Shake Shack - Manhattan, New York
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.
Madison Square Park
E 23rd St & Madison Ave
New York, NY 10010
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