Unpopular Opinion: Why Five Guys Is Better Than Shake Shack

When it comes to fast food chains and burgers, people definitely have their opinions and their loyalties, as they should. Good marketing will get people in the door, but the quality of the food and the customer service are what earn the allegiance that gets customers to return time and time again. One of the most heated debates among burger lovers is who makes them best? There are a lot of competitors vying for that consumer love with Five Guys and Shake Shack among the most fierce contenders in these arguments. Visit a Reddit debate on the subject, and you can see just how divided people are.

However, it really isn't a contest. Hands down, Five Guys, with its superior food and overall dining experience, surpasses Shake Shack, and all of its competition, every time. And in the immortal words of boxing great Muhammad Ali, "It ain't bragging, if you can back it up." The proof is in the numbers. According to an annual poll conducted by Harris, Five Guys has held its title of best burger brand for two years in a row. The 77,031 people surveyed ranked 17 different different chains which included Jack in the Box, Hardee's, White Castle, Carl's Jr., Checkers/Rally's, DQ Grill & Chill, Burger King, McDonald's, Wendy's, SONIC America's Drive-In, Five Guys, In-N-Out Burger, Culver's, Steak 'n Shake, Whataburger, Shake Shack, and Smashburger. Five Guys was crowned victorious (via Harris Poll). 

A burger by any other name would not be as good

If we look at the burgers of both Five Guys and Shake Shack and do a side-by-side comparison, we will find Team Five Guys winning at each juncture. So, let's deconstruct these babies piece by piece, starting with the bun. The bun is key because this is what you are going to be holding in your hand while noshing down on your burger. If the bun is too soft and falls apart, your burger goes all over the place. If it is too dry or stale, that's not pleasant either. Five Guys starts with a seeded sesame bun, that is squished down in its foil packaging, ready to eat. It's airy with the perfect ratio of sesame seeds on top. Shake Shack uses Martin's potato roll and toasted in butter. We like Martin's, and while it seems like the bun really comes down to preference, the texture of the sesame seed bun just seems right when you are eating a burger. It's not just the foundation we want, it's the one we need to build the rest of our mouth-watering sandwich (via Serious Eats).

But, the sauces and toppings are where the two burgers really start to differentiate themselves and show their personalities. 

Five Guys pulls away with their toppings

This is where Five Guys really starts to pull away like re-watching Michael Schumacher in a Formula One race. Five Guys has pretty much thought of everything anyone could possibly want to create a dream burger. Crispy bacon, melty American cheese, relish, raw onions, iceberg lettuce, pickles, sliced beefsteak tomatoes, grilled chopped onions, grilled sliced mushrooms, sliced jalapeño peppers, and raw, sliced green peppers are all available to customize your burger. All free. 

There are actually 250,000 ways to to customize your burger. In contrast, Shake Shack's toppings are rather limiting. They only offer leaf lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and pickles. Five Guys is the clear champ here. Giving your customers options to build their burger the way they want it, makes all the difference. Five Guys also pulls out all the stops with their sauces: ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, A.1. Steak Sauce, barbecue sauce, and hot sauce. Shake Shake only offers mayo, mustard, ketchup, and Thousand Island dressing.

Which brings us to the meat. Five Guys uses a 3.3-ounce patty made from a proprietary blend that is pattied in-house. It is the perfect amount of greasy and salty and can stand alone without any toppings. Shake Shack uses a 4-ounce patty, also made from a proprietary blend delivered fresh daily. But as one Redditor pointed out, the flavor is kind of bland and doesn't meet the hype. 

Five Guys fries are super fly

Burgers aside, Five Guys has fresh-cut fries that get you salivating before you even unbuckle your seat belt and get into their restaurant. Five Guys uses potatoes sourced from different locations across the nation and let their customers know exactly where they came from. Their hand-spun vanilla shakes offer customers the opportunity to customize with bacon, bananas, Oreo cookie pieces, Oreo creme, peanut butter, chocolate, strawberries, and so much more. And if the line is long at Five Guys, they've got you covered. Scoop up some peanuts and start cracking and munching while you decide on your order (via Five Guys).

Shake Shack also offers fries and shakes, but their crinkly fries start frozen, and, unfortunately, they taste like it. One writer called them "underwhelming" to anyone over the age of 8, and compared drinking their shakes to sucking up a pile of dust (via Deadspin). Way harsh, but we agree. In the end, the love that Five Guys has put into their products echoes an eternity of purpose: Great food that keeps us coming back.