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Five Guys vs. In-N-Out? [moved from Los Angeles board]


The scuttlebutt is true: Five Guys, the famous burger chain on the East Coast, is putting up a shop in Westwood, just a stone's throw from In-N-Out. I work at UCLA and can easily walk to both. On and I will!

My understanding is that Five Guys is the East Coast version of In-N-Out. Both have rabid local followings.

So: is there anyone here who has tried both, and which one is better. Why?

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  1. Five Guys is a bigger burger with more topping including mushrooms (but with a bun that just completly falls apart in the middle of a bite) and it runs a few dollars more than In-N-Out but my heart belong to a Double Double Animal style with extra pickles and fries well.

    1. There is also a Fatburger in Westwood. You could eat a different burger three times a week. If you throw in Barney's Beanery and The Stand you could walk to a different burger every day.

      And that's not counting Burger King in the Village or Carl's Jr on campus.

      As to your question: I prefer In and Out, because I think of it as a great value. The Five Guys burger was bigger, but more expensive. But the real reason I never go to Five Guys is because the store near my house -- Fox Hills Mall -- is always messy. For whatever reason, they never clear or wipe the tables. I've seen employees on their break just sitting around while there is no place to sit because every table is messy, smeared with condiments and peanut shells.

      Don't misunderstand, employees deserve a break, that's not the issue. But the dirty tables is an issue, at least for me. Enough that I've stopped trying to eat there. Maybe the Westwood location will be cleaner.

      (I'm not a neat freak or anything. I get that it's a fast food joint. But the messes I've seen are just icky.)

      6 Replies
      1. re: PaulF

        Yeah, dirty restaurants are a turn off to me too.

        1. re: PaulF

          I wonder why this is on a national board. Fatburger is NOT a national chain. Yet the powers that be on chowhound moved the discussion. No one outside of California has anything to say about Fatburger. Move this thread back to the California board. Now.

          1. re: cwdonald

            Fatburger is NOT a national chain.

            Sorry, but you are mistaken...There are locations from coast to coast, up and down the coasts and in between....If that's not national, than what is it?

            The Jersey City, NJ Fatburger closed within a couple of years of opening. It was fair at best.

            1. re: fourunder

              Fatburger has several branches in Dubai now, so it's technically also an "international" chain.

            2. re: cwdonald

              There's a Fatburger in Columbia, MD!

              1. re: cwdonald

                The thread is for In-n-Out vs. Five Guys. "Chains" is the appropriate forum.

            3. personally, never got the appeal of five guys burger. the bun is terrible. burger was overcooked the 2 times i went. their fries are great but i typically go to a burger place for the burgers. not the fries. i'd take in n out every day of the week. twice on sundays.

              1. I absolutely do not like the buns at Five Guys...they're too sweet and they crumble. In-N-Out is the only way to go.
                Animal style.

                2 Replies
                1. re: latindancer

                  Interesting that there is a consensus so far about the buns. Buns are a very important part of a burger. I don't like them too thick or bready, but certainly don't want them to disintegrate, either.

                  I'd be interested if East Coasters used to Five Guys have tried In-N-Out and how they feel about the two.

                2. "My understanding is that Five Guys is the East Coast version of In-N-Out. Both have rabid local followings."

                  Not really - different niches, entirely. The only thing they seem to share is that they have their rabid followings.

                  1. Why not try both for yourself and decide on your own?

                    Cost of a burger at both places will be no more than $10, maybe $12.

                    Splurge. Live a little.

                    Then come back and tell us what YOU think.

                    Because if you ask us you're never going to get a consensus. A quick search of these boards will more than verify that.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      "Then come back and tell us what YOU think."

                      Yeah, that' the plan when Five Guys opens in Westwood.

                    2. Wow - that's interesting about the buns since I think INO's wonderbread-esque bun is pretty crappy, however they get a plus for toasting them. Does FG's have a better bun than INO - absolutely and I have never had one fall apart on me. Personally I like the thicker denser bun at FG's and the small amount of sweetness is nice.

                      Here is what I posted on another board in response to a reviewer:

                      I read you review, very nicely done btw, but in 'almost' every instance I kept scratching my head and wondering if you got the two mixed up.

                      1) The Bun
                      FG: Bun is almost perfect, nice, a little dense due to the egg and slightly sweet but good flavor
                      INO: wonder bread like, flavorless and too light, seems like the cheapest bun you can buy

                      2) Meat
                      FG: Thick, fresh, lean, very strong beef flavor - mmmmmm good
                      INO: Thin, very salty, fatty, bland tasting except for saltiness

                      3) Cheese
                      FG: Melted, nice quality with good flavor, one of the better Swiss cheeses and of course different choices
                      INO: Yuck, pasty, coats your mouth, cross between Velveeta and cheddar flavor, not something I would want to eat again. No choices except pasty yellow cheese or nothing.

                      4) Produce
                      FG - Lots of choices all about average quality
                      INO - Basics but very good quality and fresh.

                      5) Condiments
                      FG - Again lots of choices all of them good.
                      INO - 1000 island with extra pickle relish - the extra relish seems to overpower what little taste the meat has but it does compliment the produce rather well.

                      FG - Larger, cooked crisp in peanut oil, and you can get them Cajun style but eat them while they are warm and
                      INO - Smaller, usually limp and greasy, even cooking them extra crispy doesn't help much, plus you have a bout a 2 minute window to consume them after that they seem disgusting.

                      The Decision:
                      The meat, bun, toppings, cheese, fries and condiments are all better at 5G while INO wins in produce and price. If you want a good burger that highlights the meat and you can choose to top how you want and don't mind spending some $$ than FG wins hands down. If you want a burger that tastes mostly of sauce and produce with not much meat flavor, except salt and you don't have much money INO is the place to go.

