"I can has cheezburger?" It's not a phrase we gluten-free folks utter often, but when the answer to that question is yes, then we, too, smile like the happy, gray cheezburger-craving cat that the internet knows and loves. This past weekend, my boyfriend and I went to the closest Five Guys Burgers & Fries (200 West Ridge Pike, Conshohocken), and we were pleasantly surprised at how well they accommodated my need for a gluten-free meal.
I knew that Five Guys was able to prepare gluten-free burgers, but since I hadn't ever been there before, I didn't know the drill. When we approached the counter, I explained to the cashier that I was gluten-free and asked if they could prepare my food safely. He confidently explained that yes, they could accommodate gluten-free diners, and that I had my choice of having the burger on lettuce (in which case they'd clean and sanitize the grill before preparing my food) or having the burger bun- and lettuce-free and prepared in a small, single-use metal tray so it wouldn't touch any gluten-containing food. I elected to have the burger prepared in the metal tray. They cooked my burger toppings right with my burger in the tray, so I knew that they'd be safe, too.
I then asked about the fries--the cashier said those, too, were gluten-free. Score! My boyfriend ordered his gluten-containing food, and then we went to get sodas. My boyfriend, who is well aware of the challenges facing gluten-free diners, looked at the plastic cutlery by the soda machines and noticed that their containers also held lots of crumbs. Yikes! I didn't feel good about taking cutlery from that container, but I knew I'd need to cut my burger up, since it was literally meat with onions on top of it and there was no way I could eat that without silverware. I immediately started worrying that if I went up to the counter and explained that I would really like for them to fish a fresh knife and fork out of new cutlery boxes in the back, I'd look like a total priss...
But it turns out I didn't need to worry. When I was handed my food, I peered into the bag and was delighted to see a fresh knife and fork on top of my burger container. Yay! Crisis averted!
Boyfriend and I sat down to eat our dinner. He had a delicious-looking burger in a bun, but I wasn't coveting his food too much because my food looked equally good! My burger consisted of two hamburger patties with grilled onions. We also got regular-sized fries to share--it's definitely enough for two people. All the food was hot and delicious, and it passed my personal "Will I go back to this place?" test--24 hours after eating the food, I still felt absolutely fine. (Usually it takes me about 24 hours to feel the effects of an accidental glutening.)
I was very pleased with my experience at Five Guys, as was my boyfriend--I always like feeling confident that I can have a yummy and safe gluten-free meal, and Five Guys really did it right. My one and only suggestion: If you and a non-gluten-free person go there and split fries, ask for the fries to come in a separate bag. They'd put the fries in my boyfriend's bag of food, and of course it's not a good idea to have the shared fries anywhere near glutenous food. It ended up not being a problem--I gave him all the fries that had spilled out of the fry cup as well as all the ones on the top of the fry cup so that I was just eating the ones in the bottom of the cup, which were less likely to have touched any glutenous food. I didn't get ill, so obviously that tactic worked...but now that I have had this experience, I'll be asking for a separate bag for the fries from now on.