HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >

Discussion

Worth the wait?

  • 64
  • Share

Is Shake Shack really worth the wait? We have been to NY two times now and always skip it because of the lines. Is it worth our time? Really, what is so special about this burger. I have had Five Guys Burgers and heard those were all the rage and when I finally had one it was horrible.

-----
Shake Shack
Madison Ave and E 23rd St, New York, NY 10010

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
Posting Guidelines | FAQs | Feedback
Cancel
  1. i dont think it is. i like the shake stack burger and the cheese fries a lot though. but if u really dont want to wait why dont u go to the UWS location

    3 Replies
    1. re: daffyduck

      Is it just as good? Just wonder why this is the busy one. Location?

      1. re: dezineliz

        Location. Both in the fact that is it centralized, lots more tourists near Madison Sq. Park than the UWS and that it is an outdoor eating place, so once the weather turns nice, the lines become exponentially longer.

        1. re: dezineliz

          the UWS location is just as good and it's totally worth it. you gotta try it to know.

      2. 20 minutes would be my max worth-the-wait time at SS. I've always queued up with a company or 2, so boredom seldom hits. I can't imagine waiting there 20 minutes by myself. On a nice day, it's a great outdoors place to be at and enjoy some good food. We go before 6 pm for dinner and at 1130ish for lunch.

        1. Shake Shack is a great burger but I would never wait more than 15-20 minutes.

          -----
          Shake Shack
          Madison Ave and E 23rd St, New York, NY 10010

          1. It's a poor value, and comes down to your own preference for a burger, but it's not the best burger in the city by a long shot.

            Visit Shakeshack.com and look at the pictures. They're very accurate, and not at all glossed up. If that resembles your idea of a delicious burger, and prefer the style of fast cooked burger, which is thinner, almost slider like, then Shake Shack is worth trying.

            -----
            Shake Shack
            Madison Ave and E 23rd St, New York, NY 10010

            1. I don't think Shake Shack is worth it - not for the burger, hot dog, fries, or custard. There are plenty of better burgers in NYC.

              I think Five Guys went downhill when they franchised too much, but I enjoy it when I have it at the airport. (Better than other options.)

              -----
              Shake Shack
              Madison Ave and E 23rd St, New York, NY 10010

              1 Reply
              1. re: windycity

                Is there another place with worthwhile custard in NY right? At least the flavors are innovative
                and executed with far more success than Momo Milk Bar's soft serve.

              2. five guys is horrible...their buns are fluffy and squishy...

                shake shack is the best burger of its kind in nyc and from the myriad places ive eaten burgers at, the best in the country.

                id wait 30-45 min for it. the uws version has less of a line and the place is filled with dorks or kids but its still amazing.

                1 Reply
                1. re: sam1

                  Hey, what's wrong with dorks? ;)

                  I go to the UWS location all the time and almost never wait more than 10 minutes to order, frequently less. I think the key is to go there that after-lunch-before-dinner time frame. I don't think I'd wait more than 30 minutes for it (like I'd have to at the downtown location since I don't get up early enough to be there at opening) but less than that, it's definitely worth it to me. Delicious burger and custards, love those fries too.

                2. Shake Shack's burger really is good. But if you don't want the wait, you can make a reservation at Blue Smoke (where the burger is just as good) or at Little Owl, another great burger.

                  -----
                  Shake Shack
                  Madison Ave and E 23rd St, New York, NY 10010

                  Little Owl
                  90 Bedford Street, New York, NY 10014

                  Blue Smoke
                  116 East 27th Street, New York, NY 10016

                  1. I just go to the UWS one (much further from me, but easy to get to by subway) if I don't want to wait. But you can go to their website and they have a live feed of the line at the Madison Sq Park location, so you can see beforehand what you're getting yourself into. If it's nice out, there WILL be a line. But in the summer, if you just want custard, they start having a separate line for that (but you can't really tell if you're at the back of the line, so you kinda have to know it's there or you'll wait a longgg time extra). The custard is great and their special flavors rotate...I'm looking forward to the return of salty caramel!

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Jess321

                      So are these like big juicy burgers or more like Five Guys style burgers, a little more fast food? So the wait up at the UWS location is minimal?

                      1. re: dezineliz

                        if you actually check out their website, you can SEE PICs of the burgers. pretty self-explanatory, as someone else posted. to me, they look like fastfood style burgers.

