Restaurant review: Five Guys, High Street, Croydon town centre

By - Friday 29th September, 2017

A new burger joint brings the guys to central Croydon

Time from East Croydon:  5 minutes

7-11 High Street, Croydon CR0 1QA

Photo author’s own.

There was a great deal of fanfare when the American burger and fries emporium Five Guys opened its first UK branch in Covent Garden back in 2013. And now, in the latest sign of Croydon’s burgeoning cultural and economic significance, the chain has set up on our town centre High Street.

Like other Five Guys branches, the new Croydon unit has the feel of a classic American diner. The interior is decked out in cheery checkered red and white, the food is fast and the service comes with a smile.

Despite some disquiet from animal welfare protesters when it first opened, the Croydon store appears to be doing well and was certainly busy when I was there. Five Guys is definitely a place for meat lovers. There is no veggie burger but there is a vegetarian sandwich which apparently offers ‘all the fun of the burger but without the meat patty’. Five Guys is also best avoided by nut allergy sufferers because the fries are cooked in peanut oil and there are complimentary roasted peanuts scattered around the restaurant. However, if you like meat and you’re alright with peanuts, then you will be A-OK. I opted for a cheese burger with most of the free toppings on offer: I’m talking lettuce, tomato, pickle, mushrooms, green peppers and jalapeños with splashes of ketchup and mayo. Remarkably, all of that was packed into one burger – and that’s with two thick patties of beef.

Photo by Rufus Jones, used with permission.

Having been to a Five Guys before, I was careful to order the ‘little fries’. The regular portion is MASSIVE and the smaller one is more than sufficient. The soft drinks are bottomless and are served up by a clever touchscreen machine with numerous carbonated choices. It was Fanta for me. They also serve milkshakes, of course.

Obviously, Five Guys is not particularly healthy. It’s also not cheap. My burger, fries and drink came to £13.85. It was very good but I couldn’t do that too often and it would be expensive to feed a full family.

I wonder where Five Guys will sit in a Croydon burger market that is already saturated. We’ve got MEATliquor and other outlets at Boxpark. We’ve got old-school fast food joints like Burger King and Maccy Ds. We’ve also got the brilliant local and independent outlet, BRGR&BEER at Matthews Yard. Everyone loves a burger, though, so I’m sure there is room for all of the above. In the burger hierarchy, Five Guys seeks to position itself somewhere in the middle, between the cheap and cheerful and the high-end fancy. It’s a business model that seems to work.

Five Guys has a cult following and very strong brand loyalty. I suspect it will do well in Croydon and I welcome it to our town. It’s the kind of comforting treat, once in a while, that will guarantee you have a nice day.

Martin Leay

Martin Leay

Martin has lived in Purley since 2014 and is passionate about the borough of Croydon. From 2015-2017 he presented and produced ‘Happy Sundays’ – an Indie, Rock and Pop show on Croydon Radio. His day job is in politics, carrying out research for Labour MPs. Martin became a Dad in September 2017 and is very proud that his daughter was born in Croydon.

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  • Anne Giles

    You say that everybody loves a burger. Lots of people don’t. We don’t eat them because they are not just meat. We have no idea what the meat is mixed up with. A steak which is pure meat is fine.

  • Patrick Blewer

    Hi Martin. Great review. Whilst you’re right, it’s not cheap, im sure youre aware that the burger / fast food world is rapidly grouping into different pricepoints, marketed at distinct socio economic groups.

    Meat Liquor is not competing against trad burger brands. Five Guys feels like somewhere inbetween. Less aggressively trendy and expensive but still an aspirational brand that positions itself above BK/ McD.

    Whether 5G has got enough brand power to be successful in a competitive market it, as you say, the big question. Are there enough croydonians with the wedge or has 5G got a cheap rate / deal on rates?

    Cheers and looking forward to your next review