From 2002 until 2007, I lived in Northern Virginia, birthplace of Five Guys, the burger franchise that’s been taking the rest of the United States and parts of the world by storm. When I tried my first Five Guys burger, they were strictly a Northern Virginia/Washington, DC enterprise, having been founded there in 1986 by Jerry and Janie Murrell and their then four sons (a fifth was later born and is involved in the business, too). I remember being flabbergasted by how good and how messy they were. We became fans.
The things we’ll go through for good burgers…
I was born and raised in Virginia, and lived in Northern Virginia for two years after my dad retired from the Air Force. My parents lived in NoVA long before Five Guys existed, so I never got to try it when it was still brand new. In 2002, I married my husband, Bill, and the following year, we moved to Fort Belvoir, Virginia. We had several Five Guys locations near us. I remember quite clearly at that time, the Murrells swore they would never franchise. They wanted to maintain strict control of their product, which was always selling like gangbusters in their no frills locations scattered around the D.C. area.
In 2007, we moved to Germany the first time, and while we were gone, somehow the decision not to franchise was overturned. By the time we came back in 2009, there were locations all over the place. Back in 2016, Germany got its very first Five Guys location in the heart of Frankfurt.
I remember being excited to hear about the new Five Guys in Germany, especially since they announced plans to expand throughout the country. As many of my fellow Americans may have discovered, despite giving the hamburger its name, Germans can’t seem to get them quite right. I have noticed that some places are doing better, though. I mean, having moved back to Germany in 2014, I notice that more places are offering better burgers made with real beef. Still, I have been missing American style cheeseburgers. Yes, we can make them at home, but there’s something special about a really juicy, messy burger that’s been squashed into a foil wrapper.
Until the end of last month, we were living near Stuttgart. A road trip to Frankfurt from Stuttgart certainly isn’t out of the question. On a good day, the drive is about three hours on the Autobahn. Nevertheless, we never managed to get to the Five Guys when we were living in the Stuttgart area. We did go to one in Glasgow, Scotland, and it was a little disappointing. The burger tasted fine, but the cheese wasn’t melted. That was a huge turnoff. I can’t abide unmelted cheese on a burger!
Anyway, now that we live in Wiesbaden, we’re within striking distance of Frankfurt and its many restaurants and varied cuisines. Today, since I’ve been cooped up in the house entirely too much this month, we decided to go to Frankfurt and hunt down some Five Guys burgers.
Originally, we planned to take my car, a 2009 Mini Cooper that we bought in Stuttgart as we were leaving the first time. In nine years, I’ve managed to rack up a pitiful 35,000 miles on the odometer, so we try to drive it as much as we can on the weekends and trips that don’t involve bringing our dogs. Unfortunately, the engine refused to turn over. In nine years, we’ve also never changed the battery. Guess fixing that’s on the agenda this week.
We took the other car, our 2006 Toyota RAV 4, which we hope to soon retire. This was our very first trip within Frankfurt itself. Prior to today, we’d been to the train station and the airport. That’s it.
A fine landmark. Just after we passed it, Bill tried to turn right into traffic going the opposite direction. Fortunately, they were stopped at a light and he managed to correct his error before we got creamed. Then we found a parking garage, where we were in good company with lots of others seeking parking today.
The air was heavy with the aroma of curry wurst and the sounds of people rushing around, shopping at high end retail stores. The weather was kind of grim and depressing, which didn’t really make me want to explore. Frankfurt is the land of big business, banks, and people with lots of money. I haven’t seen much of it, but it doesn’t appear to be a particularly picturesque town.
It definitely has a different feel than Stuttgart has. I was reminded a little of Washington, D.C.
We spotted the big church located right next to the Five Guys, but still had to wander around a bit before we finally saw the magic sign. It was about 1:30pm…
But it was packed, and there was nowhere to sit. Actually, this was a lot less busy than it was a couple of hours later, when we decided to come back.
The Five Guys was full of people at 1:30pm. I started inwardly berating myself for wanting to stand in line for burgers I’ve had a bunch of times. I told Bill we should go look for another place to have lunch. Bill had to pee like a racehorse, so he was eager to find a place quickly.
We walked out of the big Walkplatz where Five Guys in Frankfurt is. This looked interesting, but we needed to find a place for Bill…
I wasn’t really wanting German food, but Bill was eager to relieve himself. A friendly waiter beckoned us, so we went in. The inside of Conrad’s is very small and rather poorly laid out. There are several very large booths and the tables are close together. There’s not much of an aisle for people to walk through, either. At one point, Bill and another man had to get out of their seats to allow a woman and her stroller to pass.