                        1. re: dezineliz

                          They are thin, griddled burgers. They are a fast food style burger but have a good crust, is well cooked and seasoned and is made with good quality beef.

                          Generally speaking, the people that don't like Shake Shack (different from the people who won't wait on a line for it) would rather a 1 inch thick pub style burger. Here is a primer from A Hamburger Today. There is a picture of a shake shack burger under "fast food style"

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

                          -----
                          Shake Shack
                          Madison Ave and E 23rd St, New York, NY 10010

                      2. dezineliz, you sound like a smart person, and I say this because your assessment of Five Guys is spot on. Terrible, dry meat that we're supposed to excuse because of all the free toppings. No thanks.

                        That said, I'm going to urge you: Don't listen to people who crap all over Shake Shack. It's not just good, it's very good - particularly the Shack Stack, which I think someone already explained on here. That's the one to order. It's unique.

                        The custard is great, as well. Unless you live near Ted Drewes in St. Louis or Leon's in Milwaukee or Luv-it in Las Vegas and a few others I'm forgetting, it's great.

                        Don't bother with Madison Square Park. Go to the UWS; pair it with a walk in Central Park or a visit to the Museum of Natural HIstory. Waits are shorter there because there's less tourist traffic and a large kitchen. It's very efficient. I go monthly and never, ever wait.

                        That is all.

                        -----
                        Shake Shack
                        Madison Ave and E 23rd St, New York, NY 10010

                        24 Replies
                        1. re: biryaniboy

                          If I may ask, biryaniboy, what are some other restaurants you enjoy in NY?
                          Thanks, by the way, I am a smart person. Just feel like there are so many places to eat in NY and I don't want to feel angry about wasting a meal on Shake Shack if it's over rated. And according to you it isn't. So I think I may check it out. How far would you say it is from the MET Museum of Art? Thinking of going the day we go to the museum.

                          -----
                          Shake Shack
                          Madison Ave and E 23rd St, New York, NY 10010

                          1. re: dezineliz

                            The Met is on the east side of Central Park at 82nd and 5th Ave. Shake Shack is at W 72nd and Columbus Ave. To go from one to the other, you could either get a cab (shouldnt be too expensive, $10 max) or take a bus from 79th and 5th across the park to Columbus and walk down. If you have time and are up for it, you could also walk, which would take about a half hour. I did this on Saturday and it was a great way to spend the day.

                            -----
                            Shake Shack
                            Madison Ave and E 23rd St, New York, NY 10010

                            1. re: ml77

                              Shake Shack is at W77th, not 72nd.

                              1. re: ml77

                                Are you talking about the UWS one because I was referring to that one.

                                1. re: dezineliz

                                  The Shake Shack on Columbus & 77th is on the UWS. As has been pointed out, it is not near the Met Museum which is on the UES.

                                  -----
                                  Shake Shack
                                  Madison Ave and E 23rd St, New York, NY 10010

                                2. re: ml77

                                  that walk does not have to take as long as half an hour

                                3. re: dezineliz

                                  Shake Shack is a hamburger joint. I like the burger there just fine, but if you're visiting NY this is a ridiculous waste of a meal. I mean if I were going to CA for a few days , would I use up a meal at In N Out? Maybe if I were driving past one.

                                  -----
                                  Shake Shack
                                  Madison Ave and E 23rd St, New York, NY 10010

                                  1. re: gutsofsteel

                                    A lot of people do make it a priority to waste a meal at In N Out. Nothing wrong with an economical burger destination while traveling, but I wouldn't pick a fast food version.

                                4. re: biryaniboy

                                  Agree wholeheartedly with this (though I just like the Shack Burger myself). The lines are bad, but the burger is actually really flavorful (and yes Five Guys is awful). Head over at 11 if you are doing Madison Park, or if you are unfortunate enough to be here on a rainy day, right after the rain = no lines. Honestly, if its a nice day, I don't mind waiting around in a pretty park for a while with my friends. That's what Saturdays are for, and the burger is consistently great.

                                  Lines you CAN skip in the city include Magnolia, Pinkberry, Momofuku anything (yep, I said it, its way overrated people), Burger Joint, Corner Bistro, Artichoke Pizza, the Uggs Store...