                      SIDEBAR: When I lived in California we used to do blind taste tests on a regular basis and one time we did fast food hamburgers. There were many people who were INO aficionados there that claimed it would win hands down. It didn't, in actuality INO placed in the bottom half each time we did a blind taste test. (A interesting comment from one of the tasters hat loved INO, he identified the burger as INO but said we were pulling a fast one on him and had removed the meat, we hadn't.) I also did a sneaky thing on some relatives from Europe, they had heard that INO was the best burgers in the world and wanted to try it so I bought some INO and Carl's Jr. burgers on the way over to meet them but switched the wrappers. Guess which one they loved - the one in the INO wrapper. My conclusion from that is INO is mostly about low price and hype.

                      NOTE: FG's depends on the franchisee, some are good some are not so good so YMMV. INO does not have that problem the burger is the same everywhere.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: RetiredChef

                        UPDATE: I just ate at a five guys on the west coast and the bun was VERY different that what I had on the east coast. If the company has changed to this bun then I understand why there are complaints, it was not very good and did indeed get mushy and fell apart.

                        1. re: RetiredChef

                          1) The Bun
                          FG: Bun is almost perfect,

                          It's been opined by many ....including myself, the bun is pretty bad on the East Coast.

                          1. re: fourunder

                            Hmmmm, maybe they changed, I was introduced to FG on the east coast and had them 3 times at 3 different locations, the bun was the same at all three, however that was almost three years ago. That is why those complaints that I read never computed - but they do now, if this bun is what they serve everywhere - yuck.

                      2. Check the discussions at the bottom of your thread!

                        1. If I'm not from the east coast, will I like 5 Guys? My take on In N Out is that locals love it cause they grew up on it, or had no money to afford pricier food, so they have sentimental attachment.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: andrew_eats

                            If you like your buns gummy and soggy, due to the fact they wrap the finished product in foil and it steams.....or if you like your burgers well done, then you will like 5 Guys.

                            One point not mentioned. The toppings are free, but really you do pay for them whether you like it or not. The price of the burger includes them. A *Little Cheeseburger* is $4.69 and a *Regular Cheeseburger* is $6.19. The difference between the two in size is the LC is a 3.3 ounce patty by specification. The RC is a double patty. Considering the options available in the area, 5-Guys burgers are not even on my radar.......however, I do agree the fries are good when you eat them in the store, but the way they package them, they are not very good if you take them out, again, due to steaming in the bag.

                            1. re: andrew_eats

                              I am from the east coast, but I've lived in LA for many years now.

                              Qualifier-- LA is a burger town. Tons of char-grilled mom and pops dot the landscape, the popular mini and large fast food chains (like Astro Burger and In-N-Out), as well as the upscale Fancyburgers™ that you find in Gastropubs and specialized burger joints all over the Southland.

                              I just tried my first Five Guys cheeseburger today. The result? A hot mess.

                              Who thought it was a good idea to wrap a burger in foil? When you open the thing it's a disgusting mess-- crushed, limp and sad, steaming not only the bread, but the delicate vegetables like lettuce so there's no crunch left in them. The bun was so wet that it disintegrated about 1/3 way into the burger. The meat was under seasoned, and was essentially a texture vehicle for the toppings.

                              The whole experience was sad, sad, sad. I'm glad I tried it once, but I will not be back. As far as I am concerned, it was a waste of 900 calories.

                              Mr Taster

                            2. They're nothing at all alike.

                              Five Guys has much larger burgers with more toppings - bacon, sauteed mushrooms, grilled onions, etc. Their junior burger with a regular order of fries is more than enough food for me and I'm a guy who weighs over 200 lbs. They also have outstanding french fries and tell you the exact farm the potatoes came from. I don't know if they have special requirements for their potatoes but the fries are outstanding.

                              In-n-Out, on the other hand, is an overhyped fast food chain with just another cardboard patty and fries that aren't worth the calories.

                              24 Replies
                              1. re: mahalan

                                I'm glad to know that they are different beasts. I was under the impression that they were very similar types of burgers.

                                I disagree strongly with you on In-N-Out, however. They certainly ARE fast food, but great fast food. And I'm realizing that as much as I can appreciate "gourmet" burgers, I'm really quite done with them. (Not to say that Five Guys is "gourmet.")

                                1. re: mahalan

                                  I can respect anyone's opinion, but I would say calling I&O a "another cardboard patty and fries that aren't worth the calories" is really REALLY a stretch. I&O is clearly superior to your average fast food burger, I've never met a person who thought otherwise.

                                    1. re: Captain_Aizen

                                      Meet me too, I find INO pretty average fast food fare, fries are just awful but let's stick to their burger which is average, better than some not as good as others. My proof is that our food group used to do true blind taste testing's and they did three different burger tests and INO always placed in the middle of the results. So when you couldn't see and didn't know what you were eating even INO aficionados picked other fast food burgers as superior.

                                      1. re: RetiredChef

                                        It's not fair to do a blind taste test. We eat with our eyes just as much as we eat with our noses and mouths.

                                        To be clear, this is what a Five Guys PR photo of a bacon cheeseburger looks like:

                                        This is the actual product:

                                        That's pretty much what my burger looked like when I opened it. Soggy bun, wilted lettuce, a mess. Sad, sad, sad-- the whole thing steamed in foil until everything just died.

