Ever since Marilyn posted about Manhattan's Secret Burger, I've been meaning to offer my own love letter to New York's Shake Shack, the burger I dream about now that I'm in D.C. Admittedly, the Shack is as much about the scene as it is the food, but the 40 minute-plus line snaking through Madison Square Park is a perfect excuse to gossip and gawk at the eclectic slice of New Yorkers queued up: brusque business-types (or the interns who cater to them), skinny-jean clad hipsters, dog walkers, the elderly, and college students galore. The outdoor burger stand is the brainchild of restauranteur Danny Meyer (of Union Square Cafe and Eleven Madison Park), and since opening in the park in 2004, the line has yet to dwindle.
But believe me, it's worth it. The Shackburgers, made of choice bits of sirloin and served with the delicious Shack sauce, have me salivating as of this writing. The fries are best of their species: crinkle cut and amazingly crispy, they're fantastic even without ketchup. Don't be deterred by the long line, for it serves to give you enough time to fully ponder the options on the menu. Should I opt for the 'Shroombuger (a fried portobello stuffed with Muenster) or the Shack-cago dog (a hot dog bedecked with a garden's worth of veggies)? Should I select a frozen custard (soft-serve and ice cream) from their daily Custard calendar or go with a Concrete (frozen custard plus mix-ins)? What is a purple cow and how will my life change after I've had one?
Reach the head of the line (or just saddle up to the front if shakes are all you need) and get ready to order. They'll take your name and give you a "Shack wand," which will vibrate when your food is ready. Now comes the hard part. Grab a table in the park and watch as well-fed lap dogs devour their Pooch-ini frozen custards. Try to distract yourself from the smell and the greedy eaters around you. Wait for it... and yes! Your meal is served. Bite in and enjoy!
Fans of the Shack can cut down on their anticipation factor by checking out the Shack Cam. And fans of green energy should take note that the entire operation is completely powered by wind. And for each bite of your burger, a bit of cash is fed back into the Madison Square Park Conservancy.
Rumor has it that there's a new Shack opening up in my old neighborhood on the Upper West Side. I'm sure lines are already staked out at 77th and Columbus, where the second Shack should be opening later this year.
Shake Shack: Madison Square Park at 23rd Street, 212-889-6600. Open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.
Photo: cknlomein via the Intelligent Travel Flickr pool