As a native to Georgia where we have no In-N-Outs nearby, Five Guys is everybody’s go-to burger place. They’re everywhere around here, and their burgers are near-universally accepted to be the best out of all the common fast food places. However, during my travels out west, I’ve been fortunate enough to have had In-N-Out a dozen or so times over the years. With the great debate raging on between Five Guys’ fans and In-N-Out loyalists, I feel qualified to throw my two cents out.
There are two main problems with the In-N-Out versus Five Guys debate: 1) most East Coasters have never had In-N-Out, so they just scoff at the idea that it could be better than Five Guys and 2) the two burgers are vastly different from each other.
An In-N-Out burger is characterized by the “spread” a condiment which is derived from thousand island dressing, giving the burgers a unique taste. In-N-Out also uses very fresh lettuce and tomatoes. A typical In-N-Out burger, the double double, can be seen here. Burgers and fries can also be ordered “animal style” which adds an extra portion of spread as well as grilled onions.
Five Guys is a bit different. Their burgers are a bit cruder than In-N-Out’s, but they taste pretty dang good. Like In-N-Out, Five Guys’ burgers have the traditional toppings of onions, tomato, and lettuce, but they lack the x-factor of a defining topping like “spread”. However, Five Guys does give customers (literally) an entire bag of fries when you order fries, and they serve peanuts in their restaurants if you eat in. Have you ever ordered fries and seen them just plop a fries container in the bottom of the bag then scoop fries all over? A greasy bag of Five Guys’ fries is a good time.
But which is better? Sorry to all my fellow southern folks, but I’m going to have to side with In-N-Out on this one. The spread is really what puts them over the edge for me. It gives their burgers an extremely unique flavor and blends well with the freshness of the burger patties. In-N-Out also seems to use fresher lettuce and tomatoes than Five Guys, and they don’t get as soggy and saturated with grease as Five Guys’ toppings.
So yes, In-N-Out is better. Five Guys isn’t bad by any metric, but it doesn’t have enough uniqueness to make it superior to its West Coast counterpart.