                                        Now, here's a PR photo of an In-N-Out burger

                                        And photos of what a typical burgers from In-N-Out look like:

                                        The funny thing is, in the case of In-N-Out, I think the real burgers actually look a lot more appetizing and inviting than the the official PR photo- exactly the opposite experience when you compare the Five Guys burger. The PR photo looks like a plasticine model like they have in Japanese restaurant windows.

                                        Freshness is communicated in large part through our eyes. You can see that the big beautiful iceberg, tomato and onions are not old and wilted. They're bright, crisp and colorful as they poke out of the plump bun. You can see that Five Guys burger is clearly a disgusting mess. Freshness was an afterthought, if they even thought about it at all.

                                        Mr Taster

                                        1. re: Mr Taster

                                          But would you really rank the "freshness" of either burger above the other? It's really about presentation, and as you and so many others have pointed out, that FG wraps their burger in foil it steams and makes the whole thing soggy and disintegrated. I've only eaten there once, and ate it in the restaurant immediately after being served, and didn't experience that.

                                          I just don't know what makes FG special. A million other places do their burgers. You only get an INO burget at INO.

                                          1. re: EarlyBird

                                            >> But would you really rank the "freshness" of either burger above the other?

                                            Yes, I would.

                                            >> It's really about presentation
                                            >> FG wraps their burger in foil it steams and makes the whole thing soggy

                                            When you wrap a hot burger in a piece of metal, and the burger continues to cook, we're no longer talking about presentation, but rather about preparation. One is purely about aesthetics. The other is about how the restaurant actually cooks and prepares their food-- two fundamentally different concepts.

                                            "Unwrap it and eat it right away" is not an acceptable workaround for a known problem with an obvious solution (i.e. don't steam your already cooked burger).

                                            Although it drives me crazy that Five Guys knows about this problem and yet do nothing to fix it, it makes me totally batty that people love it anyway. Somehow, people either 1) do not mind the soggy fall-apart bun and wilted vegetables, 2) aren't paying attention to these problems or 3) simply don't care.

                                            For what it's worth, I had the same reaction when TV stations were still broadcasting 4:3 aspect ratios on 16:9 TVs and hardly anyone (except me) seemed to notice or care that they were watching grotesquely distorted, stretched images. Everyone on TV was suddenly shaped either like Jabba the Hutt or C3PO, and nobody seemed to notice or care. Thankfully, technology seems to have more or less sorted out that technological blip, despite the fact that few were actually calling for change

                                            Sometimes I feel like other humans are experiencing an entirely different world than I am.

                                            Mr Taster

                                                1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                  Where did you find my 2nd grade photo?!?!

                                                  Mr Taster

                                            1. re: Mr Taster

                                              A blind TASTE test is exactly that - a test to determine what the taster likes the best without any outside (marketing) influence. As far as eating with your eyes - it seems you picked the worse looking picture of 5G's you could find on the internet when there were plenty of others that looked much better, you also chose not to post the INO burger pictures that were nasty looking. So a fair comparison would be nasty looking 5G's vs nasty looking INO OR good looking 5G's vs good looking INO.

                                              The bottom line is that looks is more important to you, but to me taste is king. I would much rather have a plain looking plate of food that is tastes great than a plate of great looking food that tastes plain. To each his own.

                                              BTW I never mentioned 5G's in my post, I do think 5G's is a superior product when done right and an inferior product when done incorrectly. Their (new) 5G bun is terrible on the other hand I am glad to see that INO has changed their bun for the better (at least in Arizona it was different then the buns they served 4-5 years ago.) IMHO if INO is a 5 than 5G's is a 4 (done poorly) or a 6 (done well), there are much better burgers out there than either INO and 5G's


                                              1. re: RetiredChef

                                                >> ...it seems you picked the worse looking picture of 5G's you could find on the internet ... you also chose not to post the INO burger pictures that were nasty looking.

                                                This is not at all what I did. I selected pics that best represented my personal experience eating at both establishments. I then compared them with the best publicity photos I could find.

                                                Case in point... this is a better looking In-N-Out burger photo:


                                                ...but I didn't pick that one, because my In-N-Out burgers don't commonly look that beautiful (although they do sometimes.)

                                                And I was actually kind to Five Guys, in that my actual burger bun was far greasier than the one in the photo I selected.

                                                >> The bottom line is that looks is more important to you

                                                You are clearly unfamiliar with my nearly ten years of contributions to the Los Angeles Chowhound board

                                                (or, even this post just a few inches above, where I make the argument for quality over appearance.. however in the case of burger garnish, they go hand in hand):


                                                Mr Taster

                                              2. re: Mr Taster

                                                I would add one other thing, there were quite a few INO aficionados that did the blind taste testing, they were quite vocal about being able to pick out the INO burger and were quite sure it would trounce the competition. (NOTE: This was the second burger blind taste test done by this group, the first one INO came in 3 out of 6 when it was tasted against mostly national chains, so there was some zealotry behind the INO crowd to prove that their burger was indeed the best. This group also did a third blind burger test and once again INO performed in the middle of the pack.)

                                                Interestingly only one INO aficionado was able to identify the INO burger but even more paradoxically is that the INO aficionados rated the INO burger slightly lower than the non INO crowd. Another oddity is that the INO crowd picked Del Taco's burger (this was supposed to be the ringer in this blind taste test) most often as the 'true' INO burger. They also rated this burger higher than the non-INO crowd. (SIDEBAR: It's my opinion that the INO people were confused because the del Taco Burger was the saltiest of the 6 and I have seen that most people who love salt love the saltiness of the INO burger. Therefore when they tasted the burger they assumed the saltiest one was the INO burger and voted that way. To further back up my conjecture the INO crowd also rated the 2nd saltiest burger, higher than the non-INO crowd)

                                                I can tell you this, doing blind tastings is a hoot, we have done lots of these and the results when you don't know what you are tasting has always surprised everyone. Examples - Imitation crab cakes were preferred over real crab cakes by a 7:3 margin, the cheapest pasta in a taste test ranked the highest, Pepsi really does win the blind taste test, most people cannot identify strawberries without the sense of smell or sight, etc. etc. You just have to be prepared to let go of you preconceived notions and accept the outcomes, luckily our food group was all good natured and in most cases worked in the industry so some of this 'research' actually was put to use.


