On a recent trip to Dallas with my oldest son, Stephen, we stopped by the Galleria Mall. With four stories of shopping, an ice skating rink on the lower level, and the nation’s tallest indoor Christmas tree, the Galleria is a shopper’s paradise (at least if you have money or a credit card).
For those of us who love food (Baptist pastors most especially), there is no shortage of eateries in the Galleria. We discovered one of those places tucked away on the lower level next to the ice skating rink: Five Guys Burgers and Fries.
When I spotted the sign, I vaguely remembered reading about Five Guys. I told my son that I thought that the burger joint started in NYC, although it turns out that the first Five Guys originated in Arlington, VA in 1986.
Had I known about these burgers when I was in college at George Washington University (1984-88), I would have found a way to get to Arlington! But alas, I had to wait 22 years after I left the Washington, D.C. area to eat my first meal at a Five Guys. And, in Dallas, Texas no less!
My son and I hit the Five Guys at just the right time on a Monday night. We walked right up to the counter to order and were immediately greeted by a nice young man (at 44, I’m beginning to feel like an old guy when I write something like that) who gave us a crash course in ordering.
Now, if this was a burger joint just out to make a quick buck without any care for their customer, especially first-timers, then we would have been “allowed” to both order the “hamburger” and an order of fries for each of us.
Instead of letting us find out the hard way — both with our appetites and our money — the man behind the counter told us that the “hamburger” was two patties while the “little burger” was one patty. He went on to explain that one “regular” order of fries would be more than enough to feed my son and me.
With our newly acquired knowledge of the ins-and-outs of Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Stephen ordered a “little” bacon cheeseburger and I ordered a bacon burger. We chose from a large variety of free condiments and toppings. We decided we better just get one order of regular fries and two drinks.
Our total order came to about $17. Now, for two people at a burger joint, that sounds like a lot of money. A comparable amount of food and drinks at a popular fast food establishment might set you back $12-$14. Was Five Guys going to be worth a few extra bucks? We would see.
In about ten minutes, we had our food. The burgers and fries came out hot. Made to order from fresh ground beef, that was certainly a good sign. When Stephen and I took our first bite into our very first Five Guys burger, we immediately knew that the extra few bucks were well spent.
I love hamburgers. I have eaten these wonderful creations in many different venues, including many that I’ve cooked at home. Not since the hamburgers that I ate as a boy at the Lake Placid Drug Store in our hometown in Florida have I encountered such a great tasting burger!
Stephen and I were blown away by the delicious taste of our Five Guys burgers. To top it off, the homemade fries (non-Cajun) were also super. This was one of those meals where you hate to eat the last bite of burger because the burger was so great and you know that there will not be another bite after that. At least anytime soon. Or so I thought.
As we were finishing our meal, one of the Five Guys employees came over and asked how everything was. We told him we had a first great experience with Five Guys, but we were from New Mexico and just knew that there were no franchises near us. He said that Five Guys was expanding into New Mexico, but I thought to myself, “That would be nice, but there is no way that Five Guys is coming anywhere near where I live in Alamogordo.” As Stephen and I left the restaurant, we both knew that this was another great experience on our father and son roadtrip to Dallas.
When we got back home, I decided to find the closest the Five Guys to Alamogordo. No way! A new franchise was already open in Albuquerque. Folks know that Bugs Bunny “should have made a left toin at Albukoykee,” but that spot in the road was three hours away and I wouldn’t be in NM’s largest city until late January. Drats!
How about a Five Guys in El Paso, only 1 1/2 hours away. Great Scott! Not one, but two new Five Guys in El Paso. One on the Westside, in the Sunland Park area, was already open. Another, on the Eastside near the Lifeway Christian Store (I know where that is) would be opening in a few weeks.
When could I get to El Paso to try a Five Guys burger? As providence would have it, one of the students in our youth group was having surgery in El Paso on Monday. Jon, our Student Pastor, was thinking about making the trip to the hospital for the surgery.
Wanting to spend some quality time with my new Pastor to Students and visit a student and his family at a critical time of ministry, we headed off to El Paso. We had a great visit with the student’s dad and had time to check out the Lifeway store. After a busy day, we headed for the Five Guys Burgers and Fries on Sunland Park Drive.
At 2:30 in the afternoon, the place was hopping with people, both employees and customers. We placed our order and waited. I knew it would be great. Jon was a newbie. After what seemed like an hour (really about 10 minutes), we got our food. Cajun fries this time — Jon and his family came to us from Louisiana.
The verdict? Outstanding! Now, how to get back to El Paso again without a long time between visits? Just so happens there is a Bed, Bath, and Beyond next door to the Five Guys. We’re already planning a road trip with our wives in the not too distant future. Brenda and Amanda can shop to their hearts’ content. But, shopping can be exhausting. They’ll need to eat to keep up their strength. Jon and I know just the place!