I told my co-workers I was going to Five Guys to order a bacon-cheeseburger and fries, and then I intended to return to work and expire.

I was joking, of course, and the fact that you are reading this now is proof enough that I survived — at least long enough to write this story. If you read an obituary this week about a middle-aged features writer dying suddenly, well, then, adios. But what a way to go.

Five Guys does two things exceptionally well: burgers and fries. You can sum up the appeal of this place like this. When I went for lunch last Friday afternoon, the place was packed solid, and at least 75 percent of the people in there were guys just like me.

Don’t go if you are worried about your figure. Go if you want a succulent, juicy and decadent slab of beef. Or two.

I ordered the bacon cheeseburger ($6.39) and regular fries ($2.69). For my healthy choice item, I also bought a bottle of water ($1.99). Don’t laugh, I could have ordered a Coke.

The regular burger is actually two burgers, both thick and solid. The “small” burger is a single patty. They are served on sesame seed buns.

Five Guys is a national chain, and it just opened on Fore Street in Portland.

It’s a pretty impressive operation. I showed up at 12:50 p.m., and the line to order at the counter snaked out the door. It took about 10 minutes to make it up to the counter.

While waiting, I munched on peanuts in the shell, which are available throughout the restaurant. There are also large bags of Idaho potatoes scattered about, which help to form the lines like sandbags holding back floodwaters.

I ordered at 1:01 p.m., and had my sack of fat and calories at 1:22 p.m. Given the depth of the line and the number of people ahead of me waiting for food — I counted 33 — I was impressed with the efficiency of this place. (A word to the wise: If you don’t want to wait, order online at fiveguys.com.)

Even in its early days of operation, Five Guys have the operation down like clockwork. There’s a line of cooks grilling burgers, another group frying fries in peanut oil, and a station where the burgers are assembled. It’s the latter group of workers who have the most to say about the final outcome of your meal.

There are many toppings to choose from, and all are free: mayo, lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, ketchup and mustard. You can also add relish, onions, peppers and various sauces.

I was impressed watching these folks put the burgers together as they kept track of each burger and what ingredients went where.

When the burger is ready to go, they fold it up in foil, add the fries — everybody orders fries — and plop it in a bag, and the counterman then calls your number.

There are choices other than just burgers. Also available are hot dogs, grilled cheese sandwiches and a veggie sandwich, as well as a grilled veggie sandwich.

While waiting in line, my wife said she intended to get the veggie sandwich. But in the interest of full disclosure, I have to say that she never made it to the front of the line. She bailed, fearful it would take too long to get her food. She had an appointment coming up and didn’t want to be late.

Instead, she trekked back to the food court at the downtown building where she works and ordered a salad.

Guess who enjoyed their lunch more.

The Features staff of The Portland Press Herald anonymously samples meals for about $7.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: