Beyond the Rhetoric


Shake Shack, Madison Square Park, New York

October 7th, 2013 by
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Shake Shack, Madison Square Park, New York City

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.

There are actually several Shake Shack locations in New York, as well as in other cities across the United States and internationally in London, Instanbul, Moscow and the Middle East. For our first Shake Shack experience, we went to the original location in Madison Square Park in the Flatiron District of Manhattan. Well, it’s not completely fair to say that this is the “original” location, because Shake Shack actually got its start as a hot dog cart. The permanent structure that sits there didn’t open until 2004.

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.

Shake Shack, Madison Square Park, New York City

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.

Shake Shack, Madison Square Park, New York City

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.

Shake Shack, Madison Square Park, New York City

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.

Shake Shack, Madison Square Park, New York City

Shake Shack on Urbanspoon

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.

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3 Responses to “Shake Shack, Madison Square Park, New York”

  1. hungrySLIF says:

    New Yorkers like to wait in line. It’s a fact. I have no idea how they can afford to live in New York if they have all that time to just wait in line for a burger… or a really expensive donut…

    At least we know the people in Portland are unemployed when they line up for stuff…

    I never got a chance to experience the line-up myself. We went by MSP at 1030PM when there was nary a lineup (and the lights looked extra awesome), then visited the UWS location the next day, with a minimal lineup (no longer than what you’d find at McDonalds in Kerrisdale at 3PM) – but yeah, the double-Shack is worth the hype… and that’s about it.

    • Michael Kwan says:

      Maybe we just went at the wrong time then. I’d wait 15 minutes for this again, but I’m not sure I’d wait almost an hour again.

      • Ray Ebersole says:

        I just wouldn’t wait that long in line for anything. Well, except for rides at Disney for my kids, they are the only reason I would.

        As for the price and whether it’s worth it, I have to disagree. I can get 2 dollar menu sandwiches, fries and drink for $4.28 at McDonald’s three times for the $15 you paid and be back doing something else in that time frame. Plus, I don’t have a problem eating McDonald’s, no matter what anyone says.

        I worked for them for 14 years and know that the quality of the food is not as bad as people who bad mouth it. Please don’t tell me it isn’t healthy or that the guy did the movie Super Size it because you can’t eat it as your only diet food for every meal everyday. That is just foolish, anyone that thinks that doesn’t have a grasp of how to eat properly. I visit McDonald’s once or twice a month nowadays for a meal, but more often for the dollar large coffee.

        While it might be nice as a tourist visit, it wouldn’t be a must stop if I had to wait an hour to eat. I didn’t wait at Pat’s in Philly and I lived there and ate at Pat’s more than I can count or remember. You want a cheese steak, go to Pat’s, but don’t wait more than 10 minutes.

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