                                  -----
                                  Burger Joint
                                  118 W 57th St, New York, NY 10019

                                  Corner Bistro
                                  331 W 4th St, New York, NY 10014

                                  1. re: _emilie_

                                    Emilie!! I'm soooo glad someone else agrees that burger joint is not worth the wait. It's not worth the money period for me. Same with magnolia and pinkberry.

                                    Personally for shake shack, while it is delicious, it's not worth a 20-30 min wait. Like many on the board, do the UWS location. I live down the block from it and even at peak hours with nice weather, the line is always shorter that MSP

                                    1. re: _emilie_

                                      I would wait for Artichoke. Have heard it's really good. I want to try it. Also, Momofuku is not over rated. I love it.

                                      1. re: dezineliz

                                        The Artichoke slice at Artichoke was sickeningly greasy and overly heavy with the topping (and I am a HUUUGE artichoke dip fan). I was super disappointed that I had to wait to eat something so gross, but luckily I also got a sicilian slice which was decent to make up for it. Last weekend I was dragged into the line again, and because of my terrible experience last time, I actually went across the street to Crocodile lounge to try their pizza instead (which was not the best by ANY means, but it wasn't heavy at least, and I wasn't in the mood to be weighed down by one slice of pizza). I know everyone raves about the Artichoke slice but it's definitely not for everyone!

                                        1. re: Jess321

                                          Artichoke precooks the pizzas now, and doesn't cook them as well-done with the char they used to have so there's nothing to balance the artichoke toppings which are almost like a cream sauce. Once they have slowly started to dry, they don't revive.

                                          1. re: sugartoof

                                            I don't understand when you say "Artichoke precooks the pizzas now". The last time I was there about 3 weeks ago, granted that they gave me a slice that was sliced the pie on the display and was re-heated and which came out tith the char at the bottom, they were handing out piping-hot slices, straight from the oven, to those that were waiting, as I chomped on mine.

                                            1. re: RCC

                                              If they reheated your slice as you described, they precooked it.

                                              I was there this week, and they were pulling precooked artichoke pies from a cooling rack. Once the line ran out, they already had more pies waiting in anticipation. The crust had no char, and was just barely cooked. Not all the slices were getting reheated, some were served lukewarm. All other pies were precooked and sitting out, as is typical of a by the slice places, and needed to be reheated when ordered.

                                              1. re: sugartoof

                                                most slice pizza is "pre-cooked". NY style pizza dough is almost designed for the 2nd heating - 1st for chew, 2nd for crisp.

                                                1. re: thew

                                                  thew, of course....my point was that this doesn't suit the artichoke slice, and it's a change in how they serve it.

                                                  1. re: sugartoof

                                                    Still taste darn good to me and better than most, or any artichoke pizza that I've had. For 3 bucks and change, you expect them to make a slice from scratch ... here in Manhattan?

                                                    1. re: RCC

                                                      It's $4 now.

                                                      By precooking the slices the quality has declined. They established themselves earning reviews for their freshly cooked pizzas.

                                                    2. re: sugartoof

                                                      i think the only change is that lines aren't as long so now not every pie sells out immediately upon exiting the oven

                                          2. re: dezineliz

                                            Artichoke is not worth a wait. I finally gave in and tried it due to extenuating circumstances. Square pie, better taste in the crust and sauce than I expected.
                                            Cheese is poor. And the square is relatively thin, in the oven way too long, carbon edges and I am about some char. This was way past the proper point.
                                            Bad, no, where it ranks, cannot say, I really only eat pizza from one place, tired of disappointments. Not that I have tried everywhere but whenever I do, it comes up short. Poor cheese quality is inexcusable, it is the only costly ingredient. If you do not have to wait, depending on your standards, might be fine or good.
                                            As for artichoke slices, well.............at what point is it no longer pizza?
                                            The kitchen sink on top of dough thing has gotten out of control.

                                          3. re: _emilie_

                                            artichoke is good - just dont get the artichoke - the margherita, the sicilain, and the crab all rock

                                            momofuku ssam - one of my fave's. never had a bad meal there. not sure i ever had a bad dish there.

                                            1. re: thew

                                              Oh I get that people like it -- just like Shake Shack -- hence the difficulty of getting in. You have a lot of friends here on CH to agree with you. But I have tried Momo Noodle, Ssam and Milkbar multiple times each and never been impressed (what is with his overuse of hoisin??), so you won't see me next to you in line. It's fine, but not nearly worth the hype or the wait IMHO. There are a lot better places in the city to spend your time. Which is the complaint many people have with Shake Shack.

