Five Guys restaurant opened it’s doors last Wednesday, and ALLmercednews decided to pay a visit yesterday and see if it was worthy of all the hype it’s been getting.

These large bags of potatoes created the line for people orderingThe first thing you notice walking in are the queue line barriers that were created with giant bags of potatoes, and big boxes of peanuts (FREE!) at either end of the line.  The kitchen is open, not tucked in the back, and you can hear and feel the energy of the workers as they enthusiastically called out items needing to be cooked and then called customer order numbers for pickup.

The menu

The menu at first glance is relatively simple.  There are not that many different items to select from, but after that you have some decisions to make.  Since I don’t like that many things on my burgers, I brought along a friend who did so he could better evaluate what the majority of people probably enjoy eating.

All burger toppings are free!  Ordering an “all the way” burger will get you toppings of mayo, lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, ketchup, and mustard.  Ordering an “everything” burger also includes relish, inions, jalapeno peppers, green peppers, A1 Steak sauce, BBQ sauce, and hot sauce.  You could also choose to have all of these toppings or select the ones you want.  The price of your burger does not change with the number of toppings you select.  Bacon is not listed as a topping, but there is a bacon burger that is only $1 more than a regular burger or $.30 more than a cheeseburger.

An "All the way" cheeseburger

Something to note is that all orders come in a bag.  There is no asking “for here or to go.”  There were two patties in each of our burgers, and you could tell they were “handmade,”  not the preformed perfectly round patties that come in most fast food burgers or that can be picked up in your local supermarket freezer section.  The taste was good, but looking at the burgers I was a bit disappointed.  They are wrapped tightly in tinfoil, so when you open them the buns are squished flat. Though this may not have affected the taste, it does affect the visual appeal.  I didn’t notice any additional sogginess in the bun.  I’m hoping that wrapping the burgers in tinfoil is temporary and they will come up with a way to pack them that doesn’t result in a smashed flat bun.

This is one order of the "regular" size fries. There were more than enough for two people to share.

The fries: omg.  It is nice to see fries that are cut fresh instead of being pulled out of the freezer.  There is even a whiteboard on the wall to the right of the register that says where the potatoes being used for today’s fries came from. They are cut and cooked with the peel intact, and judging by the giant bottles of oil in between the giant bags of potatoes and boxes of peanuts, we think they cook their fries in peanut oil.  The size of the fries surprised us.  We ordered a “regular” size which was their medium, and the price of $4.19 seemed a bit steep.  The amount of fries did not disappoint.  They filled the cup and then overflowed into the bag, and after dumping them out could have easily filled another cup.  The one order of regular fries was enough for the two of us to share and still have leftovers (we may have eaten more had we not enjoyed the free peanuts first).  They tasted great and the amount of salt used was just right.

Chocolate milkshake, the only size available

For the sake of an accurate review, I had to order a milkshake, much to my waistline’s objection.  The milkshake, priced at $4.49, seemed a little small at first glance, but the cup it was served in was a bit wider than usual, and after consuming it, I was glad it wasn’t any larger.  The shake was good, not too thick and not too thin, and though it was chocolate, it didn’t have that overly sweet chocolate taste that sometimes comes when chocolate syrup is used.  Like the burgers, there is a long list of extra items that can be added to the shake for no additional charge.  I added whipped cream, but passed on the coffee, peanut butter, malted milk, salted caramel, banana, strawberry, oreo creme, and oreo cookie pieces that were available to add.

The fancy touch screen drink dispenser

The drink dispenser was very nice.  Though I’ve had experience with these in other cities, I don’t recall ever using one anywhere in Merced.  It was a touchscreen device manufactured by CocaCola that gives you many drink options…maybe too many!  There was also a very nice selection of iced teas as well as lemon slices in the very clean beverage area.

An employee sweeps immediately after a group left the table.

The service was excellent.  None of the empolyees had nametags (I’m assuming they’re being ordered), so I can’t give any special kudos to anyone, but whoever was in charge of hiring the employees did an excellent job.  Those working in the kitchen area looked and sounded like they were having fun.  The positive energy and enthusiasm was palpable.  The “tradition” of Five Guys is that guests eat peanuts and throw their shells on the floor.  We saw very few shells on the ground, and I don’t know if that is because people weren’t doing it or because of how quickly employees were to sweep immediately after guests vacated their tables.

Overall, I was very happy with my experience at Five Guys.  Though the prices are higher than a fast food joint, the meal components tasted better and were ready quickly, and the service was great.  Hopefully Five Guys doesn’t go the way of many other Merced restaurants and is able to succeed and remain here for many years.