The plan 2 years ago was to write about Shake Shack after visiting all the restaurants. That was before Denny Meyer started expanding his restaurant group. Realizing that the article would never be written, I confined myself to just the Shake Shack’s in Manhattan, of which there’re four.
The cult-like following comes from the top secret blend of meats including premium cuts such as brisket, chuck, short rib, and skirt steak, are created in cooperation with top meat purveyor Pat LaFrieda, and protected by confidentiality agreement. The cooking method, which enthusiasts have coined “smash and scrape”, describes the process of which the meats is not formed as patties, but rather made into round balls then “pressed” on the griddle for maximum flavor. Go ahead, try it at home. It makes a difference.
The fries have never been popular, rightfully so. Skip it and get yourself a shake.
All four Shake Shack’s serve an identical menu, and are for the most part near identical in taste. The slight variations can be attributed to the different cooks (With casual fast-food type restaurants, you can’t expect burger cooks with culinary degrees). Madison Square Park still draws the greatest lines, but dining under the trees does feel special. Theater district has scant seating, and has a service style that’s more catered to tourists. Upper East and West side cater mostly to the locals, and have much shorter wait times.
I call this the perfect burger. Sure it’s not the most tasty burger, but for the price and flavor combination, it’s unbeatable. In-and-out comes close, but can’t shake its fast food roots. This is casual food with a fine dining pedigree.
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11 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10010