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Shake Shack, first vist, won't be the last

I've lived in the NY area for 12 years now and I can't believe I have never been to Shake Shack, despite all the positive reviews. Anyway the wife and I and my adult daughter had lunch in the UWS location a few weekends ago. We got there pretty early (11:30 ish), which was a good thing, because by the time we left the lines were very long.

Now for the food. We each had a Shackburger (single) and shared an order of fries. Wow, really great. Not sure if it was the best burger I have ever had (would have to sit down with a Burger Joint burger, a Five Guys and a Boom Burger for a taste test), but it was absolutely one of the best. The bun was amazing; so fresh. And the burger was wonderful; very moist and flavorful. I would say the fries (which were salted after being cooked) were some of the best I have ever had. So lunch for 3 with a large soda was roughly $20. Good cheap eats.

I love the fact that you get a beeper when you place your order and can just wander around until it vibrates. The only slight negative is the lack of seating (we did manage to snag a table). But in nice weather I would just take the food out and sit on a bench around the museum.

Really enjoyed this place and will definitely return.

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  1. We love Shake Shack too. We've also found that other than going early, going late works as well. We last went after 2 and it was fine.

    Also, did you check downstairs? There's a whole room of seating (unless it's booked for a party). Not nearly as nice as by the windows upstairs, but it works if it's cold outside.

    The only thing we don't like -- their wine is simply awful. Tried both red and white. Ick. But I finally tried one of their Shackmeister beers (out at new-Shea) and really liked it. And I'm quite picky about beers too.

    1 Reply
    1. re: LNG212

      They were having a party downstairs that day. Having bad wine doesn't bother me. I generally pair my burger with a diet coke (although a really good cold beer sounds pretty good too).

    2. i'm glad you liked it. i've long been a fan, but i've found that every time i've gone recently (to the UWS location) the burger has been overcooked, dried out and disappointing. i like it too much to give up entirely just yet. and the lack of seating (and aggressive jockeying for seating) is totally a negative when the weather makes the park unappealing.

      1. I'm not a big fan of Shake Shack, I think Burger Joint is a much tastier burger.

        However, to make Shake Shack work, you need to get the double patty, not the single. I don't know why, perhaps they cook them together.

        BTW, Burger Joint has had a bunch of new staff in there, and the burgers have suffered: when it's near busy, they are premaking burgers and fries and dispensing from already cooked inventory. Uh uh, not good.

        15 Replies
        1. re: acidity

          So Burger Joint is much tastier, or they are selling crap now? Which is it? I love Burger Joint (haven't been there in quite a while). Would have to do a blind taste testing though.

          1. re: bnemes3343

            it'd be pretty impossible to do a blind taste test unless the judges had never had either burger. even then, it's not really fair because they truly are different burgers. burger joint grills a well seasoned, thick paddy over an open flame. they char the outside while cooking the middle to order (from rare to well done). they also use two different cheeses which makes a great blend (anyone know what these are, btw?). shake shack on the other hand fries their smaller, well seasoned, thin paddies.

            i'm a devotee of both, but only go when i'm craving a certain meal. shake shack is the platonic ideal of a childhood burger -- perfectly "light" and greasy which you can scarf down in a few bites. the best "fast food" you'll ever have this side of an in and out burger. burger joint is the platonic ideal of a childhood bar-b-q -- big, meaty, charred burgers served in a smokey room.

            in case you haven't seen it, the new york times just did a write up of a few new places. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/15/din... anyone tried them yet?

            1. re: lawstud

              It's been quite a while since I had a burger at BJ. I know I really enjoyed it, as I did the burger from SS. Wouldn't really be a blind taste test, but just like to have them side by side to see which one I enjoyed more. I'd start at BJ, scarf down a burger and then head uptown to do the same at SS. I'm fairly certain I liked the fries at SS much more than BJ. And as slob points out, the seating situation at BJ is even worse than SS. Of course, neither burger is as good as the Boom Burger in Belmar...

              1. re: lawstud

                Are you saying that in and out is better than shake shack?
                I am kind of wondering what others think because I completely disagree but it seems that so many people swear by in and out.

                1. re: ian9139

                  Given that you have to travel about 3,000 miles for an In and Out Burger, isn't the comparison to BJ and SS kind of irrelevant?

                  1. re: bnemes3343

                    Well should people visiting from California visit Shake Shack? I would say we should show it off, but others might says its worthless because in n out is better or just as good.

                    1. re: ian9139

                      I'm from CA originally and I don't think you can really compare the two. Shake Shack is not fast food, and the ingredient quality is pretty high. They put a lot of care into their food. In'n'Out is excellent for fast food, but it's still fast food. It's also cheaper than the Shack and ubiquitous in CA, hence, a lot of diehard fans rub it in that we don't have In'n'Out in NYC.

                      1. re: ian9139

                        Lived in CA for many years. In n Out is a good fast-food burger. Imho, it is not in the same league as Shake Shack.

                    2. re: ian9139

                      I disagree -- shake shack is indeed fast food, just extremely high quality fast food. In and out also has a high quality of ingredients and a similar vibe.