                                              1. re: _emilie_

                                                im not crazy about either milkbar or noodle (though i need to explore noodle's menu more before i pronounce a final judgement )

                                                Ssam - different story. i had snails there there were revelatory. uni, pork, fish, the apple kim chii - all fabulous to me. in fact the only item that i might not have again is eponymous SSam.and i've never waited more than 15 minutes (and the sweetest celeb sighting last time i was there - wylie dufrense w/ his infant in a snuggie)

                                        2. First off, I have never had a Five Guys Burger, so I can't make any comparisons. As for the Shake Shack burger, I really like it. But it -- or any other food, for that matter -- is not worth waiting on a hideously long line to have it. We usually go to the Shack on Saturday or Sunday during the summer only (I'm a weather weenie). To avoid a line of any consequence, we show up a few minutes before they open at 11 a.m. and consider it brunch. As for the reason I like the burger, the type and high quality of the meat used makes it quite juicy and delicious.

                                          Photos of one of the many Shake Shack burgers (actually, cheeseburgers) I've had can be viewed here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

                                          -----
                                          Shake Shack
                                          Madison Ave and E 23rd St, New York, NY 10010

                                          1. Shake Shack's burgers are good. But no way would I wait more than 10 minutes for it. Especially when it's possible to go at off hours or at opening times and avoid the wait. There's also the UWS location. And soon to be a UES location too.

                                            -----
                                            Shake Shack
                                            Madison Ave and E 23rd St, New York, NY 10010

                                            1. You've actually stumbled upon one of NYC's darker secrets, deziner (?), which is that people in this city are drawn to stand in lines just as moths are to circle a flame. Doesn't matter quite what it's for, but -just as gawkers will gaze for hours at a movie set where nothing happens- New Yorkers will wait in any line if there's some prospect of exclusive nirvana at the end of it. That's how the Shake Shack works (there's even a webcam site working somewhere that shows you the line before you go.)

                                              It's just a glamorised hot dog stand, that place. It's not bad, especially, but it's no more than, well, a shack. If you want fast [sic] food, then you can do worse in the city, but don't let the line fool you that the establishment is something it's not.

                                              1. The answer is yes... it is worth a wait of 20-30 minutes. If you went to a sit-down restaurant and placed an order, that is approx. how long it would take until your burger came out, so what is the big difference. As other posters have said, the wait at the UWS location is rarely longer than that even when the line is out the door. And whether you like the Shake Shack burger is up to you, but you have to at least try it to be part of the 'Best Burger in NY' conversation.

                                                -----
                                                Shake Shack
                                                Madison Ave and E 23rd St, New York, NY 10010

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: Michael Ambrosio

                                                  Corner B is not worth the wait when there are Shake Shacks that serve a comparable burger and the beers too. Just don't be disappointed that you don't see The Strokes waiting for a burger at the UWS location.

                                                  -----
                                                  Shake Shack
                                                  Madison Ave and E 23rd St, New York, NY 10010

                                                  1. re: Michael Ambrosio

                                                    Well because when we were in NY last there was an hour long line. Most of the lines I have seen are longer than 20-30 minutes. You must be talking about the UWS location or something. Or when they are first open.

                                                    1. re: dezineliz

                                                      Honestly, Liz, if I were coming to NYC from out of town, paying whatever insane sum Manhattan hotel rooms go for these days times the five days of my trip, and someone told me, "Wait in the Shake-Shack line for at least an hour: you'll get a subtly overpriced yet otherwise unexceptional burger [plus everyone passing by on the M23 will be laughing at you]" while at the same time some of the very, very best restaurants in the city were right there within a seven-block radius of Madison Sq. -in which you could actually sit at a table and drink a glass of nice wine waiting for your meal (although probably not a Frankfurter smeared with airline-package mustard); that disconnect, liz (& sorry, Michael A.) would make me wonder how I might bottle the dementia and sell it back home, for an equally handsome profit.

                                                    2. re: Michael Ambrosio

                                                      if you went to a sit down restaurant, you would not get a thin fast food burger. that's the difference

                                                    3. in a word: no

                                                      so many better burgers in NYC (in fact almost all of them)

                                                      1. The only time I had a Shack burger was at Citifield. As far as a stadium burger goes it is great quality. I was disappointed that they would not cook a rare burger.

