Monday, September 23, 2013

Shake Shack - Manhattan, New York

When I first heard of Shake Shack so many years ago, I thought it looked like an East Coast version of In-N-Out. I stumbled upon it today, not because I was necessarily looking for it, but because in New York, things of interest are usually not more than a few hundred feet of each other. The Shake Shack is Madison Square Park, which is next to The Flatiron Building, which is near Mario Batali's Eataly.

It's an idyllic scene--an actual shack in the middle of a park, shaded by trees, and surrounded by a rickety chairs and tables to sit, breathe, and eat a burger.

I liked the burger I ate. It's thick-pattied and juicy, hugged tightly by a bun that's as sweet as a brioche. They use one single leaf of frilly lettuce, not iceberg, and a ripe tomato. Is it as good as an In-N-Out burger? Well that depends on what you define good.

An In-N-Out burger has texture--the cool crunch of lettuce, the snap of the onion, the perk of tomato, and the crisp-toasted edges of the bun. Shake Shack's burger has a uniformly soft squish to it. Eating it feels like tucking into an almost a homogeneous mass that leads you to the flavor and softness of the ground beef. It has almost no texture.

But the fries are delicious and golden, crinkle cut and crunchy; and the hot dog split down the middle to sear so that the sugars caramelize. I sipped a house-made lemonade and sat back as the city noises were muffled by the green buffer zone that was the park.

I'd heard the lines for Shake Shack used to wind itself around the pathway and lasted hours. And then I thought about how long the lines might be if In-N-Out opened here. And then I smiled.

Shake Shack
Madison Square Park
E 23rd St & Madison Ave
New York, NY 10010
(212) 889-6600

Papa Hassan's Grill - Anaheim


At 3:47 PM, Blogger Greg Hao said...

i think shake shack is only interesting for new yorkers who grew up on white castle (whose burgers have the same sort of consistency) and were looking for a more upscale (read: hipster) alternative to it.

this is not to denigrate shack shake (or white castle) but to give it some proper perspective.

don't get me wrong, whenever i'm in new york, i try to enjoy some shake shack. god the lines! but i always long for an in'n'out when i return.

At 8:19 AM, Anonymous JB said...

Did you know that the annual Philippine Independence Day Parade marches down Madison Avenue
(not Fifth Avenue, like the other big ethnic parades...Filipinos get no respect)
and ends near a rockin' cultural festival in Madison Square Park?
The parade and festival attract many Pinoys from heavily-Filipino areas in North Jersey, many of whom are settled in suburban living and don't travel to the big city that often. It's always a great late Spring day.

As always, this review is spot-on. The Shake Shack burgers are good, but for someone who resides in the LA area, they're not life-changing. You go to NYC for hot dogs and [outer borough] pizza...Philadelphia for cheesesteaks...Miami for Cubanos and medianoches. Eat your burgers (and French Dips) back home.

At 10:31 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Agreed on all counts. I actually tried White Castle the day after Shake Shack and did find it makes a whole lot of sense.

The perfect burger would have Shake Shack's patty and In-N-Out's everything else!


Ah, I wish I had time to visit the Pinoys!

I did make my usual pilgrimage to the Papaya joints...which is to New York what the Albertoclones are to OC!

At 7:24 PM, Blogger caninecologne said...

hi there, just catching up on your posts. one of my friends just posted on her recent Shack Shack visit (@ the new Times Square location).

When we visited back in summer '07, there was only one location, Madison Square Park. Our wait time was 45 minutes. The interminable wait (at least to me) was made more interesting with an animated and quite loud protest by transgender rights activists. i remember the meat patties as being awesome. my husband regretted not getting a double (we didn't know that was a choice) and found the single patty burger not filling but we didn't want to spend another 45 #$@& minutes in line, ha ha.

I still think In-n-Out kicks ass on Shake Shack any day of the week and it's much cheaper too. I do like Shake Shack's crinkle fries better than In-n-Out's tho'.

At 9:23 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


I think we waited about 30 minutes...but it was a pleasant wait. I am in agreement with Shake Shack's fries though. They were excellent, even compared to In-N-Out's well-done fries!


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