2887 Dixie Highway
Crestview Hills, KY
When this award-winning Washington D.C.-based chain opened in Clifton earlier in the year we stopped by to try it but the queues were out the door and we didn't feel like waiting. We've tried to get into the restaurant several times since but it always seems to be hopping. Ditto the Crestview Hills location, and our criteria for Five Guys has been this: "if there are no empty tables visible, we aren't even going in the door."
Luckily we finally got around to visiting at the tail end of the lunch rush, and although the place was still busy, it wasn't so crazy that there was no seating to be had. To be on the safe side however, we laid claim to a table before joining the queue at the counter. Immediately noticable are the bulging bags of potatoes stacked neatly nearby. These are not for decoration; the potatoes will wind up as someone's french fries later on.
The concept is similar to fast food. Orders are taken at a counter and picked up several minutes later at a second counter, with a menu limited to several types of burgers, hot dogs, fries and soft drinks. The difference between Five Guys and your average Burger King or McDonalds is in the execution. The open kitchen insures that diners can watch their selection being made, all toppings are free, and the fries are cut fresh and fried in small batches.
The fries are where this chain really excels. They may be more time consuming to prepare than those of their fast food counterparts, but are delicious and certainly worth the effort and the wait.
The restaurant's veggie sandwich is different from what you might expect. Instead of a frozen Gardenburger or Boca patty, the sandwich consists of a bun and as many of the free toppings as you wish, all for $2.69. Vegetarians will be happy to know that the Five Guys policy is to keep the grilling stations for vegetables and meats separate, so those grilled onions and mushrooms are worry-free. If a bun filled with veggies doesn't appeal, the restaurant also offers the tried and true grilled cheese.
Something to keep in mind with the fries: employees throw in an extra scoop when bagging them up, so a "regular" order (the smallest they offer) is easily enough for two people. Wish we had known that beforehand, as Steve and I both ordered fries and it was way too much.
Vegetarians can't go wrong with the veggie sandwich. It's a flavorsome but very messy affair, and the pile of napkins stuffed into the bag were saturated by the time I was finished eating. Oddly, my hands smelled of the meal for the rest of the day, even after repeated washings.
It is refreshing that more fast food restaurants are starting to cater to the vegetarian diner, and kudos to Five Guys for making it affordable. They aren't going to top Subway for vegetarian-friendly, healthy fare, but as an occasional caloric splurge it's pretty darned tasty.