The burger. It is the face of American cuisine, global fast food, and obesity. The burger market is a 73 billion dollar business, and Americans eat over 14 billion burgers annually, according to The Daily Meal. There are nearly 50,000 different burger joints in the United States, giving people many options when it comes to our country’s favorite food.
In Richmond, just like the rest of the country, there are many options to get a burger. These options can range from a simple McDonald’s Big Mac to the gourmet burgers at Burger Bach. For me, a McDonald’s burger is not quality enough, and restaurants such as Burger Bach are too expensive and time-consuming for me to be a regular customer. I prefer burger joints that are quick and cost-effective yet still serve quality food.
Three Richmond restaurants that fit this description are Five Guys, Cookout, and Burgerworks. Five Guys and Cookout are chains, and many people already know about their food. They both serve tasty, yet different burgers, and are good options for an affordable meal out. Burgerworks, although lesser known, is an equally wonderful burger joint. All three of these places are very different, and provide the right burger for different occasions. Recently, I decided to visit all three locations to enjoy some burgers and review the restaurants.
There are over 1,000 Five Guys locations across the nation, and at each one, you get the same thing. The interior is decorated in a strictly red and white color scheme. There are free peanuts to take right as you walk in the door. Bags of potatoes line up against the wall, displaying to the consumer that they are eating freshly made french fries. The menu is simple. You can order a burger, to which you can add cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, or a large array of other toppings. You can also order a hot dog or a grilled cheese, but nothing else as your main entrée. Cooked in pure peanut oil, Five Guys’ burgers are simple, yet fantastic. The fries also come in extremely generous serving portions. A large order of fries not only fills up a large paper drink cup but also overflows into the brown paper bag that your meal is served in, making the consumer dig through the mass of fries to pull their burger out of the bag.
If you have never eaten at Five Guys’ before, you may think that the extent of their menu does not lend itself to repeat customers. But if you ate one of their burgers, you would think differently. In my opinion, a greasy Five Guys bacon cheeseburger is the best you can get. The American cheese melts under the bun, and the bacon compliments the burger to create a classic American melt-in-your-mouth burger.
Cookout’s drive-thru style restaurant has become famous all over the East Coast. Unlike Five Guys, they do not solely focus on burgers. Their menu also consists of chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, barbeque, fries, milkshakes, and other desserts. Cookout’s burger is definitely the most affordable option of the three places I visited. Depending on size, prices range from $1.19 to $2.59. My favorite burger is the cheddar style burger, which has cheese, bacon, and onions. Cookout has other signature burgers, and also gives you the option to customize a burger with toppings of your choice.
In terms of burger quality, I would rank Cookout behind Five Guys and Burgerworks. However, in terms of bang for your buck, I would rank it first. A quality burger for two dollars is a great option for someone who is looking for a quick, affordable burger.
Burgerworks, while still a relatively quick and easy meal, is very different from the previous two options. Cookout and Five Guys provide a tasty, yet greasy and unhealthy burger. Burgerworks, on the other hand, gives consumers healthy options and customization. You can order a turkey burger, a veggie burger, a bison burger, or a normal hamburger. The customization possibilities are endless. I ordered a normal burger on a white bun with provolone, lettuce, onions, and a red wine glaze.
The magic of Burgerworks is that the burger is wonderfully tasty, but unlike Five Guys or Cookout, your stomach doesn’t feel sick afterwards. A Burgerworks burger is not very greasy and consists of higher quality meat and ingredients. The variety the restaurant offers allows the consumer to get something different at every visit. Out of the three restaurants I visited, Burgerworks is the most likely to be a restaurant that you frequently visit.
Of three burger joints I visited, each has a different purpose. The Five Guys burger was the best, with its juicy burger patties and melty cheese. Cookout served the quickest and cheapest burger. And Burgerworks provided the healthiest and most reasonable burger. Depending on your taste, there are many options in Richmond for you to eat America’s favorite food, the burger.
All Photos by Dalton Ruh