COSTA MESA — When Five Guys Burgers and Fries opened for business Tuesday, local resident Scott King stopped in for lunch.
King lives within walking distance of the Costa Mesa Square shopping center on Harbor Boulevard near Baker Street — the frontline in the area's emerging burger wars.
"I came just because the big hoopla," King said, clutching a takeout bag marked by grease spots.
It was King's first time at Five Guys, and off the bat there was one thing didn't impress him.
"It's a little over-priced," King said. "So I guess I'll just go home and see if it's worth it."
The Virginia-based Five Guys chain, which has opened several eateries throughout Orange County this year, is the newest burger joint on Harbor Boulevard.
A second In-N-Out Burger in Costa Mesa recently opened on Harbor near the San Diego (405) Freeway offramp. A Sonic is on the way across from Five Guys, replacing a Long John Silver's. McDonald's is just down the street, as are other major fast-food chains.
Five Guys, which opened at 11 a.m. in the center anchored by Target, had a line wrapping around the register and stretching nearly out the door at 1:30 p.m. Diners clamored inside the former Baja Fresh Mexican Grill location, which is now dressed in Five Guys' signature red-and-white motif.
The first customers seemed pleased.
"The meat is fresh and it's hand-patted like a homemade burger," said John Heinmann, who has also tried Five Guys in Washington, D.C. "I'm a total In-N-Out fan, but this rocks."
While many customers praised the taste of Five Guys' burgers, which can be ordered in thousands of topping combinations, some were discouraged by the price, which averages $6 for a burger with just basic toppings.
"I think that there may be too many burger places in a little area — but then again, they're different flavors," said Costa Mesa resident Jamie Irvine. "Maybe the different burgers cater to different people."