Conrad seems to specialize in Schnitzels, though they offer other stuff like steaks, sausages, and breakfast. The restaurant has a full bar, video gambling, and flatscreen TVs tuned to sports. There’s also really shitty pop music on blast. Seriously, the music really got on my nerves.
Bill looks at the menu…
He decided on a Paprika Schnitzel, which was a pork schnitzel with a pepper, tomato, and onion sauce. It was served with fries, but you could also substitute country style or mashed potatoes. You could also have veal or turkey schnitzel for a small upcharge.
I went with the Mozzarella Schnitzel. It was a pork schnitzel with fresh tomatoes covered with mozzarella cheese and baked. I don’t actually like schnitzels that much. They’re usually too much for me to eat. Today’s was no exception, although it tasted fine. I only finished half of this one and its accompanying fries. However, I did appreciate that Conrad’s offered several different kinds of schnitzel, which puts them ahead of any other place where I’ve seen them offered.
Conrad’s doesn’t exactly get the best reviews on Google
or Trip Advisor
. I wouldn’t be as harsh as some other reviewers have been. The schnitzels were hot, fresh, and served with a smile. The fries weren’t that great, but they weren’t terrible. I thought of Conrad’s as a perfectly average restaurant until it came time to use the restroom. There, stationed on a little stool in the tiny area near the toilets was a woman with a plate. She was collecting change from people wanting to use the bathroom.
At first, I thought maybe this was just for people coming in off the street. I’ve seen some places put out plates for people who really need to use the bathroom but don’t want to eat. That might have been the case at Conrad’s, too. But I didn’t see a sign or anything indicating that the Klofrau was only charging people who weren’t eating or drinking. I find being asked to pay a Klofrau very tacky in a restaurant. I mind it only slightly less at truck stops. On the other hand, I’m sure the Klofrau discourages people from taking advantage of the restaurant’s prime location.
Anyway… I don’t think we’ll go back to Conrad’s… but it wasn’t a disastrous meal. The food wasn’t terrible or overpriced. It was just profoundly mediocre. You can make reservations on OpenTable, too.
The outside of Conrad’s.
While we were eating our schnitzels, it occurred to me that Five Guys will probably always be packed. And I didn’t really want to come back to Frankfurt to do this again… at least not while the weather is so cold, damp, and depressing. Maybe we’ll brave it again when the sun stays out longer than six or seven hours a day. So, although we ate schnitzels and I wasn’t even able to finish mine, we decided to pick up a couple of burgers to go.
This was what it was looking like at about 3:00pm. The second photo was taken about twenty minutes later. People were actually standing outside the automated doors. Good thing they don’t take a pause and are open every day.
Bill went in to get a couple of burgers, sans our usual fries. I waited outside and played Evil Apples. About thirty minutes later, he came out with our burgers. He said the music at Five Guys was a lot better than it was at Conrad’s. They were playing awesome classic rock by Rush, the Outfield, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. They also have free peanuts, just like the Five Guys restaurants in the States.
You can fill your bike tires with air while you eat burgers.
We made our way back to the car. I took note of the energy in Frankfurt.
Teens were dancing in the square.
I notice there are even more signs in English in Frankfurt than there are in Stuttgart. It’s a very international city. Even our trash bins have directions in English on them.
And big ass buildings, too! I’m sure Frankfurt has a charming area somewhere. We’ll find it eventually. As we passed through this intersection, we found ourselves on the gambling and sex street, very close to the train station.
They look like the American style Five Guys burgers.
Right down to being smashed into foil.
I did taste my burger before wrapping it up for later, when my schnitzel has been digested and I have more room to enjoy it. I’m happy to report that it tastes almost just like it does in the States. It’s juicy, and the beef is very flavorful. The only difference I noticed are the pickles, which are a little bit sweeter than what we get in the U.S. But then, Germans seem to like their pickles sweeter. It would have been nice to eat it while it was piping hot, but I think it’ll be fine in awhile. It wouldn’t be the first time we saved a Five Guys burger for later.
I’d go back, although not anytime soon. I definitely don’t need a Five Guys location near me, but it’s nice to have one. Do you need to drive here from another German city like Stuttgart? I’d say it depends on how much you like Five Guys burgers. Stuttgart has a few places that are getting pretty good at making decent burgers. Your mileage may vary, of course.
Next stop… Hooters? Maybe not.