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Five Guys serves up tasty buys

When scouring an area for the best eats, foodies tend to look for expensive, high-profile eateries, obscure dives or mom-and-pop stops where everything on the menu is made fresh daily. Chain restaurants are ignored or overlooked, thought to be too generic, bland and mass-produced.

What if, though, one of the best burger joints was a chain? Chaos would certainly ensue for food connoisseurs everywhere.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries, which opened in Peoria in December, does exactly that – throws a giant wrench into the “best of” equation.

Originating in Virginia, Five Guys has slowly crept across America, bringing with it a cult following and delicious burgers. For the most part, it lives up to – and exceeds – the immense amount of hype behind it.

Walking in, it would be hard to distinguish Five Guys from any other restaurant. Its red and white checker design is vaguely reminiscent of Steak and Shake and the pathway to the register is lined with bags of whatever potatoes and peanut oil are used for that day’s french fries.

As you order your food, things still seem normal. The menu isn’t extensive, offering a couple variations on burgers, hot dogs, grilled cheese and fries, but the execution behind it is what makes it special.

According to the Five Guys website, there are more than 250,000 burger combinations possible. Luckily, you can pile on as many toppings as you want free of extra charge, which is a bonus, as ordering fries and a drink might put your order close to $10 (easily the biggest downside to the restaurant, especially for a cheap college student.).

While most of the toppings are standard, such as ketchup, mustard or pickles, if you really want to be adventurous, you could order hot sauce, jalapenos or steak sauce.

The portions are huge; the standard burger comes with two patties and the regular order of fries is too much for even the hungriest of duos to split.

Even the fries have different options – Cajun and regular. Behind the insanely delectable burgers and hot dogs, the fries are somewhat lacking; a little too soggy and undercooked to be truly delicious. But as long you’re splitting them, they make a decent side. If you want something more than fries to enjoy with your meal, there are free peanuts around the restaurant, just like a bar.

The burgers themselves are delicious, juicy creations that overflow from the wrapping. The bacon seems much fresher and crispier than other restaurants but even without the bacon (which, along with cheese, will cost extra) the burgers are full of flavor.

The real surprise, though, is in the hot dog. While the burgers are easily one of the best around, nothing compares to the bacon cheese dog. The hot dog is sliced down the middle, and then the crispy bacon and cheese are put on. The cheese isn’t nacho cheese either, it’s the same that is used on the burgers.

The overpowering crunch from the bacon combined with gooeyness of the cheese and general tastiness of the hot dog make a lethal combination, one that could easily be consumed daily.

While a little more on the expensive end than the average burger place, if you’re looking for a flavorful, delicious meal Five Guys Burgers and Fries is one of the best around. Seriously, that bacon cheese dog is insane.

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