                                                        However, if you want to compare it to other burgers I have had in the city? Not worth it. My main beef? They do not cook the burgers to order so those of us who like it rare are out of luck. I'd go to Rare bar and grill.

                                                        13 Replies
                                                        1. re: steakrules85

                                                          You expect a patty that thin to be rare?
                                                          It is fast food and just because meat is rare does not make it great nor make the eater
                                                          some type of expert, beef purist. If you say you do not like any thin patties or fast food style burgers just say that. Not cooking to your specs does not apply.
                                                          And I am not a Shake Shack fanatic.
                                                          And to dezi, certainly not worth an hour or any other unreasonable wait. If you want to hang out with some friends and the time is on line vs some other venue for chatting, go for it.
                                                          And Five Guys is quite the bunch of rubbish.
                                                          Also, not a Shake Shack hater.

                                                          -----
                                                          Shake Shack
                                                          Madison Ave and E 23rd St, New York, NY 10010

                                                          1. re: dietndesire

                                                            Who said anything about a rare burger making someone a beef purist? I was simply stating that I prefer my burgers bloody rare which Shake Shack cannot do. Therefore, if you like your burger that way Shake Shack is not for you. For a "fast food" burger it is good. But like I said it is definitely not worth the wait if you ask me... which is what the original poster wanted to know as well.

                                                            -----
                                                            Shake Shack
                                                            Madison Ave and E 23rd St, New York, NY 10010

                                                            1. re: steakrules85

                                                              I do not see from the original post why you would bring it up.
                                                              I could say that I only like burgers with blue cheese and they do not offer that
                                                              so I did not love it.
                                                              Or one of a million other possibilities.
                                                              2 fast food style places mentioned in post, I would think bloody rare is not a lynch pin concern.

                                                              1. re: dietndesire

                                                                dnd, I think you are way out of line here.

                                                                Why shouldn't steakrules bring up the fact that he prefers his burger rare and can't get it that way at Shake Shack? For *him*, it is a "lynch pin concern" and is *his* reason for feeling that it's not a burger worth waiting for. That's his *opinon,* to which he is certainly entitled!

                                                                I prefer my burger medium rare, and they have sometimes managed to cook it that way. But even when it is cooked past that level of doneness, it is still an excellent burger because of the quality of the meat.

                                                                -----
                                                                Shake Shack
                                                                Madison Ave and E 23rd St, New York, NY 10010

                                                              2. re: steakrules85

                                                                i think in the uws location u can order the burger rare, medium, or well done. but nothing in between because of their grills.

                                                              3. re: dietndesire

                                                                I carry no brief for the steak-guy, d&d, but your post really was a startling model of "sound and fury signifying nothing". What was your point other than to splatter like a Rovian?
                                                                Funny how 'SmartPhones' don't always work as advertised.


                                                                EDIT: "I would think bloody rare is not a lynch pin [sic] concern." Ah, right, especially if the original poster's name is 'steakrules'. A little bit of a Tory diktat for a foodie thread, no?

                                                                1. re: Phil Ogelos

                                                                  He's just an excitable boy.

                                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6945...

                                                                  1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                    Thanks for the link, Bob.
                                                                    I read the posts and felt as if I'd been slapped in the face!
                                                                    It's as if d (she) & d (he) arrived at the table like a plate of slightly-off cassoulet;
                                                                    I know well enough to send that toxic stuff back to the kitchen.

                                                                    1. re: Phil Ogelos

                                                                      I really liked the line about the smart phone. :-)

                                                                      1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                        It came to me instantly, as I was replying, but with luck the line might go viral.
                                                                        Heaven knows it deserves to!

                                                              4. re: steakrules85

                                                                I don't think it's fair to judge Shake Shack by the outpost at Citifield -- my understanding is that they have limited menu and facilities than other locations. Why don't you give the UWS location a try? You hardly ever have to wait & sitting is easy to find (look downstairs if there's none upstairs.)

                                                                1. re: uwsister

                                                                  I've been to all three locations and the burgers are identical.

                                                                  1. re: gutsofsteel

                                                                    ive only been to the uws one and im pretty sure u can order the burger rare, im not sure about the other locations.