1400 I St. NW
HOURS: Daily 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
COST: Most entrées less than $10
Five Guys is ubiquitous now, in 40 states and in Canada, but it started as a burger shack in a strip mall in Arlington, Virginia, a family business that built its success on a mix of fresh ground sirloin and chuck, locally made buns, Idaho potatoes, and free peanuts.
The menu is simple—burgers, hot dogs, and fries cooked in peanut oil—but exacting, with 13 topping choices, cooking methods that dictate a burger can only be pressed once per side on the grill, and a requirement to use only Mount Holly brand pickles.
The atmosphere is pretty much the same in every Five Guys, with a walk-up counter, oak tables, trademark white tile with red trim on the walls, and vintage ’70s and ’80s music playing on the sound system. The original locations, though, have something most of the newer places don’t—a grubby charm that makes it OK to drop your peanut shells on the floor.
Washingtonians are amused by the natural rivalry that has popped up between East Coast and West Coast fans of In-N-Out Burger and Five Guys, chains that both favor hand-pressed, never frozen patties; the burger winner is a matter of preference, but In-N-Out french fries are no match for the fried-in-peanut-oil fries at Five Guys.