                                                1. re: Mr Taster

                                                  While this youtube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZXpkZ... wasn't a "blind" taste test it is interesting from a couple of standpoints. First the two chains being rated (I&O and 5G's) were directly across the street from one another (allowing for equally fresh and hot burgers and fries to be sampled without undue travel/cooling/steaming time in between purchase and tasting).

                                                  Secondly this was a 20 person taste test, so a very diverse crowd including some guys from what sounded like Australia who had never before tasted burgers from either chain.

                                                  Finally, while I don't think I&O fries are tasty at all, this group split down the middle on the fries essentially. One person was undecided, but those who chose one over the other resulted in a 9 for 5G's and 10 for I&O.

                                                  Finally the burger preference was a total rout. 18 for I&O to 1 for 5G's with, again, one undecided.

                                                  For me the one issue that kills all the other fast food burger places is that, while they won't cook my burger to anything but well done, I&O will cook it the way I prefer it, medium rare. That's one factor that just can't be overcome by any of the other chains...

                                                  1. re: Servorg


                                                    I have seen that youtube video, but until you remove people's biases you will never get an accurate result. Hence why scientific studies are done double-blind so even the scientists biases can't effect the outcome. Besides the tasting was done in CA, home of INO, did you really expect INO to lose when there is so much peer pressure to declare it is a culinary orgasm?

                                                    To show you how strong biases work I had relatives from Europe coming to visit, In-N-Out is actually known almost worldwide and people who haven't even tried it can be cultish towards it. So my relatives wanted to try INO and we played a dirty trick on them, we bought two INO burgers and fries and two Carl's Jr. Burgers and fries, we then switched the burgers and fries and gave my unsuspecting relatives the INO (which were really Carl's Jr.) burger. They tore into it and declared it was the best meal ever, when we asked them to try our burgers they scoffed but we insisted and after taking a bite of a real INO burger that they thought was from Carl's Jr. Declared it was inferior slop and couldn't understand why we would want that.

                                                    That's the power that advertising has on us, it changes our biases. I would bet that if you took twenty people who have never had INO or 5Gs and did that same test in CA but switched the wrappers as I did to my relatives, you would get the same result. Bias and our resulting perceptions that are skewed by it have far more control over us than most people know.


                                                    1. re: RetiredChef

                                                      Nothing to be done about my bias for medium rare? Can't seem to get my burger to my like (except for I&O) anywhere else.

                                                      1. re: Servorg

                                                        Hmmmm, I live in a relatively small city (220,000) and there are 4 local independent burger joints that make a much better burger than 5G's or INO and you can get medium-rare at these places. When I lived in Los Angeles there were many more options for better burgers and they would cook to order, has something changed?

                                                        15 years ago there was a local coffee shop in the inland empire (the owner retired and sold it) that had the best burger I have ever had. He had a custom blend of fresh meat (chuck and sirloin), toasted his fresh custom made buns, he had tomatoes that always tasted home grown and he had real cheese if you wanted it. Now my mouth is watering for a burger like that but it's pretty hard for me to get excited about INO or 5G's when there are so many better choices.

                                                        1. re: RetiredChef

                                                          Not for $3 you can't...and seeing as how we are on the Chains board I'm asking you if you know of another chain that offers burgers medium rare? Know one? Please share.

                                                          1. re: Servorg

                                                            Chains like Cheesecake Factory and Houstons do medium rare, but those aren't really fast food chains. Shake Shack does medium rare, but they're a fairly small chain. Pretty sure Counter Burger also does medium rare but, again, smaller "fast casual" chain. Don't think I'd be willing to risk anything less than well done at a cheap-o fastfood chain. My violent explosive diarrhea days are well "behind" me, thankfully.

                                                            1. re: Servorg

                                                              Red Robin cooks burgers to order.

                                                              1. re: Vidute

                                                                Looking for any (other than In & Out) "fast food" drive through type places that cook to order.

                                                            2. re: RetiredChef

                                                              >> When I lived in Los Angeles there were many more options for better burgers and they would cook to order, has something changed?

                                                              Well, what has changed is that the FancyBurger™ has gotten a strong toehold with their unusual or exotic umami-laden toppings and condiments. Some of them are extremely good. Some are not. All are pricey- anywhere from $10-25 depending where you go for yours.

                                                              In the arena of the humble and inexpensive fast food burger, Five Guys is the biggest shakeup we've experienced in years.

                                                              Mr Taster

                                                              N.B. Pretty soon The Apple Pan's outrageously expensive coffee shop burger is going to hit the FancyBurger™ price zone, crossing all manner of unnatural boundaries in the process.

                                                          2. re: RetiredChef

                                                            'That' the power that advertising has on us, it changes our biases.>

                                                            My liking for animal style hamburgers at In-n-Out has nothing to do with advertising....trust me on that one.
                                                            I'm not alone.

                                                        2. re: Mr Taster

                                                          Oh you just had to post photos, now my mouth is watering and I'm craving a double-double. But the closest In-N-Out is a good 4 hours away.


