I don’t know what you believe in, but I know you believe that sometimes things just work out. Call it fate, coincidence, kismet, the stars aligning, the hand of God making His presence known to the Universe, call it dumb luck. Whatever it is, sometimes things happen with absolutely no reason, and you get exactly what you want. What I wanted was a greasy fucking cheeseburger.
And, naturally, not just any greasy fucking cheeseburger, but a Five Guys burger.
Five Guys Burgers & Fries opened in 1986 in my home town of Arlington, VA, but I didn’t have one until years later after they moved their first store to the neighboring Alexandria, VA. It’s a company focused on quality and not cutting corners, and making greasy fucking burgers that embody the pinnacle of desirable nastiness. In 2002, they began franchising, which I wouldn’t discover until 2009 when a franchise opened in Edina, MN. I was driving down France Avenue when I saw the name on the side of a strip mall and I pulled over immediately, went in and was asked “have you been here before?” GOOD ONE, YOU DUMB IDIOT, I’LL HAVE A CHEESEBURGER WITH PICKLES, TOMATO, GRILLED ONION, MAYO, KETCHUP, MUSTARD, AND JALAPEÑOS. AND FRIES.
It tasted like home.
And it’s exactly what I wanted this past Friday night. But they closed at 10, and I work at a restaurant. I’m “first cut” on Fridays which means I get to leave first. I don’t get to leave at a predetermined time, just as soon as it’s slow enough that they don’t need me anymore. This means I could go at 8 or I could go when we close — midnight on Fridays –but usually means I leave around 10. And I wanted a greasy fucking cheeseburger.
At around 6, my dream seemed out of reach. We were busy as fuck and would be for the next three hours, but around 9, the clouds parted and sunshine peeked through, and it looked like I would be getting out of there after I got a few things ready for the next day. I got everything in the bag around 9:30, realizing I now had 30 minutes to bike to a place that took 20 minutes to bike to, and checked the Five Guys website to discover a most blessed boon: online ordering. At 9:35 I was out the door with an order placed to be ready before I got there. Straining muscles that hadn’t sat for 12 hours that day, I pedaled like the Devil was at my back and made it to Five Guys in 15 minutes.
But I didn’t get a greasy fucking cheeseburger that day; I got two. One with almost nothing, and one with nearly everything.
First of all, this is what a bag carrying two greasy fucking cheeseburgers should look like. I biked home with it in my bag — because yes, I’ll make you cook my sandwiches 15 minutes before you close, but I’m not gonna be that lollygagger in the dining room that you have to passive-aggress out the door — which may have contributed to the bag’s sexiness. Regardless, the burgers contained sufficient grease to squeeze out into the bag, and I didn’t even get any fries this time. I want a juicy burger, and good fat content is the be-all-end-all, but a there’s a certain amount of straight nastiness that tastes like sweet sin. All together now: greasy fucking cheeseburger.
For the first one I went simple: pickles, mustard, ketchup. Five Guys makes their own sesame seed buns, which are nice and squishy — perfect for holding a greasy fucking cheeseburger. The sear’s surprisingly great here for a fast food burger. It’s well-seasoned, and wonderfully greasy for a medium-well. And American cheese, obviously.
The second one I went all-out: mayo, ketchup, mustard, lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, jalapeños, hot sauce. Honestly, I went too far. There was too much going on, and I should have been going for some kind of specific flavor profile. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great. To be completely honest, the first burger would have been better with some onions. It’s all about balance.
Five Guys’ focus on quality shows. They’re picky about ingredients, but it doesn’t mean everything goes super well together. You gotta have a plan, you gotta think about crafting something, and you might fuck it up, but for $6.99 a pop you can afford a little trial and error. The Five Guys empire is built on quality and consistency, so I’m confident that anyone in the country can walk into any of their literally hundreds of locations and get a nasty fucking greasy fucking cheeseburger, and love every sinful second of it.