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The award-winning Shackmeister burger is topped with cheese, shallots, and ShackSauce
Who knew a bunch of green onions could make so much of a difference?
Shake Shack is announcing the first major burger addition to its menu since 2012: the Shackmeister (or the MeisterBurger for all of you Burl Ives fans). The burger, an award-winning recipe that began as a secret menu item, consists of an 100% all-natural Angus beef cheeseburger topped with crispy marinated shallots and ShackSauce. It’s the first Shake Shack burger addition since the SmokeShack back in April 2012.
The Shackmeister was the winning burger recipe entry at the 2014 Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival Burger Bash, where the SmokeShack also debuted, and received the judge’s choice award. Over the past few years, Shake Shack has seemed to use the South Beach Burger Bash as a test audience for its new burger recipes. The next South Beach Wine & Food Festival is coming up in February, so be prepared for a brand-new Shake Shack recipe soon.
At first, the Shackmesiter was just part of the Shake Shack secret menu, but after fans loved it so much, it was added to the menu for this limited-time offer starting New Year’s Day at most Shake Shack locations. A single goes for $6.19; a double goes for $8.99.
Burger battle heats up as Five Guys and Shake Shack arrive in UK
A Byron burger. The Byron chain was recently offered for sale at £100m.
A Byron burger. The Byron chain was recently offered for sale at £100m.
A tweeted picture of George Osborne tucking into a takeaway from the upmarket chain Byron late at night while completing details of the spending review may have prompted ridicule this week, but the chancellor was bang on trend in buying a "posh" burger.
The mushrooming of upscale burger joints, especially in London, is set to escalate next week when two US companies open their first UK outlets within 24 hours of each other – and just 320 metres apart.
Five Guys, America's fastest growing restaurant chain, which counts Barack Obama as a fan and is said to have half the market for posh burgers, opens its first non-US outlet on Thursday in Covent Garden. And a day later New York's Shake Shack will make its London debut four minutes' walk away.
Both companies claim to have known nothing of the other's intentions and were quick to try to downplay any suggestion of competition between them. Randy Garutti, chief executive of Shake Shack, said Five Guys "do something very different to what we do". "We don't talk about competition because we think there is enough to go around," he said.
Five Guys intends to open five outlets in the UK – four of them in London – by October and between five and 10 more every three months after that, in a joint venture with the Carphone Warehouse co-founder Charles Dunstone. John Eckbert, the UK managing director, who works with Dunstone, said Five Guys had a "very respectful" relationship with Shake Shack.
"We have yet to find someone in the US that we believe is really like us," he said. "We think the burger is as good as we can make it." The simple Five Guys menu and style were more akin to the operation of the sandwich chain Pret A Manger, he said.
It is a boom time for high-end burger chains. Eckbert said research showed that almost a third of the US burger market was taken up by "better burger" outlets. In the UK, homegrown companies such as Byron, the Meat chain and Honest Burger have grown rapidly on the back of soaring demand. This month it was reported that Byron, which launched five years ago and now has 34 restaurants, had been withdrawn for sale after bidders failed to meet the £100m asking price.
Tom Barton, who with two business partners runs the critically acclaimed Honest Burger, is working on plans for the company's third restaurant in two years, having started the first for £8,500. He said the burger trend was based on consumer demand for simple, quality food.
"I think everybody has always had this interest in burgers but unfortunately burgers have always been generally pretty average. For me it has been a very simple meal done very badly so it has been stuck in its way like that for a very long time," he said.
Mike Palmer, a restaurant consultant, said people wanted to "consume experiences" and now had a much more advanced idea of what they wanted to eat compared with in the recent past.
One of the most successful of the new breed has been the Meat chain, which started out as a burger van touring London and now, five years later, is preparing to open its fourth outlet, in Brighton with 110 seats. The co-founder Scott Collins said turnover last year was £8m, of which 21% was profit. This year the company projects turnover of £10m.
Large players have also caught on. The Soho House Group opened Dirty Burger in Kentish Town last year and it has so far exceeded expectations, according to the group's director of restaurants, Nick Canton.
The proliferation of restaurants has led to suggestions that the market could become over-saturated, especially with the new arrivals. Collins predicted a "war-off" between the two, which are both located close to a Meat branch.