                                                  2. Okay, let's get a few things straight here.

                                                    First and foremost, no one is right when they say that the two are east and west coast versions of each other. Nor are they right in saying they have nothing in common. Both are doing a "Classic American" style burger. Otherwise known as a "California" or "Diner" style burger. Wonderbread style bun and a flat top hamburger. They vary after that.

                                                    Secondly after reading literally dozens of replies on dozens of threads it appears that, for the most part anyway, if you grew up with InO you'll like them better. The opposite is of course true.

                                                    Based on my own findings and those of countless others, 5G varies wildly in quality from store to store. Inconsistency is the only constant with them. As is a higher price tag.

                                                    As for my own opinion and probably falling squarely in the second category above, I've always loved the 5G on University Ave, in Huntsville, Al. The other location is only okay. As is the case with the two different ones I've tried here at home (TO).
                                                    I had the opportunity to try InO this fall and was exceedingly underwhelmed. Not that it was bad. It wasn't. It's just that it was incredibly average. After all the hype I felt as though I was missing something. I do look forward to giving them another shot. Different city and store may bring different results.

                                                    Just my 2¢


                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: Davwud

                                                      I think some of the comparisons between the two come from the styling. They both use similar colors in their logo and in their store designs. If 5Gs arrived in L.A. with a blue or purple motif, I'm not sure the comparisons would be so often made. But they both the same "red" and subliminally they feel the same.

                                                      1. re: PaulF

                                                        5 Guys clearly ripped off the color scheme from In N Out, No accident there. Their stores are unappealing, and downright tacky, Several have mentioned dirty tables, and of course the peanut shells all over hell's half acre. Red Robin is a better experience and I can get a beer.

                                                    2. Okay, I finally did my Five Guys vs. In-N-Out comparison.

                                                      First of all, to those who state that the two are nothing alike and therefore not a fair comparison, are you serious? Remember in 1st grade those tests that said, "a cat is like a lion like... A.) a dog is like a coyote, B.) a tree is like a pancake, or C.) a bicycle is like a blow dryer"? You were kept back a year.

                                                      - Same line up & order/sit & dine service
                                                      - Same type of burger (though granted, FG offers more toppings)
                                                      - Same fast food-using-high-quality-ingredients strategy even down to the fresh, unpeeled potatoes for fries
                                                      - Same price category
                                                      - Even the same color scheme

                                                      So. I visited Five Guys and had their regular sized (double) cheeseburger with raw onions, lettuce, tomato, mayo and pickles. I figured this is the fairest and most direct comparison to an INO Double-Double.

                                                      It's a good burger. It's surely bigger and more filling than a Double-Double, and also costs more, but I didn't feel ripped off.

                                                      Perhaps because I didn't order mushrooms and ate it immediately, the bun didn't have time to steam inside the foil wrapper and suffer the catastrophic disintegration that others have complained about. It is, however, a "messier" burger, but nothing like the sloppy mess some have described. (I for one hate getting messy when eating. My mother served Sloppy Joe's at my eighth birthday party and I cried.)

                                                      The bun is a bit sweet, more "bready" or roll-like than INO's and with sesame seeds. It's more crumbly but not in a bad way. It's served cold though, and I like that INO puts theirs on the flat top.

                                                      The patties are definitely meatier, and they are well done as INO does them. My only real criticism is that the cheese - American slice the way it should be on a cheeseburger - tasted and looked very processed, and was not melted, and was relatively skimpy given the ratio to other ingredients. They apparently apply it to the burger when they assemble it, rather than while cooking. That I didn't like. (Part of the joy of an INO Double Double is that the cheese melts into the wrapper and you have to peel it off and eat it.)

                                                      Definitely fresh, high quality ingredients. The lettuce, tomatoes and pickles remain crisper than an INO's since somehow INO's toppings get a bit heated.

                                                      Which brings me to the meat of the comparison: FG's is a nice burger, well assembled. INO's is a unique, singular amalgam of tastes - one taste really - all which make a Double Double a Double Double. Put another way, a lot of of places can and do make a FG's burger, while nobody but INO does - or can - make an INO burger.

                                                      I asked the counter person, "May I just try one fry?" and she kindly brought me a cup full for free. They are good. They are very similar to INO in the sense that they are hand cut, unpeeled and very "potatoey," but they use a seasoning salt similar to Lawry's. They taste higher end and more "restaurant-like" than INO's.

                                                      I should point out that I'm not a fry guy, and rarely order fries, and am not a fan of the unpeeled fry in general, especially INO's which are flabby even when well cooked. FG's are superior.


                                                      FG's double cheese vs. INO Double-Double? Double Double absolutely any day of the week. There is just something about how a DD all comes together that blows the doors off of FG's. Far more flavor, texture and that special something that makes INO unique. Is it a "better" burger? Yes, because it is a far better eating experience. Period.

                                                      Fries?: FG's hand's down, but by no means would I, personally, go there just because the fries are superior. I'm just not a fry guy.

                                                      Now. Back to the East Coast-West Coast thing. East Coasters are going to find FG's a better burger, a better deal, more of a meal, and they'll wonder why Californians swoon over the Double Double. That's because they're not Californians who have been raised on the DD.

                                                      Californians are going to find FG a well-executed rip off of INO but lacking "wow." Don't get me wrong: it's good, but in LA, the Land of the Burger, it just doesn't make waves.

                                                      One final point: at the FG's Westwood location, the cook staff were constantly yelling orders and spirited admonitions to each other: "big line at the door!" "order up!" "next order people!' this sort of thing, and just generally hollering. The average Marine drill squad is softer spoken. I found it strange. The man hollered - literally screamed - my order number when it came up, though I was less than two feet in front of him. He must go home hoarse.

