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Steppin' Up To The Plate

Five Guys vs. Jake’s Wayback Burgers: Who’s the best?

By The Rehoboth Foodie | Jul 18, 2013
Photo by: Foodie Ladies and gentlemen, start your forks. The envelope, please....

The burger wars are sizzling as patty lovers line up on both sides of the grill; spatulas drawn, with mustard and ketchup squirters aimed squarely at one another. The battle lines are clear: Which is better? The red and white-tiled Alexandria, Virginia-based Five Guys with their bottomless barrels of peanuts, bright red aprons and brown-bagged fries, or is it Newark, Delaware-born Jake’s Wayback Burgers; thick and juicy, with an order of crispy onion rings and a frosty milkshake in a stainless steel cup – just like “way back when,” in fact.

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Let’s start with the basics: Without the patty, a burger is just a messy salad on a roll. Jake’s cooks their beef slowly, retaining much of the size and juicy taste. Order the Jake’s Triple, and you won’t need to eat again until mid-September.

Five Guys is all about the savory crust. Their grills are hotter and their patties are slightly thinner than Jake’s. This results in a darker, more well-done burger, with that great mouth-feel of sizzled beef (carnivorous foodies call that the Maillard reaction). In fact, Five Guys won’t make a rare burger even if you ask. As you might expect, both chains are sensitive to temperature and food safety.

The bun is critical to a good hamburger. Too hard, and the patty flies out the other side and puts somebody’s eye out. Too soft, and it disintegrates into a doughy glob of juice and toppings. Five Guys’ and Jake’s rolls are different, but they are both high on the list of quality hamburger rolls: Soft and yeasty enough to gently cradle their treasure, yet firm enough to withstand your trembling fingers on the outside and the moist treats on the inside.

Jake’s Wayback Burgers can be accompanied by onion rings, housemade potato chips or fries – cooked without peanut oil. This results in a more delicate and lighter colored product. Five Guys’ french fries are cooked in peanut oil, imparting a darker color and (for Delaware and Maryland fry lovers) a more Thrasher’s-like aroma and consistency.

Both chains offer a tasty hot dog (I get one for dessert). Jake’s whips up those old-time milkshakes. Five Guys adds a kosher dog and 15 different toppings. Jake’s offers regional selections and salads. Five Guys has a grilled cheese sandwich. Both offer bacon and cheese.

Could it be a toss-up? Try them both and decide for yourself. You knew that was coming, didn’t you?

The Rehoboth Foodie is the author of the popular iPhone and Android travel app, Rehoboth In My Pocket. Arrive as a Visitor, Live Like a Local! Contact at foodie@CapeGazette.com.

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