Having grown up in Southern California I've had my fill of excellent burgers. In-n-Out, Tommy's, Apple Pan (the restaurant Johnny Rockets knocked off, but minus the charm). Car culture allowed drive-ups to proliferate and LA was car culture central.
On the East Coast I have yet to find a better burger. Sure we've got Boloud and Bouley (and now Michael Mina's American Kobe burger), but local burger places are awful. One place that's heavily mentioned is Jack's Old Fashioned Hamburger in Ft. Lauderdale. The place is old and hasn't been kept up so the charm is gone. As for the burgers themselves, well, when you order one you get a plastic baggie with lettuce and tomato to use as you wish when preparing your burger. Very sterile. So South Florida has given us Jack's and In-n-Out and Southern Cal gave us In-n-Out. Edge to Southern Cal.
But one place looking to bring some of that squeaky clean, fresh to order burger experience recently landed at the Shops at Midtown. Five Guys Famous Burgers and Fries is an East Coast creation from Virginia. Upon entering you'll be greeted with an unintelligible greeting that I still haven't figured out. Make your way past the boxes of potatoes that act as line barriers to the counter and check out the menu. It's extremely simple which is a good sign. You either get a regular burger (two patties), a little burger (one patty), or a hot dog. As for toppings, the only ones that are extra are cheese and/or bacon. All other toppings, including freshly thin-sliced jalapenos, and the usual lettuce, tomato, etc. are free. French fries are made with fresh sliced potatoes (look for the wipey board stating the provenance of that day's spuds), fried in peanut oil and topped with just salt or cajun seasoning.
The quality of the burgers are excellent. Patties are fresh, not frozen. Toppings are fresh and clean. The bun is a little dense (especially when compared to the sponge bun at In-n-Out) but you'll need it to hold in the burger and toppings. The quality of the fries has differed on occassion. One time they were undercooked and a little raw in the middle, but most times they've been well done. The restaurant itself doesn't have much of an atmosphere and I find it a little dark. However, I recommend eating in house since taking them to go will result wilted toppings and fries that are steamed from their own residual heat. Plus the place has malt vinegar, perfect for fresh cut, peanut oil-fried french fries.
Whether Five Guys could hold its own in Southern Cal I'm not sure. But given the dearth of competition here it should do well. A second Miami location will be opening soon in Kendall Village.