                                                      6 Replies
                                                      1. re: EarlyBird

                                                        I think your analysis is spot on, and not just because I happen to agree with your conclusions. There's so much hate and vitriol gong back and forth on the various threads on FG vs INO, and I just don't get how anyone can say either "sucks."

                                                        I'm originally from SoCal and really missed INO when we moved up here to Seattle. FG arrived recently and we were glad to have some really good burgers to get up here. We like them a lot but they're not INO. We just spent a week of spring break down in SoCal and my 15-year-old and I each had an INO 4x4 nearly every day and were blissfully comatose. To us, INO is a ten and FG is a nine -- neither are slouches and we're happy with either. The fine points that distinguish them (toppings, bun quality) are minor. Both are leagues better than typical fast food chain burgers.

                                                        I went to UCLA and grew up in West LA. If you're into great burgers, try a tiny stand called Marty's on Pico between Overland and Beverly Glen (actual cross-street Prosser). It may just be fond memories, but I recall them as the best burgers I've ever had. Used to go every Saturday as a kid in the 70s.

                                                        1. re: acgold7

                                                          Ooh. I'm gonna have to try Marty's. Thanks for the recommendation.

                                                          1. re: EarlyBird

                                                            I've worked and lived on the westside for my whole life. I've driven by Marty's 50,000 times. For some reason, I've never stopped in.

                                                            Next week, I'm going.

                                                        2. re: EarlyBird

                                                          I've found the "steaming" issue more of a problem with the fries than the burger. The big 5G complaint with "soggy" fries can be traced to the carryout orders keeping the paper bag sealed tight. Steam builds up, soggy fries. Get them out the bag ASAP and you won't have this problem.

                                                          The primary critique, as noted above, is 5G's consistency. One will be fine, the one down the street will be horrible.

                                                          1. re: EarlyBird

                                                            Great comparison, and probably spot on for descriptions. Anyone in this thread who completely disregards either restaurant, should be ignored.

                                                            1. re: EarlyBird

                                                              Agree with much of your assessment but that I would take the FG burger over INO (I grew up in So Cal, too), and the location I frequent (Encinitas) is a friendlier place than Westwood sounds to be.

                                                              Attached an actual pic for those who are interested. If it appears drippy, the man ordered hot sauce with his.

                                                            2. I live in New York, but I visit California every summer. I actually ended up having In-N-Out first, which I gotta say was the best burger I have ever eaten! They did not use frozen fries, you could literally see them peeling the potatoes. I ended up eating from there a couple of times which was phenomenal. I recently tried Five Guys as everyone compares it to In-N-Out and I gotta say, the bag was dripping with grease. Had to wash my hands about 15 times, the potatoes had a burnt taste, and also still had their skin on them. The foil just made the burgers a mess. Overall I gotta say IN-N-OUT due to the clean and fresh looking burgers.

                                                              23 Replies
                                                              1. re: 585ray

                                                                <The foil just made the burgers a mess.>

                                                                Cannot figure out why they haven't stopped the steaming of those burgers in that foil.
                                                                Once was enough for me.

                                                                1. re: latindancer

                                                                  I'm inclined to think it has to do with the amount of toppings they offer. I imagine a fully loaded 5G burger (LTM, bacon, pickles, cheese, onions, peppers, etc) would be unwieldy with it wrapped one side open. Same situation with the fries: even if you keep the bag open to keep them from steaming up, the ones in the bottom of the cup are a soggy mess. Shake Shack has managed to avoid both these problems with (a) In-N-Out style wrapped burgers and (b) twice fried crinkle cut fries in an open container.

                                                                  1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                    With regards to the fries....it should be noted that INO & 5Gs use fresh potatoes and SS uses frozen....the latter's decision was made to combat soggy fries and a more consistent product..

                                                                    1. re: fourunder

                                                                      Which is why I prefer SS's fries to 5Gs. I don't see the point in touting how fresh cut your fries are if you fry them poorly so you end up with a soggy mess. There's an upscale eatery near where I work that makes a big to-do about how their fries are fresh cut. Every time I've been there, they've given me soggy, greasy, inedible strands of potato with the skin on the end to know how fresh the potato was before it died a horrible, slow, under-temperature death. Meanwhile, the chinese carryout up the road serves frozen crinkle cut fries that are fried perfectly. Hot, crispy, not greasy.

                                                                      The thing that's odd about 5G's burger wrapping making it soggier is that other fastfood burger places use a similiar technique, but I don't recall them being particularly soggy. Maybe because McD's uses frozen patties instead of fresh? But Wendy's uses fresh beef and I don't think I'd call their burgers soggy.

                                                                      1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                        Herein lies the french fry dilema. Frozen fries, 9 times out of 10 will be more esthetically pleasing. However, I've had nothing but great fries from 5 Guys. Get 'em out of the bag ASAP and you shouldn't have much in the way of problems. If a particular store is consistently soggy even with quick extrication then ask for well done.


                                                                        1. re: Davwud

                                                                          I've had about a 30% success rate with their fries. I have about a dozen 5Gs near me and have narrowed it down to 2 that deliver a consistent product. The rest are all over the map: soggy fries, stale fries, skunky meat, slow service, etc. It comes down to the managers at those two stores doing their jobs. I've seen them throw whole batches of fries out that weren't fried right or have been under the heat lamps too long.

                                                                          1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                            Ya. 5 Guys is known for wild inconsistency. If you get a good one, it's great. If not, not so much.

                                                                            I can't wait to try InO again. Found it slightly above average. Nothing more.


