I don’t like to review chains. I would rather focus my energies highlighting some great locally inspired flavors around the Fox Valley, but occasionally a chain just gets it right.
Once upon a time I lived in Washington D.C., and it was while living out there that I was first introduced to the delicious burger joint that serves you a sack of food in a grease stained bag. After moving back to Wisconsin all I could do is dream about that place until one glorious day I discovered Five Guys was coming to the Fox Valley!
Now, why am I so excited about a chain restaurant? Because they do everything right! Since their restaurants don't even install a freezer they only use fresh ground beef, their French fries are cut on site from sacks of potatoes you can see immediately upon entering the restaurant, and a well positioned handwritten sign clearly announces the origin of the spuds you are enthusiastically scarfing down. So basically, everything is being done from scratch with a strong focus on the ingredients. If more locally owned joints took a cue from wildly popular places like this it would dramatically improve the culinary scene in the Fox Valley.
Five guys doesn’t just get the ingredients right, they get the flavor right. Their hand cut fries are fried twice in peanut oil, the king of French fry oils. Then after filling your fry cup to the brim with delicious golden fries, they fill another scoop and dump it in your bag - Your cup truly runneth over. Be sure to take advantage of the malt vinegar they provide for the fries. I like mixing it with my ketchup for an added tang.
The perfectly juicy, not overly dense burgers are equally delicious. Rather than selecting from a pre-set list of burger options these sloppy creations are built with toppings of your choice. The burgers come standard with two patties, so be sure to order a “Little” one if you have a smaller appetite.
I don’t have plans to review other chains, but I made an exception for Five Guys because the Valley lacks a good home-grown burger joint. Mr. Cinders patties are too dense for me, and aren’t even crafted in-house. Rule #1 of being legit burger joint is that you need to be able to make your own patties. The other popular area burger joint, Mihms, I have never even tried. The stink they raised about food trucks in Menasha left a bad taste in my mouth for them. Finally, Serious Burger is delicious but the owner is not someone I wish to promote. If there is a local place kicking out great burgers that I need to know about, please don't hesitate to tell me about it.