Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Becoming Five Potbellied Guys

Southern California has In-N-Out, but the D.C. Area has Five Guys.

Northern California has
Wichcraft, but the D.C. Area has Potbelly Sandwich Works.

California has Passionate Eater, but the D.C. Area has. . . Well. . . You get my drift. I was trying to analogize, but my brain is farting right now, so I have nothing for you.

When I visited the beau's family in D.C., the beau's brother ("BB" to abbreviate) took me out to two heavily frequented D.C. eateries, to give me a "real" taste of D.C.

First, BB took me to every D.C. native's favorite burger joint,
Five Guys. Both he and the beau warned me, that I might fall for Five Guys and forget about my one, true love, In-N-Out.

Although I was hungry, I wasn't "that" hungry, so I ordered a "little cheeseburger" (instead of the regular double cheeseburger) from the menu. Don't let the name fool you, the burger is still big enough for a hearty lunch. And I am not a small eater.

Five Guys
gives every diner their choice of a variety of free toppings for each burger, including raw or fried onions, lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms, jalapeno or green peppers, and the regular condiments (ketchup, relish, mayonnaise, mustard) and a few odd ones, including relish, A-1, barbecue sauce, and hot sauce. I basically asked for "everything" on my burger. They also have complimentary peanuts you can munch on as you wait for your order.

My burger came wrapped in foil, with its bread bun squished, wrinkly, and slightly perspiring, and thus exhibiting a bit of a brioche sheen. I was impressed by the looks, to say the least. The taste? Greasy, meaty, and burger-licious.

I also ordered the Five Guys style fries, which were coated in a generous dusting of Old Bay. The fries came in an overflowing styrofoam cup, which itself was inside a paper bag. I don't even know why they put a styrofoam cup inside the bag, because they essentially gave me a huge paper bag stuffed full of fries. If I poured the mountain of fries out onto the table and tried to re-cram them inside the cup, I would be direly unsuccessful. The styrofoam cup is basically there just for kicks.

As for the comparison between
Five Guys and In-N-Out? Well, sorry. There is no comparison. Even with all of the free toppings (which actually amounts to very little when all placed on a burger's limited surface area) and the juicy, greasy, and "goes down easy" feel of the Five Guys Zagat rated burger, my heart belongs to the one and only In-N-Out. The burger at Five Guys is just a good burger. A burger at In-N-Out is a marvelously splendid and radiant burger that makes you see rainbows and unicorns. However, I will likely rot as a tormented soul in hell for saying this, but the spicy and flavorful fries at Five Guys are infinitely better than In-N-Out's weird, bleached out styrofoam tasting fries. Yes, I am now guilty of blasphemy/heresy/treason/sabotage/slander, but at least I got that off my chest.

For our second D.C. dining destination, BB took me to
Potbelly, where I split a tuna and "A Wreck" sandwich, and sampled Potbelly's homemade strawberry and Oreo shakes. "A Wreck" is a great name for a sandwich, which is basically made of salami, roast beef, turkey, ham and swiss. Simply put, it is made of everything. I ordered mine on wheat and asked for hot peppers, lettuce, onions, tomatoes, pickles, and a little Italian seasoning.

The toasted sandwiches were quite good, albeit small. The sandwiches were better than
Subway and Quizno's, and there was great atmosphere goin' on in the eatery. The restaurant is decorated like a jazzed up antique store, and you can actually listen to live music on certain days. And the creamy brain freeze-inducing shakes? Definitely a worthy competitor of In-N-Out. (Sorry, I now have In-N-Out on my brain.)

Thanks BB, for taking me out, and for all you others out there visiting or living in the D.C. Area, check out
Five Guys and Potbelly Sandwich Works for some great inauguration-day food!


  1. I ate an absurd amount of Potbelly's tuna salad sandwiches when I was going to school in the Chicago area. I still miss it -- so much better than any of the sandwich shops out in LA! (with the exception of Bay Cities, of course)

  2. I couldn't help but agree than I think In n Out is way better than Five Guys too.

    And SF has Toaster Oven, which is strikingly similar to Potbelly in every way imaginable. I think it might be a spin-off.