                                                                            1. re: Davwud

                                                                              In all fairness, In-N-Out burgers are not magic, and there are way better burgers if we are talking about restaurant burgers...etc. However, for fast food/inexpensive burgers, In-N-Out burgers are great.

                                                                          2. re: Davwud

                                                                            The Burger Joint has the best fries and they use fresh potatoes. The fries are hot, crisp and golden on the outside and fluffy on the inside. The burgers and fries are served on a paper-covered pizza a tray. There is not a single grease-spot from the fries. The burgers are also very good and cooked to order and their "green fries", grilled asparagus, are delicious. The burgers are a bit pricey, the fries and asapargus are steals.

                                                                          3. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                            thank you for that potato description - I laughed out loud (so much that I had to give in and spell it out, LOL)!
                                                                            as for the earlier post from seattle - seriously? Have you not been to Dick's Drive In? Hop to it man! Or down in Tacoma to Frisko Freeze? I'm just a tourist but that is some tasty goodness you have up there.
                                                                            In N Out all the way, my first and only 5 guys experience when visiting jersey was mediocre at best. I'll drive through for consistency over hit & miss any day.

                                                                    2. re: 585ray

                                                                      Agree. I tried both In-N-Out and Five Guys -- numerous times. In-N-Out probably about 10 times, and Five Guys about 3 times. I definitely won't rank them on the same level. In-N-Out is much better in my opinion.

                                                                      As mentioned in my other reply, given between Five Guys and McDonald, I am sorry to say that I personally would probably rather eat at McDonald. That is how much I dislike Five Guys. Both the burgers and fries are greasy messes.

                                                                      I do give them credit for making large full size burger, but not the taste. I have a strong feeling that people who like Five Guys are college students who are on a very limited budget. In that case, yes, it is good.

                                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                        5 Guys for a limited budget?? Are you crazy??


                                                                        1. re: Davwud

                                                                          Five Guys is more expensive than INO, but they definitely give more food for that money. I'm always tempted to get two Double Doubles when I go there, not only because I love them so much, but they are a bit on the smallish side.

                                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                              Hah! That's what I tell myself whenever I eat a Double Double!

                                                                            2. re: EarlyBird

                                                                              Forgetting about the fact i do not like the burger itself at 5Gs, as a consumer, I resent the fact they build in all the costs of the toppings into the price of a burger, whether you want them or not. The two two toppings I will often choose, cheese and bacon, you do pay for additionally on top of the included toppings.

                                                                              1. re: EarlyBird

                                                                                I hear you on being tempted to get 2 burgers at In-N-Out. Their burgers are so good but also because I refuse to eat their fries as I hate them. But I'm not a huge fan of fries in general. Now if only the closest In-N-Out wasn't 4 hours away.

                                                                                1. re: rasputina

                                                                                  You know. When I was first introduced to In-N-Out, I really couldn't care much for its French fries. I liked its burgers on day one, but dislike the fries. They just tasted strange to me. On the other hand, I always like to give things a second or third trials. As time went on, the In-N-Out fries grew on me and I really liked them after about the third trial.

                                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                    I'm not a huge fan of their fries as a standard order. A bit under cooked for my taste. Ordering them Light Well helps.

                                                                                    1. re: mike0989

                                                                                      <A bit under cooked for my taste>

                                                                                      You were talking about In-N-Out, right? Yeah, that is how I felt too the first time I tried. It later grew on me.

                                                                                      <Ordering them Light Well >

                                                                                      You can do that?

                                                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                        Yep, Light well they put them back in the fryer for a bit. Ordering Well takes them a bit too far for me. Standard order ofr me

                                                                                        Double Double, Animal Style
                                                                                        Fries - Liight Well
                                                                                        Rootbeer Float

                                                                                2. re: EarlyBird

                                                                                  oh, no - just get the 3 x 3!! 3 patties, 3 cheese, good to go, very satisfying. (even better if you add their pickles) Or maybe in your case a 4 x 4? I could never manage that myself...

                                                                                3. re: Davwud

                                                                                  Ha ha ha. Point taken. Yes, 5 Guys burgers are not that cheap.

                                                                            3. Please take a moment to enlighten the uninformed here. Five Guys is soon to be opening in this area, and my roommate insists it's a full service restaurant. From what I've picked up on CH, I told him it was a burger joint.

                                                                              Who's right?

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: KSlink

                                                                                  Yo walk up to a counter, order and pay and wait at another counter for them to scream - and I mean SCREAM! - that your order is ready for pick up. Not a full service restaurant.

                                                                                2. This should be Shack Shack . Shack Shack is the East Coast answer to In-n-Out.....not Five Guys. They even replaced Five Guys in Nationals Park with a Shack Shack.

                                                                                  1. I'm a long-time fan of I & O, but just tried the 5 Guys that opened here in NW Las Vegas. Had one of their small burgers. Pricy for what you get, and very meh, IMO. Juicy, but flavorless patty, kind of slimy grilled onions, disintegrating bun. I left half of it on the table and walked out. No need to return.

                                                                                    1. I finally tried Five Guys, in Eugene, Oregon. I had the double-patty cheeseburger. It's a fine burger, but the comparison with In-n-Out is meaningless, in my opinion. These burgers are not in the same category and so are not direct competitors. The FG has significantly more meat thanthe In-n-Out Double-Double, and costs twice as much. For that price it should be better. And FG is not drive-through.

                                                                                      The meaningful comparisons, in my opinion, are:

                                                                                      In-n-Out Double-Double vs. McDonald's Double Cheeseburger. These are similar size and configuration, and both available at a drive-through. There is no contest in my opinion.

