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Shake Shack UWS vs. Five Guys vs. McDonald's

I have been chastised by no less than Jeff Leff himself for refusing to give "fast food" style burgers their due in terms of deliciousness. I recant. It is a genre worth seeking out. At the risk of incurring further wrath of fellow chowhounders, I compared a Shake Shack (no waiting) double cheeseburger to a Five Guys (Bleecker Street location) double cheeseburger to a McDonald's triple (bypass?) cheeseburger. My ranking:

1. Five Guys-sloppy delicious mess
2. McDonald's-two triple cheeseburgers for $3 (actually $4 in Manhattan) was a sentimental journey and I didn't have to eat again for a week
3. Shack-I still don't get it.

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  1. the five guys near me is delicious. i don't think they're cheap and the fries have no small option which would be annoying if you weren't there in a group and i certainly know that some franchises aren't as good as others but i am an unabashed five guys supporter. the burgers are pure comfort.

    1. I don't think I could handle a McDOnald's triple cheeseburger. the smaller ones are okay b/c you just taste ketchup and pickles. once you start to taste the meat it goes way down hill. I also don't get five guys at all. i've only been to the one on 56th in midtown, but it just stated like run of the mill fast food. the meat quality is def better at shake shack. I think that puts it ahead of the others for me (I've never been toh te UWS one but I can't imagine they're THAT different from each other)

      1. Different taste buds, I guess. I haven't been to the UWS location, but the original Shake Shack's burger is by far my favorite in the city. Five Guys doesn't really come close to me. And, how you can compare McDonald's--which is made from scraps of hormone-filled beef dregs--to Shake Shack, is beyond me.

        1. I meant JIM Leff, not Jeff. Boy, now I'm reallly in the doghouse ;).

          1. No disrespect at all, because you know I love your reviews, but you really can't taste the difference in quality between Shack meat and a processed McDonald's patty?

            6 Replies
            1. re: a_and_w

              i agree that there's a huge difference between the two (McDs and SS) at even the UWS location which I have been to 4 times. the meat is good despite my complete disgust with the obvious 'slowness' of the ONE OR TWO order takers which just so happens to create the long lines.

              1. re: nativeNYer

                McDonalds better than Shake Shack??!!...LAUGHABLE....that assertion invalides all of your good work here...just kidding, but seek therapy immediately...

                1. re: Cpalms

                  hey cpalms. W-W-W-Was this message intended for guttergourmet? I-I-I-I I said SS was better. [tremble. tremble].

                  1. re: nativeNYer

                    Hey Native, I was refering to GG...im still astonished by the comments on the thread

                2. re: nativeNYer

                  Agree with NNYer. Both SS (only been to MSP location, but many times) and 5G are very tasty quality burgers that are juicy as heck. McD burgers aren't even in the same league--there is no remote possibility that a McD burger will be rare, or juicy. The OP has no credibility in my eyes. Seems to be a personal issue with SS that has nothing to do with burger quality. (I say this for any casual reader who might be put off from trying the Shack!)

                  1. re: drmoze

                    i think i will take a photo of a side by side comparison of a shake shack single and a McD quarter pounder. although this will be a non-shocker for most, i'll bet the visual will be worse than we think. i gotta do this one day when i'm feeling more crazy than usual.

              2. I also don't get SS. I live across the street and have eaten many SS burgers. They are OK. A burger at the Empire dinner (twice the price) is far superior. I think that SS has a certain snob appeal because of its owners provenance. Otherwise how do you explain it?

                8 Replies
                1. re: odaddyo

                  I think its the total package at SS. For one thing, SS seasons their meat resulting in a flavorful patty. The Yukon gold fries are a bit different. And the custard shakes are very very good. 5 guys doesn't season the patty. I do like 5 guys though, but I wish they seasoned the patty a bit. I don't really understand why McD is even in this comparsion list. Burger Joint would have been better to compare than McDs. Sorry, but I wouldn't touch a McDs burger if it were the last one on earth.

                  1. re: Ora

                    I'm with you on the seasoning. SS also uses fatty brisket in the meat mix, which gives the patty a nice crisp exterior. But comparing Burger Joint to McDonald's makes even less sense to me. At BJ, you can specify how well done you want your patty. That's not true of either SS or McDonald's.

                    1. re: a_and_w

                      My point was that McDs should not be on the comparison list at all, and rather Burger Joint should have been the third comparator. I think you misunderstood a portion of the comment.

                      1. re: Ora

                        Me fail English? That's unpossible! Sorry for the confusion Ora...I agree on all counts.

                  2. re: odaddyo

                    Or maybe people actually like the burgers? Obviously, they must be doing something right, or you wouldn't have bothered eating those "many SS burgers."

                    1. re: a_and_w

                      I actually like the burgers, and think they are better than McDonald's. I've not tried Five Guys .... My enjoyment of the Shake Shack burgers has nothing to do with snob appeal, though it's possible that it has something to do with enjoying eating outside on a Saturday morning with my husband and dog in Madison Square Park.

                    2. re: odaddyo

                      I don't know what Empire Diner's burgers are like. But I'm thinking that they are probably larger, thicker 1/2 pounders. So perhaps you just don't like Shake Shack because they are a different style than what you prefer. Shake Shack burgers are a lot smaller and compact.

                      But I definitely think that SS's fries are overrated. I think part of the reason may be the yukon gold potatoes (more of a fan of Idaho for fries). And I think another component may be that the fries are frozen.

                      1. re: odaddyo

                        Ditto the other sentiments. I love the fatty, flavorful, perfectly-sized (for me) burger. It has nothing to do w/ "snob appeal" or "owners [sic] provenance," whatever that last comment was supposed to mean.

                      2. I guess it is possible to not get Shake Shack but what I really don't get are these trumpeted pub burgers that are a 1/2 lb chunk of flavorless meat, Donovan's et al. Seriously though, what is not to get about Shake Shack (original MP location)? They have the perfect size burger that is well seasoned on a fantastic bun. There is nothing more puzzling to me than the Shake Shack haters.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: eca

                          i agree with you, eca, completely. molly's on 2nd ave. is supposed to have great burgers.
                          i thought it was huge but flavorless, much like the other pub burgers i've tasted over the years. the SS hype doesn't sway me one way or the other. the burger is just really good.