Presentation. In-N-Out and Five Guys are similarly spartan establishments. Neither is posh, neither is bad. Both have a kind of lean 50s charm that works. The Five Guys burger comes to you wrapped in a foil paper wrapping, mostly to contain its heat and the juices and goo that come with it. In-N-Out comes smiling up at you from the bag, half wrapped in paper and insulated with a napkin to soak up the loose juice. It begs you to wolf it down. I have to give the edge on presentation to In-N-Out.
Bread. No burger can reach greatness unless its bread is worthy. Five Guys bread is functional but not memorable. They toast it on the grill but not to the point of any crispiness, and the juices do away with whatever crispiness might be achieved. In-N-Out, on the other hand, toasts its bread to a perfect interior crispiness on the edges that meet the meat and the veggies. The crispiness makes the In-N-Out feel like a homemade burger from your grandma’s griddle. The bread edge goes to In-N-Out.
Veggies. Both franchises use fresh veggies and offer a wide variety of extras. In-N-Out has its own code lingo; Five Guys offers BBQ sauce, jalapenos, etc. Both offer grilled onions. Neither side impressed me more than the other on the veggies — both are top notch. So on veggies, it’s a draw.