I remember it like it was yesterday...July 2005, it was your typical hot and muggy afternoon day in the city. I was in Flatiron, Madison Square Park (“MSP”) to be exact, and that is where it happened. Where I fell in love...fell in love with Shake Shack.
Maybe it was the setting, luscious green park with New York’s skyline as the backdrop. Maybe it was the anticipation as we waited in line to order and pickup our food. We had just picked up our order when a torrential downpour came out of nowhere. The crowd dispersed running in every direction looking for cover. We took cover at the 23rd St Station. And like any “real” man would do, I protecting you from getting wet. I mean, come on. Do you think a gentleman would let you get wet and rained on? And then it happened, under the cover of the 23rd St Station, I had my first bite of Shake Shake; and I knew then, that there was no turning back...
Okay, I know. A little dramatic, but that was my introduction to Shake Shack way back in the day. And now that same Shake Shack, that NYC burger that has a cult like following has finally arrived in AZ with two locations now open! One is located in Scottsdale on the south side of Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall near Barneys New York and Dick’s Sporting Good, and the other located in CenPho in the Uptown Plaza, just east of Central Ave & Camelback.
What To Get?
Shake Shack is your traditional burger stand food (burgers, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, crinkle cut fries, shakes). It’s just done better than most establishments. The fact of the matter is...you are going to Shake Shack for one of two things, their burgers and/or their shakes (or concretes). Their crinkle cut fries are also a good option as they are fried to crispy perfection. Unlike other burger establishments, Shake Shake does offer beer and wine. They are friendly to all members of the family, including your four legged friends as they have two menu items just for them.
Recommendations (Joseph Yu)
ShackBurger. It’s a classic cheeseburger made with 100% all natural Angus beef, lettuce and tomatoes. Instead of mayo and/or ketchup, the ShackBurger has their special “ShakeSauce.” The sauce adds a little bit of sweetness and tang that helps round out the burger. From what I can gather, the ShakeSauce is made with ketchup, mayo, yellow mustard, smoked paprika, vinegar, garlic & onion powder. I’m still debating if they put a hint of cayenne pepper powder. The ShakeSauce is most comparable to In-N-Out’s special “spread” (minus the relish) but finishes cleaner and smoother.
SmokeShack. The title is a little misleading as there is not much smoke from the burger; the smoke you do get is from the bacon. It’s a solid burger made with the 100% all natural Angus beef, meaty crispy Niman Ranch Bacon, rough chopped cherry peppers and Shake Shack’s Special “ShackSauce”. In my opinion, the combination of textures from the bacon along with the burst of subtle mild heat from the Cherry Peppers makes this burger.
FYI. Ask for extra ShakeSauce on any of their burgers. I feel at the Scottsdale location, they skimp on the sauce.
Apart of their revolving flavors of frozen custards (check the monthly calendar), Shake Shack has created two Concretes (frozen custards with mix-ins; think an elevated smoother, creamier version of the the DQ Blizzard) that you can only get at one of the Arizona locations.
CamelShack. The CamelShack is my hands down favorite. Frozen vanilla custard, salted caramel sauce and chunks of Banana Cream Pie from The Bakery Phx (local bakery), it’s a hit! What makes Shake Shack’s shakes and concretes so great is the frozen custard. It makes both shakes and concrete so much more rich and smooth than others out there.
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DustDevil. The other homage to the Valley and the desert is the DustDevil. Made with frozen vanilla custard, peanut butter sauce, marshmallow sauce, with bits of shortbread cookie and a dusting of malt powder, the DustDevil is another solid local only selection.
From it’s original roots at Madison Square Park from a hotdog cart, to a small shack/building, to now their attempt for global domination in the burger world, does Shake Shack live up to the hype? All I can say it’s not the same as the summers I spent in NYC enjoying a burger and shake in the park (or at the subway station). As with any restaurant that expands, consistency and quality is the challenge. I can safely say you won’t have same experience as I did in MSP many years ago. What you will get is the essence of what one of NYC’s best burgers tastes like.