There are only a few dishes that you can call “All American”. One of those dishes is a simple hamburger. Whenever I return to Canada, one of the foods that I have to get is a hamburger. Whenever anyone visits Canada or America, a burger is a must eat. There are many places in Canada where you can get a good burger, but to be honest, most of the best places are originally from America. While most of the best gourmet burgers can only be found locally, and Vancouver does have its fair share of good gourmet restaurants with their own take on gourmet burgers, it is difficult to find a good Canadian chain that has great burgers. McDonald’s or Burger King is not the type of establishment where I would say you can get a great burger. It is where you go for a cheap burger where the price generally matches the quality. When you want a good mid-level priced burger, you have to go to the smaller chains such as In-N-Out Burger, White Castle, Fatburger, and now Five Guys.
Five Guys is a burger shop that started in Washington DC. It came about as 4 brothers and their father decided to open up a shop in Washington. This continued shop continued to be run by them when a 5th brother was born. Obviously this new son was added into the company and the father eventually retired keeping the Five Guys moniker true to form. They remained local until 2003 when they opened up their shop to franchises. I never heard of Five Guys until my recent trip back home to Vancouver. They currently have 1 location that I can verify as open in Vancouver. On their website, they state that 1 is closed for renovations and 2 are opening soon. I never had a chance to scout them so I can’t say if they are there or not. I also know of one location in Washington State but I’m sure there are more. The menu is very simple with basic burgers, hot dogs, some sandwiches, and fries. There really isn’t much more to that. Five Guys is a very simple operation with small shops. They use a white and red colour scheme with red checkers and a red counter as a signature décor in all of their shops. Their logo is very simple as it only says Five Guys on it without any logo or anything else to make it stand out. You would be a little hard pressed to find their shops at times as they can be tucked in within strip malls or other shopping malls, but that is what makes it fun to go to this shop.
The menu, as I said, is pretty simple. I only tried their burgers and fries but from what I read, if I stayed in Vancouver a lot longer, I’d be trying their other items too. Their burgers are made with fresh ground beef which had never been frozen. They also have a very unique approach to burgers. Rather than having set types of burgers, they have basic burgers and you can customize it with the toppings. Unlike many other places you can put whatever toppings you want on your burger, free of charge. You can order all of the standard things from onions and mushrooms to lettuce and pickles. You have the standard ketchup and mustard as well as various barbecue sauces and hot sauce. They also have fries that they proclaim are fried in peanut oil that contains no cholesterol. You can get two flavours, salted or Cajun style. Cajun style is special spice that they put on top of the fries to make it red and spicy. It is pretty good but not the best thing to have when you are already overloaded with simple basic flavours of their delicious burgers.
There is something about going to a place where the burgers are simple and good. I love to have a nice gourmet burger, and I often eat cheap burgers at McDonald’s here in Japan. It is a completely different monster to eat a good burger in Canada or America. I love to eat them but I can’t eat it every day. Five Guys satisfied my appetite for a good burger. They did it so well that I never craved another burger after that visit. I will crave another burger someday but I doubt I’ll be as satisfied as when I was there. In Japan, I miss getting a good simple burger, even if it does cost a little more. I can get good burgers but I am often left feeling that the taste is missing a little something. I’m not too sure why but I think it is all in the beef. It can be a little dry in Japan but most of the time I am eating at fast food eateries when I eat burgers. I can’t wait to go back to Canada and get my burger fix again. Thankfully, after eating at Five Guys, I think I’ll be okay for at least a year.