I ate a burger and fries at both BurgerFi and Five Guys to see how different they were.
Both chains take orders at a counter and call out to diners when the food is ready.
Both were delicious, but BurgerFi felt a bit fancier in terms of the food.
I compared the same meal from BurgerFi and Five Guys to see which was better.
Both BurgerFi and Five Guys Burgers and Fries are quick-service chains serving up a menu based on hamburgers and french fries.
Five Guys has 1,400 locations across 49 states, according to the company website, while BurgerFi has 120 locations across 22 states.
Since both chains specialize in the same food items, I ordered a single cheeseburger and a small side of fries from each to compare the two chains’ food and atmosphere.
BurgerFi has been serving diners since 2011.
I grew up in New York and don’t remember ever noticing a BurgerFi location around. The chain is headquartered in Florida, and that’s where I first tasted it many years ago.
So on a recent trip back to the southeastern state, I wanted to give it another try.
Five Guys Burgers and Fries has been dishing out fast food since 1986.
I’ve been a loyal Five Guys customer for around eight years now, and I’ve tried almost everything on the menu (and even some things on the secret menu, like a patty melt and a hack for getting two-for-one burgers).
One big difference I noticed is the restaurants’ respective interiors. BurgerFi, in my opinion, looks more like a casual restaurant and bar.
Inside, the restaurant looks like a cross between a bar and a low-key restaurant, making it a good example of a fast-casual chain, in my opinion.
The soft-industrial decor included a mix of metal and wood tables, pounded metal detailing, and light fixtures that looked like art.
The menu was displayed on large TV screens above the register and kitchen window, and there was a small selection of on-tap beers next to the register, which reminded me of Shake Shack, a fast-casual burger chain that started in New York City.
I think the emphasis on aesthetics and range of specialty menu items is what makes this fast-casual rather than fast-food — plus, my food didn’t actually come out quickly at all.
Five Guys has a more fast-food-chain atmosphere with the tiled walls and bright-red counters and uniforms.
At Five Guys, the bright colors and tiled walls mentally put me in a fast-food environment. Even though you still order at a counter with a register and wait for your name or number to be called, the atmosphere is different than it is at BurgerFi.
Instead of beer on tap next to the register, there are bottled waters and sodas on display in a bucket.
Five Guys also has an open kitchen, which means customers can clearly see everything that’s going on behind the scenes as their food is being prepared and cooked in the standard eight-minute timeframe the chain uses to get its food to customers.
At BurgerFi, I ordered a single cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, pickles, American cheese, and BurgerFi sauce.
This burger was a customized version of the chain’s BurgerFi Cheeseburger (which typically comes with two patties and without pickles) and cost me $6.39 at the South Florida location. (Prices vary by market, and the same sandwich at a New York City location costs $6.97.)
In terms of the ingredients, I was impressed.
BurgerFi’s beef patties looked like they were shaped in-house as the edges and sides weren’t quite perfect.
The single piece of lettuce was large and had more of a crunch than I expected from looking at how leafy it was. A single slice of tomato added much-needed texture and lightness to an otherwise rich meal.
The meat itself had a lot of savory flavors that went beyond salty and veered into the realm of umami, and the cheese was nice and melty.
While the pickles were only slightly acidic, I wished there were more of them or that they were better spread out on the bun so that I could taste them in each bite.
I was impressed by how well this bun stood up to the juices and sauce. It didn’t get soggy or fall apart under the weight of it all. I came back to this sandwich around 20 minutes later and the bun was still dry and intact.
At Five Guys, I ordered a little cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and American cheese.
This burger was more expensive than BurgerFi’s at $8.49. (Prices vary by location and the same sandwich at a South Florida location costs $7.39.)
At Five Guys, there are no standard sandwiches on the menu like there are at the Florida-based chain. So customers have to ask for all the toppings they want individually. But I don’t mind that at all — in fact, I think I prefer it.
The toppings at Five Guys were more generously applied than those at BurgerFi.
My Five Guys burger had six pickle discs carefully spread out on a bed of torn iceberg lettuce pieces. The pickles were enough to provide a significant flavor boost and the lettuce gave a freshness to the heavy sandwich.
This burger had two slices of tomato stacked inside, which made the flavor and texture of their presence more prominent.
The meat at Five Guys lends itself well to sauces and toppings, but it doesn’t have a pronounced flavor of its own, in my opinion.
While I love the sesame seed bun that you can only get at Five Guys, it doesn’t last very long before succumbing to the pickle juices and tomato liquid around the edges. This isn’t usually an issue unless you’re taking your food to go and commuting to another location before diving in.
At BurgerFi, I tried an order of plain french fries
For $4.29 in Florida ($4.37 in NYC), I ordered a “regular” sized order of fries, which is the smallest size option.
They came salted and hot, which is always a plus (and never guaranteed).
The potatoes were cut to around 1/2-inch thick, varied in length, and some had brown potato skin on the outside, which I personally love. They were soft inside and had a semi-crunchy exterior.
After around 30 minutes, though, these fries got cold, turned stiff, and lost most of their flavor.
I ordered a little fry at Five Guys, which is this chain’s term for the smallest size on offer.
This order of fries at Five Guys in NYC cost me $4.39 ($4.59 in Florida).
Five Guys fries have a mashed-potato-like interior and a soft but noticeable exterior. They were served hot and salted, and retained both their texture and flavor once they turned cold.
These spuds were also cut to around 1/2-inch thick, varied in length, and had the same natural potato skin on them as BurgerFi’s fries did.
Ultimately, I think the chains are completely different in terms of aesthetics, but the food is very similar.
While the vibes inside each restaurant are definitely different — BurgerFi being the more upscale version of Five Guys’ classic fast-food joint flair — the menu basics are close competitors.
Quality-wise, I think both chains use ingredients that feel and taste fresh to me as a customer. From the buns to the veggies and even the patties, they both leave little to be desired.
Though I’ve been a longtime fan of Five Guys, I think I prefer the overall burger at BurgerFi because of its sturdy bun and flavorful meat. It’s also less expensive, which is a draw for me.
After trying the fries from both chains, Five Guys’ spuds reign supreme, in my opinion. The fact that they keep their flavor and texture even if you take a while to finish the massive portion is a characteristic I can’t ignore.
While I think BurgerFi is a fast-casual chain with fancier-than-fast-food dishes — the menu includes specialty burgers and truffle fries — even when boiled down to the basics, I’d choose this smaller chain over Five Guys if they were right next to each other.
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