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Battle of the Burgers: East Versus West


Posted on April 1

Photography by Gabriel Teague

The controversy is raging coast to coast (literally): Which is better—West Coast’s In-N-Out Burger or Five Guys, an East Coast favorite that recently sprouted two stores in the Sacramento region?
     To look at Yelp.com, you’d think it’s a battle as big as Democrat versus Republican or Beatles versus Stones. “I thought I was a hard-core In-N-Out fan until I ate here [Five Guys],” writes Aurora L. of San Diego. Perry M. of Lodi begs to differ. Five Guys “got nothin’ on In-N-Out,” he writes.
     Does one truly top the other? Just for fun, we thought we’d try a point-by-point comparison and see how they stack up. Since fries are part of the burger experience, we factored those in, too.

 

FIVE GUYS BURGERS AND FRIES
9257 Laguna Springs Drive, Elk Grove
We tried: Little Cheeseburger (“little” means one patty; the regular cheeseburger features two)
Meat: Thin patty, well done (at Five Guys, they’re all well done), with rich beef flavor, a little juice and (pleasant surprise) no gristle
Cheese: Good ol’ American, not quite melted
Bun: Sesame-seed bun, lightly browned; seemed a little tired
Toppings: Choice of 15 toppings, from the usual suspects (mayo, tomatoes, etc.) to jalapeño peppers, barbecue sauce and grilled mushrooms
Fries: Crisped golden in peanut oil, they’re frighteningly addictive; huge portion, too
Cost: Little cheeseburger: $4.19 + regular fries: $2.69 = $6.88

 

IN-N-OUT BURGER
4600 Madison Ave., Sacramento
We tried: Cheeseburger
Meat: Thin patty, nicely seasoned; not much juice but again, no gristle (yay)
Cheese: Thick slice of American, lusciously melted
Bun: Fresh, pleasantly spongy and grilled to perfection
Toppings: All burgers are dressed the same way: Thousand Island-style sauce, tomatoes and green-leaf lettuce; onions are optional
Fries: Just average: skinny, pale and fried in vegetable oil
Cost: Cheeseburger: $2.15 + regular fries: $1.40 = $3.55

 

The verdict? For a burger on a budget, there’s no contest: In-N-Out rules. But for this reporter, the parade of toppings and the insanely good fries make Five Guys well worth the additional $3.33. Let the food fight begin.

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