Shake Shack, Madison Square Park, New YorkOctober 7th, 2013 by Michael Kwan
There is so much more to the so-called “fast food burger” than the golden arches. Here in Vancouver, while you will spend a little bit more than McDonald’s, you can get a far better burger at somewhere like Vera’s or Splitz. I’m personally a big fan of Five Guys, but when I was in New York last month, I was told that I could not leave the town without indulging in a burger at Shake Shack.
It’s open from 11 in the morning until 11 at night, and you can fully expect to encounter a sizable lineup regardless of the hour of day. We arrived in the early afternoon and were faced with about a 45-minute wait. The good news was that we were in the middle of an urban park, so the trees provided a little bit of shade. While we waited, we were handed the menu so we’d be prepared to order by the time we got to the window.
You can click on the above image of the menu to view a higher resolution version. As you’d suspect, Shake Shack largely specializes in burgers and shakes, but you can also get hot dogs, fries, frozen custard, beer, wine and even treats for your dog.
Eventually, we got to the window, placed our order, and were provided with a number. It looked like another line to pick up our order, but it was more of an organized chaos in front of the pickup window. Off to the side, there’s a small condiment cart for ketchup, napkins and the rest of it.
For my lunch, I decided on a double ShackBurger, which has two patties topped with cheese, lettuce, tomato and ShackSauce. I also got an order of fries and a peanut butter shake. There is no “combo” pricing, so you will be paying for each of these items individually. I was disappointed with the size of the shake, especially since it was $5, but it was a pretty good milkshake. The fries reminded me of a crunchier version of what you’d get at Church’s Chicken.
Of course, the real star attraction was the burger itself. I know. I doesn’t look like much. It looks like it could just as easily be served at any old fast food outlet, but pictures really don’t do it justice. The ShackBurger is cooked medium and is incredibly juicy. It helps that there are no hormones and no antibiotics in the 100% all-natural Angus beef. There’s just the right blend in there, offering plenty of beefy flavor. I am glad I went with the double-patty, though, as a single patty may not have cut the mustard.
This is certainly a different breed from the $60 foie gras burger I had several years back, but the burger itself is easily one of the best that I’ve had and that includes Five Guys. Yes, it’s still “just a burger,” but it’s a damn good burger.
I did have to wait almost an hour before I was fed and my “fast food” meal came to about $15, but if you do find yourself near a Shake Shack, I do highly recommend it. The shake and fries weren’t great, but the burger sure was. And despite having such a long lineup, finding a table in the al fresco dining area was surprisingly easy. I wonder if other locations outside of New York are as good. I did spot one in Miami last week and there was nary a lineup at all.