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Burger Battle: In-N-Out Vs Five Guys

A few months back I blogged the wonders of the Five Guys burger, declaring it the best burger on the planet. Food blogging can be more perilous than politics or just about anything else; people are passionate about their palates. So that post generated quite a bit of feedback and a little bit of hate mail. People wanted to know: how could I declare Five Guys the best, when I had never even had the pleasure of the In-N-Out burger?

That was a good question, but I didn't have an answer. I could only shrug. I grew up on Whataburgers so I could authoritatively rule them great but Five Guys better. Ditto for Sonic, despite its unstoppable cherry limeade. We all have our local haunts that can't be topped. Around Austin, that's Mighty Fine. Up in Baltimore, Burger Bros. is amazing and I cannot recommend them highly enough. Every town has its own best burger. But among the big chains that inspire fanatic loyalty, which is the best?

Let's throw another bit of fire in the fight: Five Guys is an east coast franchise spreading west, while In-N-Out is a west coast franchise spreading east. They'll meet in the middle at some point. There will be burger blood. But I'm a man from the middle of the country, and am a fair judge of both coasts in that I largely condemn the culture and politics of both.

So anyway, while I'd been to the west coast several times, until last week I'd never eaten an In-N-Out burger. Something always got in the way. But at the end of a visit to PJM world headquarters in glamorous El Segundo, CA, on Friday, Daves Swindle and Steinberg and I hit the In-N-Out on Sepulveda on the way to LAX. So now I can weigh in.

When I assess competing burgers, I look at a few basic criteria: Presentation, Bread, Meat, Veggies, Fries, and Overall Taste. So let's break it down.