"I don't think people are going to stop eating good burgers and go back to bad burgers, so as long as these companies keep evolving I think there is plenty of room. I think people will be trading up – McDonald's eaters, Burger King eaters will go on to a better burger," he said.
In the beginning, they weren't profitable
Shake Shack's humble beginnings can be traced back to 2001, when it was nothing more than a hot dog cart in Madison Square Park. The tiny food purveyor was part of the Madison Square Park Conservancy's art installation series, aiming to donate 100 percent of their profits back to the park and support the artistic programming it's known for today (artists have to eat too!). The effort was noble, but didn't pan out exactly as the company had hoped.
According to the Shake Shack website, "the cart was quite the success, with Shack fans lined up daily for three summers." But in an article for Bon Appétit, Union Square Hospitality Group restaurateur and Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer revealed that he'd fudged the numbers a bit. "I've said we made $7,500 in year three. Actually, we didn't." The first two years, they actually lost money on the endeavor. Meyer also mentioned how he "was just so embarrassed that we'd lost money for three years, we chose to make a bigger contribution" to the Conservancy instead on the third year. Shake Shack has always been about giving back, but it definitely comes at a price.
NYC’s 12 Best Burgers
What is it about ground beef, heat, and a bun that produces such alchemy? Few foods are as a perfect at satisfying a simple, deep craving. The burger: we salute you. Even more so today, on National Cheeseburger Day. Here is a list of where to get some of the best in town. By Jesse Zanger.
The Best Burgers burger is like the one you’d make in your back yard, if you had one. (Image from http://www.bestburgersshakes.com)
This hole-in-the-wall isn’t much by way of decor (it has only 10 seats), but it has one of the best delivery burgers in the city. Why? Because it is pretty much identical to what most people would make at home, if they could: a classic back-yard burger. Plump, round, big-as-your-fist, juicy burgers that are cooked perfectly. The fries and rings are very disappointing, but the juicy burger is excellent. If you’re looking for delivery in Midtown, it’s the winner.
Get ready for a massive meat bonanza. The Palm is a classic American steakhouse – it opened on 2nd Avenue in 1926, and has since franchised out across the country. The Bozzi Burger, named for one of the Italian immigrants who founded the restaurant, is a huge monster of a meal. It usually has a terrific, faint coating of char that adds a certain, delightful mmph to the flavor. Once you bite into it, get ready for a flood of juices. Afterward, you won’t need to eat for about a week – that is, if you finish it.
The peerless Burger Joint burger and fries. What else needs to be said? (Image from http://www.parkermeridien.com)
It would be impossible to do a round-up of the best burgers in NYC without including the triumphant Burger Joint. At or near the top of almost everyone’s “Best Burger” list, everything about this down-to-Earth place (in the midst of a highfalutin’ hotel) just works. Lines can be extremely long, especially in the middle of lunch hour, but if you can get one of the tables in this small, square reproduction of your college bar, sit down. Enjoy pitchers of brew and perfectly prepared, fresh and flavorful burgers. The fries and shakes are also no joke. One last point: unlike many of the burgers on this list, the Burger Joint burger isn’t too big. It is a small, delightful portion.
The Bistro Burger with cheese and bacon, known to some simply as “joy.” (Image from http://www.cornerbistrony.com)
This West Village institution, which touts itself as one of the last bohemian bars in the area, is well known for the burger that lurks within its small, dark confines. The low-key neighborhood bar has retained its classic charm in the midst of a fast-changing, high-priced neighborhood. That said, it can get quite busy. The Bistro Burger is pretty cheap – now clocking in at a whopping $6.75. It is tender, juicy and delicious. Do yourself a favor if you go, though: don’t bother waiting for a cramped table in the back. Gently elbow your way to the bar, take a seat, and get your burger there while slurping down McSorley’s Dark for a mere $2.50 a glass.
Reviewers lavish praise on Donovan’s, some calling it the best burger in the city. It is a huge, pub-style burger, lauded for its juiciness and perfect preparation. Chase it with a delicious pint of Guinness, enjoy the thick-cut steak fries, and you’re in for a great experience.