                                                                                      Oh, and I can do without the much-touted FG fries. Think I'll skip them next time.
                                                                                      Five Guys Double Cheeseburger vs. Carl's Jr. Big Carl. Again, similar burgers. I haven't had the CJ, so have no opinion as yet.

                                                                                      1. We have both out in TO. FG is an order at the counter and wait for it to be called restaurant like INO. It does not have a drive through. There are bags of complementary peanuts to munch on while you wait for your order. So be forewarned if you have an allergy. FG has a smorgasbord of options you can add to your basic burger, most of which are free. Now how do they compare.

                                                                                        FG has a bigger patty, but it seems to be missing something. The flavor just isn’t there for me. One of the options to add is bacon. That is always a plus for me.

                                                                                        FG fries are cut thicker than INO and cooked a bit crispier. They also use a better potato. Depending on the time of year, you are probably eating a Burbank russet instead of the more common Norkotah. They can be a bit of a grease bomb though.

                                                                                        As to value, FG is bit over twice as much. I can go in there and easily drop $12 - $15 on a burger, fries and drink. That will feed both my wife and I easily at INO.

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: mike0989

                                                                                          Agree with everything here. Maybe it's regional, but the FGs in our area always seem sort of bland - like the patty tastes sort of watery - not beef like?

                                                                                          We spent $20 something there (two adults, one toddler) this week, and I know that would have been better spent at INO.

                                                                                        2. I have not read any other posts here. In my view, there is a significant differences between the two. I love In-N-Out, but I dislike Five Guys. I really mean I dislike Five Guys. I mean I can eat their burgers if necessary, but between McDonald and Five Guys, I will probably walk to the McDonald.

                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                            What is the "significant difference" in your opinion?

                                                                                            To me the difference between the lies less in the quality of the burgers, but more in their business model.

                                                                                            In N Out is basically burger, cheeseburger, and fries (shakes and drinks notwithstanding).

                                                                                            Five Guys is burger, cheeseburger, bacon cheeseburger, and x2 with smaller sizes of each, plus hot dogs, veggie sandwiches and grilled cheese, and then they give you all those toppings to choose from.

                                                                                            One concentrates basically on one central item -- burger -- the other sort does a multitude of things.

                                                                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                              <What is the "significant difference" in your opinion?>

                                                                                              Taste, style, and philosophy.

                                                                                              <To me the difference between the lies less in the quality of the burgers>

                                                                                              Evidently, our opinions are different. As mentioned, I rank In-N-Out burgers noticeably better than McDonald burgers, but I prefer McDonald over Five Guys. Five Guys burgers have always been a greasy mess, with oil dipping out of the brown bag. Even if my tongue can ignore the taste difference, my GI tract cannot. Five Guys burgers never sat right in my stomach, and I often felt uncomfortable a few hours after eating one.

                                                                                              So, to me, the difference is more than their business models -- so say my tongue and my digestive system.

                                                                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                I'd like In-N-Out more if they offered mayo instead of that thousand island dressing spread. I don't care if they've been using it since 1948... give me mayo!

                                                                                          2. I live in Connecticut but have traveled to LA on many occasions. Having been to both; In-N-Out is my pick. Five Guys is expensive ($17) for 2 burgers and 1 small fries and 1 small drink. I love In-N-Out; something about sitting outside under a Palm tree at an In-N-Out isw the best...

                                                                                            1. I tried Five Guys for the first and last time the other night. Got an order of four burgers and two large orders of fries to go (one with the Cajun seasoning). The burger was unimpressive to me, the bun does have disintegration issues, but the fries were much more to my liking v. In-N-Out's flaccid version. But the deal-breaker for me was the smell in my car. I made the order to go, did the five-minute drive home, and fed the family. I had to move my car later, and noticed the greasy-fastfood smell had entrenched itself into my car's interior. The odor had some strange meaty off-smell as well. I left the windows open for an hour, only to find the smell had not dissipated. This smell continued to linger in my car after repeated attempts to drive it out by cruising on the freeway with my windows open. It's been five full days now and I can still smell remnants of the odor. I'm going to try fabric freshener, and if that doesn't do it, it's going in for an upholstery scrubbing. I've never experienced this kind of harsh odor with such a lengthy half-life before. What's the deal?

                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                                5G fries are notoriously greasy. The grease probably saturated the bag and soaked into the upholstry. The fact that they seal their carryout bags adds to the moisture buildup. As for the "meaty, off-smell," There are numerous threads discussing issues of "skunky" meat at 5G. I live not too far from the original Five Guys in Fairfax, VA. There are 4 shops within a 15 minute drive, only one of which serves consistently decent burgers/fries. The other three are so woefully inconsistent, I've pretty much given up on them.

                                                                                                1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                  The bags were fortunately on a weather-resistant floormat. But the smell saturated my car. Thanks for
                                                                                                  the info - fortifies my resolve to never go back.

                                                                                                  1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                                    This sounds like a "Seinfeld" episode where the valet with B.O. wrecks Jerry's car.

                                                                                                    1. re: EarlyBird

                                                                                                      Strictly a guess on my part, but I'm thinking it's possibly the still hot oil vapors wafted into the air then stuck to the car's cool inner surfaces of the car. The surfaces are the windows, dash and door surfaces. Perhaps a bit of windex and paper towels might lessen the smell. Years ago I knew a heavy smoker and the oils from the cigarettes left a brownish haze and smell inside his car. Good luck and thanks for the warning. I rarely eat burgers so I haven't had the inclination to try Five Guys (yet).

                                                                                                      1. re: EarlyBird

                                                                                                        My 13-year old son is a big fan of Seinfeld via reruns. He mentioned to me. I thought it was funny at first, thwn started to fear the same fate for my car as Jerry's. :-(