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13 September 2013

The Burger Bulletin: Five Guys Covent Garden

All of the research I did for my top NYC burgers post clearly made me hungry. It also made me realise that I still hadn't been to a Five Guys, either here or on the other side of the pond. In the US, it always felt like I had a better option (usually Shake Shack for a good burger on the go), and Londoners are also spoilt for choice these days. After a bit of shopping in Soho last night, I walked past Five Guys and saw that the queue wasn't too bad, so I decided to check it out.


The first UK branch, on Covent Garden's Long Acre Street, was bigger than I was expecting. There is a relatively large space near the counter for ordering, and then you can go out to the back to stake out a table once you've picked up your food. It's not dissimilar to a McDonald's, and yet so much nicer. There are comfy booth seats and stools for perching and people-watching.



It's a slick operation and within ten minutes of joining the queue, I was clutching my brown bag of burgery goodness. I ordered a cheeseburger with mayo and some "little fries." Had I realised that a regular cheeseburger included two burger patties and that the "little" fries portion would easily serve two people, I probably wouldn't have bothered with the fries. Next time, I'll order the "little cheeseburger," which contains a mere single patty.


Over-ordering aside, I was pretty impressed with the food. I wasn't allowed to order a medium-rare burger, and although it was definitely more well done than I prefer, it was still juicy and meaty. I also like the way that you get to opt into toppings, rather than having to opt out. I asked for mayo and lettuce, but you can get various other sauces and vegetables thrown in for free.


The skin-on fries were good too, although very salty, making me wish I'd ordered a drink. The other advantage to ordering a soft drink is that you get to choose from about a gajillion (well, 127) flavours of Coke, Sprite and Fanta from the magical Freestyle machine. I don't normally like fizzy drinks, but a raspberry Sprite sounds great.

Choose your own Coke adventure.

Maybe it was because I went to Shake Shack on a glorious sunny evening, making the most of sitting outdoors in the bustle of the Covent Garden Piazza, but the Shake Shack experience was more fun than my trip to Five Guys. Also, I really like the Shack Sauce on the Shack Burger. The prices between the two restaurants are pretty similar: £8 for a double regular cheeseburger at Five Guys, compared to £7.50 for a double Shack Burger. I think Shake Shack is the better deal, but if you're in need of a good-quality burger — fast — in the Leicester Square area, give Five Guys a try. Their next branch is supposed to be in Islington — hopefully closer to the King's Cross side!



Five Guys. 1–3 Long Acre Street, London, WC2E 9LH (Tube: Leicester Square). Website. Twitter.

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