 16, 2007 04:53 PM

We had a couple of "Cheeburger Cheeburger" restaurants in Omaha for a couple of years- I don't know why they closed here- always packed out on Friday & Saturday.Similar fare to Fuddrucker's- Good burgers, fries, rings , malts, with a fun 50's diner - malt shop feel to the place.
Kids and Wife loved the place, I did too.
I see they are still strong in Florida, and sparsely scattered across the rest of the country
including... JFK Airport !?
Hmmm...we may have to take a plane ride.


Posted by: Terry_Jim at November 16, 2007 10:25 PM

Oh, man! Why couldn't you have posted this before I went to DC?

Oh, well.

In-N-Out Burger--found only in CA, NV, and AZ--has really good fast food. Nothing is ever frozen, except the ice cream that goes into the shakes. Simple menu; everything made fresh.

In the Pacific Northwest (OR & WA), Burgerville is the way to go. They get their food locally and make it fresh. They have seasonal specials, like shakes made with local berries and sweet potato fries. Much more extensive menu than the minimalist ones of In-N-Out Burger or Five Guys.

Johnny Rockets is an international chain that has better decor than food (but it is better than national chains like McVomit's, Burger Thing, Jack Off In The Box, etc.). The restaurants are supposed to look like diners from the 40s and 50s, and they are really nostalgic (even though I'm not old enough to have experienced either decade). Unfortunately, the Americana effect was ruined for me when I went to one in San Jose that had all Mexican employees.


Posted by: Nathan Hale at November 17, 2007 03:06 AM

In Fort Worth, there is a great and long established burger place called Kincaid's.


They have finally opened a second Kincaids in Southlake. I tried it, and it is great too.


Posted by: Dan Morgan at November 17, 2007 07:30 PM

If you ever pass through where I grew up, Moulton Alabama...make sure to stop at Neesmith's Burgers. Owned by three sisters, it is made from the cheapest hamburger meat you can buy. That meat is mixed with loaf bread, and then fried in tons of grease. One of the best tasting burgers ever. It can throw a wrench into your gut though.

Posted by: Jay at November 26, 2007 07:27 PM