The Darla and I made it out to Liberty Station (formely Naval Training Center San Diego - where I went to Teletype Repair School a lifetime ago) for lunch after a business meeting downtown yesterday.
As I'm now officially a gimp, it wasn't easy for me to get to the place (I had to park across the street and crawled over a low fence rather than walk around the long way).
It's fairly industrial looking inside, with 50 pound bags of potatoes, bags of peanuts in the shell (free while you wait for your order to come up) and boxes of peanut oil acting as room dividers, the large, open kitchen, the red & white tile treatment on the walls and counters (In & Out style) and how they alternate the color scheme of the hanging overhead light fixtures to match the checkerboard tile work.
We ordered 2 small burgers (the LBC - Little Bacon Cheeseburger - mushrooms, lettuce, tomato and mayo with Swiss cheese for me, everything on the wife's LHB - Little Hamburger), a small order of fries, their skinless hot dog and a Coke. By everything, they mean mayo, lettuce, tomato, pickles, grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, mustard & ketchup. Additional (free) toppings include relish, onions, jalapeno peppers, green peppers, A-1 sauce, BBQ sauce and hot sauce.
Burgers come in 2 sizes only, the only toppings for the hot dogs are cheese and bacon, fries are either regular or Cajun, small or large and there's also a grilled cheese and a veggie sammie on the extremely short menu (as it should be). They use the Coke product line (also a point in their favor) and sell bottled water (no shakes, coffee, etc).
Even the small burgers were large but when our order came up, they forgot the bacon part...
And they advertise that their meat is never frozen and there are no freezers in the place but the patty was almost flavorless and appeared to be a generic Angus burger.
The bun was only so so and with the mayo and other condiments, it was a sloppy, gloopy mess (I hated the stiff, taste free sliced tomatoes and the lettuce needed to be properly manicured).
The hot dog had good flavor (butterflied and grilled) and the bun was also grilled but it was way too much dense bread.
The fries were the high point, home made, awesome and huge!
They routinely fill the cup, put it in the bag with the rest of your order then dump another scoop on top of that.
My brother Jim in Cleveland Heights, Ohio (there's a location there too) warned us about making the rookie mistake: order a small, single order of fries which is more than enough for 2 people.
We spent $18.00 exactly and although the chain is supposedly the fastest growing company in the field (600 new locations last year), we really couldn't see the attraction despite the quotes on the wall (Zagat Survey, Boston Globe Magazine, GQ and other smaller publications such as Time Out New York, Colorado Springs Gazzette, GO Magazine, Gulfshore Life, etc )...
We will visit it again, at least once more, to be fair and to be sure we had an accurate sampling...
Their web site: http://www.fiveguys.com/