Battle of the Burgers: East Versus West


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, 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.


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


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.