Shake Shack (UWS) | 366 Columbus Ave. (77th St.), New York, NY 10024 | 646.747.8770 | | |

BURGER DEBATES ARE UBIQUITOUS AND never-ending. And as I defended in my post about my visit to Black Iron Burger, choosing a "best" burger is an even rhetorically impossibility. "Best"s are, and should be, subjective, and particular to the individual, so therefore can't apply to everyone. "Favorite"s comes much closer to accurately describing a personally referential preference, and most apt for published "lists" of any sorts.

I don't have a best or even favorite burger, much like I don't have a best or favorite movie, song, or ex-girlfriend. But I'm open enough to trust the judgments of others, and am aware of how much and often people seek mine, that I go out of my way to do the investigative "dirty work" myself.

So was it some years ago when Shake Shack first opened open in Madison Square, and since I had read good things about it before it officially opened, I was psyched to try it out. If I remember correctly, the draw for me was more the frozen custard than the burger. I was just starting to get over the whole "burger" craze, with $25 foie gras-stuffed burgers on truffle-buttered toasted buns—ugh! Enough, already! Conversely, the novelty of a frozen custard was quite appealing.

Surprisingly, though, like most people, the burger quickly grew on me, largely for its tasty simplicity. No bells or whistles; just meat, vegetables and bread. How novel!

Then the lines started, and I pretty much said, "forget it"! Well, maybe not "forget". Shake Shack was only open during the warmer months and, despite how much I enjoyed the burger, it was worth giving up an hour of my time sweating through my dress shirt when there were nearby places selling very good Cuban sandwiches from Sophie's, oyster Po' Boys from Live Bait, or old school, diner-style tuna sandwiches with Dr. Brown's Black Cherry soda from Eisenberg's Sandwich Shop.

And for a while I backlashed against Shake Shack's sudden, late-to-the-game popularity, much like I did when people were "all into" Hootie and the Blowfish two years after their album came out, all of a sudden! And it wouldn't be until years later, last fall, when they opened one right across town from me, and my friend, Trixie, started enjoying a burger there on an almost weekly basis that I decided to join her and give the place another try, objectivity intact.


And, yes, it was good. It was very, very good! And I was happy that a great, simple burger was still available in this city, without chutneys or fruit-based salsas or exotic stinky cheeses on focaccia breads. But the rest of the city started catching on.

Now, every few months, a new burger place, offering great, simple, recession-friendly ($7–$10?) burgers was opening up. Places with names like Zeitgeist, and 5 Napkins Burger, and BLT Burger, and Jimbo's Hamburger Palace. And Shake Shack kept besting these place's titular versions in various "Best" or "Top Ten" lists of burgers. I was fully impressed with Black Iron Burger's chopped beef sandwich and figured, since everyone was going to ask me which I thought was better, I should go back to the source while memories were still fresh.

So I ventured a revisit to "the Shack", alone as to better concentrate on my eating experience, and am still impressed that, even though the place still gets busy, the management of the place is so efficient that I never felt cramped or rushed.



I ordered the Shack Cheeseburger, Double, with a shake called a Shacky Road, paid, and got my little buzzy thingy that vibrates and lights up when your order is ready. A vibration and lighting up later, I retrieved my tray:


Yum! And as good as ever. I prefer my bun toasty warm, my veggies freshly cool and crispy, and my burger beefy and running clear with tasty juices. I don't even need to go into greater detail; it's a near heavenly experience. The execution is modern and somewhat upscale, but each bite and chew is simple and nostalgic. And the burger itself has a fine but firm texture to it. My teeth go through the meat less like biting through grilled chopped beef and more like savoring a very tender steak. Have another look at the beautiful meat:


Devoured every bite! It was a humid afternoon, and after having walked from 54th & 7th, I thought a frosty shake would cool me off. The first few bites did, but this cup was about a pound of sweet, chocolatey ice cream with marshmallows and more chocolate chunks and basically a heart attack waiting for anyone over 35 years old! I gave it a good 3 or 4 spoonfuls, but, after that double cheeseburger, had to throw in the towel before someone else had to call 911...!

So, it's not a debate of which burger is better. Sometimes—and thank goodness not often—, I'm really in the mood for a Quarter Pounder with Cheese, and nothing else would make me happier. Most burgers I consume during a year I prepare and cook myself. Could you do a lot, lot worse than Shake Shack? Easily. Could you do better? Maybe, but you'd have to work to find it.

And if you think you do, please feel free to let me know....

Bun Apple Tea!


Shake Shack

Shake Shack (UWS) | 366 Columbus Ave. (77th St.), New York, NY 10024 | 646.747.8770 | | |