                      I'd bring someone from the west to Shake Shack even knowing they'd still swear by In and Out. I think they'd be wrong, but that's my east coast bias. :-)

                  2. re: bnemes3343

                    I didn't think the Burger Joint was all that special when I had it in December 2008. Average taste. Watery milkshake that had been sitting in a blender for a long time made ahead of time. I liked the fries though. But the burger was just average. Not great. Not bad. Just middle of the road.

                    And the seating situation isn't very good either. It's a very small room and people stand right over the top of you waiting to jump on your table the minute you show any signs of being finished. Reach for a napkin to dab the corner of your mouth, and you will have a vulture swooping in asking if you're done.

                  3. re: acidity

                    About 3 months ago, I was disappointed with my burger at Buger Joint. Imho, it was nothing special and doesn't approach the tastiness and quality of Shake Shack (have been to Madison Sq Park location only).

                    1. re: RCC

                      My goal in posting: so people who share my taste can rely on my reports. I am not here to disagree as to "change your mind" nor to refute, but to offer perhaps a different opinion and describe it with enough clarity that it rises to the level of advice rather than simply "survey says".

                      Burger Joint burgers use meat that tastes beefy, a minimum requirement, and the way they grill can keep the center rare and still achieves a pleasing "greasy char" on the outside that to me defines a burger. I don't want a burger that is medium, nor that tastes like bone marrow, nor like veal, nor like filet mignon, nor like ground beef with a suntan.

                      Shake Shack burgers taste boring to me (good enough meat but somehow in the suntan category, not the realm of char. Burger Joint burgers do, and that's what I look for.

                      The best Shake Shack burgers I've had are consistently the doubles. I don't like the Shack fries.

                      Burger Joint has recently served up some "eh" burgers to me, where for years they never have before. So, we'll just have to see. BJ fries I like when they are hot, but they tend to pre-bag them too much.

                      1. re: acidity

                        I'm curious if SS and BJ are supposed to be the same kind of burger though. I really didn't care for my burger at BJ back in August, in fact I went twice {we were staying at the Parker} and they were both bad. Now, I've heard many wonderful things about Shake Shack, but with some many comparing them, I'm afraid I'm not going to like the style of burger there either. BJ was too charred and tasted a bit like lighter fluid and the fries were soggy too.

                        1. re: KateMW

                          Burgerwise, they are in the same school ("medium size, quality meat that can be eaten quite rare") but BJ goes for a thicker patty that cooks the burger I look for. I like the char that you don't, so long as the inside is still bloody. SS tends to give me a mushier inside, and no char on the out.

                          BJ fries are excellent ... when they are straight from the fryer. Too often they are not, so I can understand that objection. But, they do make them frequently when busy. SS's cheesey fries are not at all what I look for, terrible by design, disgusting

                          1. re: acidity

                            With my 2 times at BJ and countless at SS, there's now way that I'd say that BJ's patty is thicker nor near the same size as SS. SS is bigger and much more the quality meat. BJ is simply regular burger meat, afaict.

                  4. "The bun was amazing; so fresh. "

                    I have some great news for you - those buns are Martin's Potato Rolls, available at hundreds of supermarkets in the Tri-State area.

                    http://burgerclubny.blogspot.com/2008...

                    http://hamburgeramerica.blogspot.com/...

                    http://aht.seriouseats.com/archives/2...

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Bob Martinez

                      Yup, that doesn't surprise me. I love Martin's Potato Rolls. These just seemed fresher than what I generally come across in the grocery store.

                      1. re: bnemes3343

                        "These just seemed fresher than what I generally come across in the grocery store."

                        That's the Danny Meyer pixie dust. I've found that if I buy Martin's on the day they're delivered to the supermarket they stay pristinely fresh in a tightly sealed bag for at least 3 days. For a week after that they're still very good. The larger Big Marty's sesame seeded rolls work great for sandwiches and for grilling larger burgers outdoors.

                        1. re: Bob Martinez

                          Pixie dust AND a hot buttered potato roll? Delicious! I'll take two. :)

                    2. Its just over a month since we returned from holiday to NY and I still DREAM of the fantastic burger and shake I had at shake shack. I seriously wish they'd open one at London!!!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: iheartcupcakes

                        We went to lots of places to eat (e.g. GT, the London) in NYC over Christmas, but our visit to Shake Shack was also memorable. My wife had a Shroom Burger and swears it is the best 'burger' she has ever had. I guess the Shack inches BJ through it's variety as well as anything (e.g. Shroom Burger etc), but if you're not getting to go and you end up sat downstairs @ UWS, you do feel like you're in a badly lit McDs...

                      2. I know most discussion here is about the burger, but I have to say that they make the BEST chocolate shake in the world. Thick and rich and I waiver between not being able to suck it down fast enough and wanting to savor it :-)

                        It's a perfect treat if you happen to wander by and the line is short. And the perfect foil to the burger, of course. Sweet and savory triumph!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: piegirl74

                          I have to put a vote in for the shakes also! I recently had one of their daily specials - a "nutter butter" peanut butter concoction. It was awesome. It had a great balance of salty and sweet.