  3. They have Potbelly in Chicago and the Wreck is my favorite sandwich too! Man, it's so good. With extra peppers too, of course.

  4. If I lived near a Potbelly's, I think I would eat an absurd amount of tuna salad sandwiches from them too, Diana!

    I have to try Toaster Oven Diane, thank you for the recommendation!

    I love spicy foods too Wandering Chopsticks, even on sandwiches!

  5. Those sandwiches look great.....burger looks a bit sogged out though...I'd better watch it, I may have five guys chasing after me.

  6. It was a little bit on the soggy side Kirk K, but strangely, I believe that is where all the appeal comes from (it is soggy from being freshly made and therefore, emits a lot of steam and other nice smells).

  7. PE, I'm with you on the squished, wrinkled bun that has been steaming inside of a wrapper. I'd much prefer that to a dry ciabatta roll which is tough enough so that everything squeezes out when you try to bite through it. The burgers looks fantastic, although those sandwiches almost look like they should be submitted to campaign for a sensible sandwich

  8. I'm a fan of Potbelly's - we have one down the street where I live in Ohio and also had them at home in Chicago and at school in Indiana. I thought it was a Midwest thing? Must be expanding to the East Coast. The Wreck is my fave, and I usually get the same toppings as you, minus the onions!

    And we getting a few Five Guys in town in the next year or so and I've been looking forward to trying them!

  9. What poetic language Foodhoe, yes, the burger elements must stay intact, so that you get an appropriate taste in each bite! And thanks for the link to that campaign, I think that looks like one political cause I agree with!

    Wow, it seems that for my next Potbelly and Five Guys fix, I'll have to come visit you Charise!

  10. It all looks good. But I don't know what you are talking about. No such thing here. Darn.
    I do have a Mom N Pop fish and Chip shop fairly close. That's about as fast food as it gets around here.
    I would love to have a good cheeseburger. I miss proper dill pickles too.

  11. Fast food is definitely king here in America, Melinda! I hope you get a delicious cheeseburger soon. But you are quite lucky, as we all know that Britain is Queen of the fish and chips! God Save the Queen! :)

  12. OMG. Potbellys is only my favorite sandwich place ever!! The Wreck is one of the items in my last meal on earth. And their oatmeal chocolate chip cookie is to die for.

  13. Oh, is that Five Guys hamburger joint the chain started by ex-Top Chef contestant Spike? I heard he started an eatery in the DC area. Looks interesting. The other spot looks fun too. I like a fast food type of place with a nice ambiance too.

  14. You have great taste Generika, I also tried their oatmeal chocolate chip cookie (not pictured in the post), and it was pretty darn good. But what about where our loyalties lie? (Meaning, Diddy Riese.)

    I think that Five Guys is an older D.C. institution Chef Ben, so it is probably not that place. I just Googled "Spike Top Chef Hamburgers" and found that his place is called Good Stuff Eatery.

  15. Really, not that *looks* matter foremost, but when you see a newly served IN N' OUT and compare with NEWLY served FIVE GUYS....really
    who's prettier?

    But what's important is what's *inside* right?

    Hands down, PE and I are probably planning on becoming stockholders once IN N' OUT become public. LOL!

    There are no IN/OUT on east coast and someone told me 5Guys was better ( ( s i g h ) )

  16. ugh.. not a fan at all.. they finally touch downed in LA last summer and... it's just on par with In N Out..

  17. Five Guys is good, but there is no way that it is better Taste Memory! And I love the idea of becoming In-N-Out investors!

    I think they might be a little below par, but I do think they are pretty good Tony C, I have an unreasonable hamburger bias!

  18. Just now catching up PE, but how do you compare PotBelly's sandwiches to a poboy down here?

  19. Of course Potbelly's is no comparison TTMC!


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