I’m a big fan of Smashburger. Their burgers are high-quality, with great patties and fresh veggies, and they’re prepared quickly yet carefully. But how would they do with another kind of sandwich? A chicken sandwich, perhaps? Let’s find out!!

Nothing “Mc” about THIS chicken!!

Pretty well, it turns out!! The Chicken Avocado Club includes chicken (choice of crispy or grilled, so I obviously went with crispy) with avocado, bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayo and ranch dressing. The avocado here is outstanding. It’s freshly sliced to order, meaning it’s firm and flavorful, unlike the goop that other restaurants spoon onto their sandwiches (looking at you, Subway). The chicken was delicious white meat, the veggies were fresh, and everything came together well.

The Chicken Avocado Club runs for about $7. It sounds slightly expensive, but remember that this is the Cadillac of fast-food chicken sandwiches. You can taste the difference. If you don’t believe me, try it for yourself!!

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I’ve always had a soft spot of Steak ‘n Shake, as the archive will attest. One of my very first reviews was of a couple of their Steakburgers. I’ve been there a couple times lately and I wanted to cover some ground, so I’m grouping a couple of their entrees together for this one.

Honestly, more of a cheeseburger than a grilled cheese anyway.

Let’s start with the bad news: the 3D Grilled Cheese. I know, I know, it sounds amazing. But strictly speaking, all sandwiches they serve exist in three dimensions, so that’s not really an innovation. The 3D Grilled Cheese includes American, Swiss and Pepperjack cheeses melted on two patties with their signature Frisco sauce, between two buns which are served upside-down for some reason. Here’s a secret in sandwich prep: you usually only need one cheese. Sometimes you can combine a more flavorful option like cheddar or feta with a softer base like mozzarella or American, but that’s advanced stuff. Cheeses have different melting points, flavors and consistencies, and throwing too many together on a sandwich kind of makes a mess. I wouldn’t recommend this one. (NOTE: None of my issues come from the preparation of it. This steakburger was prepared by Sohrab Foroozesh, a prince among men and a masterful comedian. He’s definitely a man who understands the true beauty of sandwiches.)

The kind of burger you bring home to meet your parents.

Next on the slate is the Royale Steakburger. A holdover from their regionally-inspired burgers, the Royale takes a deluxe steakburger with all the fixins (bacon, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayo) and tops it with a fried egg. I’m a fan of clever use of eggs, and the quality of the fried egg was surprisingly good. A new sauce might’ve helped set it apart from other burgers a little bit, but it’s certainly a passable entry into the Steak ‘n Shake menu.

The darkhorse of my Steak ‘n Shake trips.

Last, but certainly not least, is the new Jalapeno Crunch Steakburger. This burger adds Pepperjack cheese, jalapenos slices, salsa, chipotle mayo, and fried onions. I’m generally not a fan of sandwiches which are hot for heat’s sake. This one isn’t. The onions and mayo cut the heat, leaving the flavor of the jalapenos and salsa intact. The burger has a full flavor on par with the Western BBQ and Bacon (Steak ‘n Shake’s masterpiece). I was actually a little bit sad when I finished it. Definitely one of my new favorites.

All of these burgers are about $5 with fries. You can try whichever ones you like, but I highly, HIGHLY recommend the Jalapeno Crunch. Hopefully it’ll evolve into a permanent menu item, but don’t risk it.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries is a growing fast food burger chain. I’d heard of them from a number of people in the state, but their first location in my neck of the woods opened up last week (on Westnedge, in Portage), and I decided to check it out. I had heard good things about them, so my expectations were high.

Not the Five Guys I went to, but a Five Guys nonetheless. I guess stacking sacks of potatoes in the restaurant is kind of their thing?

Five Guys reminded me somewhat of Schipper’s in NYC, and I’ve been told it’s also similar to In-N-Out Burger out west. Basically, it’s one of those restaurants with about a hundred people in the kitchen frying up patties and bacon. Their standard burgers come with grilled onions and mushrooms, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, mayo, ketchup and mustard. Bacon and cheese can be added for a fee. Obviously, I went for the bacon and cheese.

The burger was delicious. This is a classic American hamburger: messy, greasy and delicious. All of the ingredients are fresh enough and prepared to order, but in a quick, energetic fashion. Five Guys uses an egg bun, which is slightly sweeter and somewhat richer than an average hamburger bun. The classic style was great, but Five Guys also offers relish, Jalepeno peppers, A1 steak sauce, and more.

As delicious as it is messy.

Five Guys is a bit more expensive, running around $6-8 for a burger without any sides or drinks. They only offer fries as a side (I would recommend Five Guys style over Cajun style, as crazy as that sounds). It’s not super pricey, but it’s more expensive than the average fast food joint.

One other thing: I don’t usually go into nutrition/health stuff on Sandwichtalk. I don’t generally count calories myself or anything, and I figure there are plenty of places to find that kind of information online if you’re interested. But I do feel the need to mention that Five Guys has been listed on a couple of lists of the most unhealthy restaurant foods, and a burger has between 700 and 1000 calories. I only bring this up because a few hours after eating there, I felt really bloated and sick.

Again, I did enjoy Five Guys. I had a great burger there, which was prepared quickly and to order. But the fact that it’s a little pricey and a little unhealthy means it’s not going to become one of my regular spots. Definitely try it, definitely have it every now and then, but I wouldn’t turn it into a daily or weekly destination.