I am generally prepared to not be so wild about places that receive a huge amount of hype; as an example, I found Umami Burger to be……..something worth laughing about.
And when citiy’s make their “best of the best” list, those are always awful, like Stanich’s in Portland, or Port of Call in New Orleans.
Around the year 2000, New York acclaimed chef Danny Meyer, owner of restaurants including Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, Blue Smoke and Jazz Standard, The Modern, Cafe 2 and Terrace 5 at MoMA and others, started fooling around with burgers from a trailer in a NY park, using high quality ingredients, and cooked to order burgers and fries. Today there are about 50 Shake Shacks in the US, and another dozen overseas, with the promise of “up to 450” coming.
In physical appearance, the burger looks like an offering from In N Out (another place I think is high-overrated, and I don’t get it), but the similarity ends there.
Meyer sourced his ground beef from the best burger meat company in the world, Pat LaFrieda, and the fresh, soft (but supportive) potato buns are from Martin’s. Fresh chopped condiments are good and crisp.
The burger patty is thin, smashed, and crispy around the edges which is perfect for my personal tastes, and the meat has flavor all on it’s own, and to me, that’s how I judge a great burger.
The Shackburger (see complete menu) is a cheeseburger topped with lettuce, tomato, and Shack Sauce. When questioned about the latter, the countr person said “it’s our own, house-made, spicy mayo.” What a great answer, huh? And it was tasty.
Crinkle cut fries are the side, and there were apparently complaints early in the chain’s life about their quality, so they went to a fresh cut, cooked to order fry. They’re fine, not spectacular, but adequate as an accompaniment to the star of the show.
The group is off to a hot start, did a monster IPO this year, and clearly shows how they stand out from segment leader McDonalds; the average per store annual sales for a Shake Shack location is nearly $4,000,000 – which is about twice what the average McDonald’s takes in.
BTW, this downtown Chicago location was totally jammed, but the wait to order and get your food goes fairly fast. Single burger around $6.00.