“Guys, are you up for Five Guys?” That’s the running joke among my friends and I when we were deciding if we want to eat in Five Guys. Haha! So relax, the Five Guys are not literally five men but it’s the franchise of THE Five Guys Burger Restaurant from the USA.
Apart from the local brands of burgers that are spreading like mushrooms in the city, there are also international brands that have opened in Riyadh. Well, no problem for us as we’re always on the lookout for something new, tasty, and delicious! I’m pretty sure you’ve tried a bunch of them already and made comparisons. Truthfully, I think I can no longer make a distinction, especially if I’ve been eating burger one after the other just because I wanted to try them all in one go. However, I can still taste what’s a fresh, good burger from the one that just wants to ride the burger bandwagon.
A few months ago, we saw the “Opening Soon” sign of Five Guys burger in Exit 5. Truth be told. I have no idea what Five Guys is but I was informed that it’s a popular brand of burgers in the States, something like Shake Shack. That got my interest. Five Guys finally opened… while I was on vacation so technically, no first dibs on there but a few nights ago, after a full day of fun and activities, we settled in one of Five Guy’s booths and had their burgers.
Five Guys is a “big guy” when it comes to burgers, hotdogs and fries. Founded in 1986 by Janie and Jerry Murrell, the first Five Guys branch was opened at Arlington County, Virginia. Who are these five guys?, you might be wondering. The “five guys” are Jerry and his sons, Matt, Jim, Chad, and Ben. They were the original five guys until the fifth son, Tyler, came. I guess the dad got bumped out of the “five guys” after that. What makes their burgers popular is their sweeter and eggier buns and their juicy patties. Five Guys is the “Number 1 Burger” by Washingtonian Magazine for seven years (wow right) and they have received numerous awards and fantastic reviews from various print and online sites. You’ll actually see some of their features and reviews in their walls. US President Barack Obama is said to be a fan.
It’s a good thing that they opened a branch in Riyadh. While a bit far away from the city center, you might want to know now that there is an ongoing “relocation” of Tahlia in Exit 5. Haha! There’s a street that’s said to be snatching the gustatory capital of Riyadh from the busy Tahlia Street in Suleimania where most restaurants are. Now, almost all restaurants that are popular in the city center are already in Exit 5 and boy are they lucky they get the first dibs to everything opening there. Anyway, so Five Guys… they opened a few weeks ago and we visited last night. There was still quite a long line to the counter but waiting time is tolerable. Also the complimentary roasted in-shell peanuts makes the wait worthwhile.
Fie Guys in Riyadh, like most branches all over the world, has the red-and-white checked decorations and open kitchen. Unlike Five Guys branches all over the world, the Riyadh branch is divided into the Bachelor and the Family section with the latter having closed and open booths. They have booths for large groups of families and friends and they have smaller ones for those who want to hide from the rest of the restaurant. Hehe. I meant they have booths with curtains on them so people can eat in private. I like the airy and cheerful ambiance of the place. There are huge signages and small frames where features and reviews of Five Guys can be read. There are sacks of potatoes and peanuts near the cashier and the counter. Most employees are wearing red and they shout the order numbers when done.
Unlike other burger restaurants in the city, Five Guys has a very simple menu: hamburger, cheeseburger, little burger, little cheeseburger. That’s it. The simplicity is refreshing. I didn’t have to get stumped with a lot of kinds of burgers complete with enormous amount of toppings. French fries are the only side item that is available and even their fries are only available in “Five Guys Style” (which translates to regular salted) or “Cajun style” (which translates to seasoned, spicy). They have hotdogs and grilled cheese sandwich too. Drinks are typical sodas (refillable woot) and milk shakes.
I ordered a regular-sized cheeseburger, a side of Cajun style fries, a glass of refillable regular Coke, and strawberry milkshake (what?!? I’m hungry!). I immediately opened my burger, wait… hold it! I took a photo first. For you Pink Tarha readers of course, haha! I went ahead and took a huge bite of my double patty burger and expected to have my tastebuds blown! However, the burger tasted just okay for me. The soft buns are really great but the patties tasted like they’re missing something. A bit of seasoning I guess? I tasted the onions, mushroom, cheese and the sauces more than the beefy goodness of the patty. The assortment of toppings are free though so put more for more flavors in your burger! The “little burger” which has the single patty is actually enough for a regular person. My double patty burger was too large for me that I ended up taking home half of it (actually I’m eating it while writing this so I can say this is an authentic review, haha).
The fries were GREAT! They look like rustic potato sticks that you can do on your own kitchen – not perfectly shaped but perfectly cut, brownish, and sprinkled with Cajun spice. It has more complex flavor than the burger patty! Haha! It’s crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside. It’s also fried in peanut oil which makes it a tad bit healthier than the usual ones found in fast food burger joints. They also have a bottle of malt vinegar said to be the sidekick of their fries. Unfortunately for us, we thought the vinegar was for the burger and so we doused ours with a few drops and proclaimed that it was okay with our burger not knowing that it was for the fries!!! LOL. Anyway, with or without the malt vinegar, the fries are delicious!
As for the milkshake, I don’t think there was anything WOW with it. My strawberry milkshake tasted “commercial” and it got cloying after a few long sips. My friend had the salted caramel milkshake and we couldn’t reach a consensus on what it tasted like. She said it tasted like plain vanilla. I didn’t get any of the salted caramel flavor. One friend said she tasted a hint of the caramel with no salt while another friend she tasted the salted caramel as is. WUT?! Haha! The good thing is, you can mix flavors! So I guess it depends on your tastebuds; either you’ll end up looking for the flavor or enjoying their milkshakes as is.
Five Guys has really a good burger and even greater fries but the question for city center dwellers is “Is it worth going to Exit 5 for this?” Yes, if it’s your first time and you’ve been curious about it for the longest time. No, if you’re satisfied with any of the burgers nearer your place and if you can wait for the branch in Faisaliah Mall to open.
The Plaza, King Abdulaziz Road, Exit 5,
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia [MAP]
Sunday to Wednesday – 10:00am to 1:00am
Thursday to Saturday – 10:00am to 2:00am