With Five Guys Burgers and Fries open in Beaverton and West Linn, OR, it is time to compare the two good tasting fast food burgers. First, my 12 year old daughter's opinion, "Dad, there is no comparison, In-N-Out is way better."
My opinion is more nuanced. Both have good testing, fresh, never frozen Hamburger. The Five Guys patty is a little more satisfying probably because it is a little larger. The In-N-Out Bun is better toasted and better matched to the size of the rest of the burger. The Five Guys Bun is just too large compared to the patty and even though it is toasted, it isn't toasted enough. Even with a double, it seems like a lot of bun for the meat.
The Five Guys burger is also too large overall. At In-N-Out a single is great if you aren't very hungry and a double is a large meal. At Five Guys, a "small cheeseburger" is a large meal. A double or normal "cheeseburger" in Five Guys language is too big under almost any circumstances. Their fries are similarly over sized, but since a family of 5 can share the large fries or a family of 3 can share the "small" fries, the size is less relevant.
Five Guys has a better selection of toppings, including green peppers and mushrooms which aren't available at In-N-Out.
Both In-N-Out and Five Guys have fresh cut and fried potatoes, not frozen. At In-N-Out you can see them cutting up the fries in the Window, at Five Guys they have bags of fries in the store. In-N-Out cuts there fries to a very kid friendly McDonalds style fry. They taste like McDonald's fries did in the sixties when they used to be fresh cut in the store. Five Guys has beefier style of fries with a bit of skin on the ends. They are fresh and very good. Five Guys also offers a Cajun style fry which has some spice seasoning added to the fry. I like the regular fry better, but it is nice to have a spicier option. In-N-Out wins for Kids Fries, but the Five Guys fry is a bit better for an adult.
For Milk Shakes, In-N-Out wins by default. Five Guys has no milkshakes. In-N-Out Shakes are a real plus since they are very creamy and the chocolate shake has a very good chocolate flavor.
Five Guys has Hot Dogs, which I haven't tried, but it gives you another option. Five Guys also has free peanuts while you wait.
In-N-Out always has a drive through. The Oregon Five Guys do not have drive throughs. The drive through is very convenient picking up dinner for the family. Five Guys is always crowded with a line and ussually a little jostling for a seat. We have always found a seat, but is more hectic than picking up food for the family and bringing it home.
Both In-N-Out and Five Guys are somewhat premium priced compared to Burger King or McDonalds (and well worth it) but Five Guys is a little more premium priced. I am ussually surprised how much it costs to feed my family of five. I think In-N-Out is a bit better deal.
Final verdict? If there was an In-N-Out in Beaverton, Lake Oswego, or Tualatin, they would get quite a bit more of our burger business than Five Guys. But Five Guys is a really great addition to the Oregon burger scene and they will get most of our business until In-N-Out comes to Oregon.
When will In-N-Out come to Oregon? Now is a great time. They could get great leases and land deals for the 5 or 10 locations they would need to make their logistics and distribution work. In-N-Out is not franchised it is corporate owned, so I have to believe cash is available for a slam dunk expansion like the Portland area. They must have noticed that the Five Guys in Beaverton jumped to the top of the sales charts for all Five Guys location. They also must know that taste will tip toward Five Guys as familiarity breeds preference.
What about Burgerville? Burgerville is a fresh, local food concept location with frozen beef! It seems a bit crazy. The Burgerville patty is bland tasting and just doesn't keep with the rest of the quality ingrediants the have. Burgerville needs to make "Fresh, Never Frozen" a mantra for the Beef and the fries and push the local food conept they have going. If they did that, they could compete with Five Guys and even In-N-Out on the basis of drive throughs, milkshakes, hometown business, and a wider menu. With bland, frozen hamburgers they are toast when In-N-Out comes to the Portland, Oregon area.