During holiday time, I'm always rushed. All the shopping, time crunches and deadlines give me an appetite. While I like to eat at mom-and-pop, locally owned restaurants, sometimes, you just gotta grab a meal on the go.
So I hurried down the lane, and what to my wondering eyes should appear? The jolly white-and-red checkered signs of Five Guys Burgers and Fries.
I dashed through the parking lot at the Bi-Lo shopping plaza at 12820 S. Tryon, in Steele Creek, and slipped inside Suite 150 to find lots of diners, but no wait at the ordering counter. The rockin' music, clean space and ready staff set me at ease.
Five Guys, which marks its 25th anniversary in 2011, has 725 locations in more than 40 states and four in Canada, but unfortunately, none in York County. The Steele Creek location is one of eight within a 25-mile radius of Rock Hill. Franchise opportunities are available.
The menu is great. It's simple - burgers, fries and hotdogs. The burger options are simple, too. Hamburgers served plain, with cheese or with cheese and bacon. A regular burger prices $4.69 to $5.99. A little burger runs $3.49 to $4.59.
There are plenty of toppings - 15 - to add on, and they're all free. The list includes the usual ketchup, mustard, lettuce and pickles, plus relish, A-1 sauce, grilled mushrooms, barbecue, hot sauce and jalapeños. In fact, according to fiveguys.com, there are "over 250,000 possible ways to order a burger at Five Guys."
I've been here many times, so I've learned the little burger is enough. It's also enough because I know the brown bag the meal is served in comes loaded with fries. I love Five Guys burgers, like homemade, but way better. One bite and you know it's 100 percent fresh beef. There are no freezers here, just coolers.
But the fries stand on equal ground for bringing me in. They remind me of home, because when I cover the fresh, thick-cut fries in vinegar, the comforting high school football game days come back. Fries - $2.59 to $4.59 - also can come served in Cajun style. I like Five Guys style. It's all salted perfectly, too.
After placing our order, we took a seat at one of many tables and started looking at the walls lined in newspaper and magazine articles. Our order was up quickly, and as we enjoyed the scrumptious, perfectly cooked burgers and fries, I noticed another diner grabbing some of the free peanuts. The fries are made with peanut oil, which gives the fries a full taste and is part of the restaurant's identity, according to Five Guys.
I hadn't known before either, but Five Guys also offers veggie sandwiches and grilled cheese. There are plenty of high chairs for the kids, and outdoor patio seating, too.
I knew I had to head out soon, and luckily, I wasn't overstuffed. The little burger and splitting the regular fries was filling and satisfying.
Five Guys serves gourmet burgers made fresh for folks on the go and gives busy folks a place to hide away and relax in comfort food for a little while before heading back out into the winter chill and holiday bustle.
Catherine Muccigrosso, Lake Wylie Pilot editor