Having long anticipated the opening of the Upper West Side branch of Shake Shack, I was thrilled to hear of its opening yesterday. My wife and I checked on it Saturday, with no luck; yesterday we were out of town, so by tonight we decided we’d waited long enough, and off I went to get us some take-out.
Arriving after 8 p.m. on the second day was a good move. The line took around 20 minutes, the service was chipper and efficient, the store clean and cheery. (A tip: wait time from the entrance of the restaurant is around 10 minutes. It’s also 10 minutes from the corner of 77th and Columbus to the front door. Beyond that you’ll have to ask the neighbors.)
To patrons of the original, the new Shake Shack is not particularly innovative or exciting. The decor is a proper match to the shack in Madison Square Park, right down to the metal mesh and backlit sign. In a nod to the neighborhood, the main floor includes indoor waiting-area seating, a section for stroller parking, and some new concretes like the Natural History Crunchstellation.
So, most importantly: how was it? In short, very good. The overall quality is still Danny-Meyer-playing-short-order-cook high; all ingredients were fresh and each item prepared to order.
Burger: The Shack Burger has the same allure as downtown, tasty and inviting. But the full flavor isn’t all the way there yet. The original Shack has been grilling burgers 12 hours a day for years, and there’s a flavorful char that provides the “ohmigod this is amazing” taste. This early on, uptown is missing that extra kick. Still solid, though, and my wife noticed the difference less than I did.
Hot dogs: We tried a Shack-cago and a New York Dog, both of which were enjoyable, basic hot dogs. The multitude of toppings on the Shack-cago was great, particularly the relish.
Fries: Best part of the meal. Crunchy, fluffy, bursting with flavor. The uptown fries are as good as Madison Square if not better, despite rumors that the ones here are frozen.
Concrete: Our Shacky Road went fast. Crunchies added afterward were a fun and unexpected twist. I’m still partial to the Shack Attack, but really, any concrete is a good concrete.
All in all, a solid start for the first expansion of the Shake Shack. In a few months’ time, I will be fighting long lines (or showing up at 9:30 p.m., after most of the UWS has gone to bed) for what I’ve long declared is the best burger in New York City–now a short walk from home as well as 500 yards from my office. Heaven.
Welcome Interior Production line