The dripping, juicy Five Napkin Burger. (credit: Jesse Zanger/melikeeat.com)
Here is the simplest way to understand the 5 Napkin Burger: onion soup. Imagine, if you will, a bowl of the piping hot concoction. Now, retain the flavor, but swap out everything beneath the gooey cheese and replace it with fresh ground chuck. Voila – that is essentially the 5 Napkin Burger. It is dripping with juice (hence a “five napkin burger”) and slathered with melting gruyere cheese, onions and rosemary aioli. It started out as an item on the menu of Nice Matin, an Upper West Side restaurant, but proved so popular the owners broke it out into its own restaurant franchise. It’s wonderful.
Upper East Side stalwart J.G. Melon has been producing wonderful, juicy burgers since it opened in 1972. There’s a lot of things about the place that work: it’s unpretentious bar atmosphere, the dining room in the back. The round cottage-fried potatoes are also a treat, perhaps a bit too easy to keep popping down. Good thing the portion size – both of the burger and the fries – isn’t too large.
Trust us, the Peter Luger burger won’t look like that for long. (Image from http://www.peterluger.com)
What is there not to love about Peter Luger’s steakhouse? Arguably the best in steakhouse in town also makes a serious burger, naturally. However, it is only available at lunch. It’s over a half a pound of delicious meat – what else would you expect from such a lauded institution? It is an open debate, however, whether it is worth getting the burger after going through the effort to get to the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge. After all, if you’ve gone that far, you may as well get their peerless porterhouse steak (not too mention the unreal bacon appetizer). But burger-lovers will hear the call of the Luger’s burger and sample it to their great delight. It crumbles into a medium-rare mass of meat.
In some ways, the Clarke’s burger is definitional. It’s not too big to grab hold of, with a slim, but very choice, patty. There’s a slice of raw onion tucked underneath the bun, like a buried treasure waiting for you. The Clarke’s burger is so popular, and so well respected, that they now have four satellite locations throughout the city. The original on Third Avenue is the classic locale, retaining its historic, 19th century charm.
A Prime Burger with bacon. (Image from http://www.primeburger.com)
Set in the shadow of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Prime Burger is a throwback to an era of diners and “greasy spoons” that have mostly been priced out of the city. It feels a bit like a coffee shop. The Prime Burger has a lunch special that will particularly appeal to burger-lovers: the Prime Burger deluxe ($10.95, $11.95 with cheese). The deluxe comes with two burgers and fries, so you better be hungry, or willing to share. While the meat of the burger is no great shakes, the key is the relish, which when slathered on gives them extra juice and a hint of sweet, red pepper.
Much has been made of Danny Meyer’s Shake Shack. It burst onto the scene in Madison Square Park in 2004 and became an instant sensation. Lines at the park can be very long, especially during lunch, and those same lines can also be found at their satellite locations. The Shake Shack is essentially New York’s answer to the legendary West Coast institution In ‘N Out, which much to many a burger-loving New Yorker’s chagrin does not franchise here. The Shake Shack provides a high-end, fresh variant of the “fast food” burger type.
Charred perfection from Wollensky’s Grill. (credit: Jesse Zanger/melikeeat.com)
Not enough can be said about perhaps the most underrated, high-profile burger in town. There’s an excellent combination of crunchy char and rich flavor with a marvelous “close-to-the-bone” note. The atmosphere at Wollensky’s Grill is raucous, filled with the after-work business crowd, and the hospitality of the hosts there, who make an effort to get to know you and treat you well, is also part of the experience.
Here's Why It's Time to Stop Comparing In-N-Out to Shake Shack
There really was no getting around it—when Shake Shack began its westward expansion drive a few years back, they were eventually going to end up in In-N-Out Burger territory. Inevitably, this would invite comparison, and the incessant asking of the question: Which one is better? There had always been chatter, mostly among burger lovers familiar with both brands, but things really seemed to kick off back in 2015, when Shake Shack first arrived in Nevada and Texas, two states that had already grown to know and appreciate the relatively humble California institution.
This temptation to debate is understandable, don&apost get me wrong𠅋oth brands are immensely popular, both have their share of fierce defenders, not to mention detractors. It was going to come up. If you find New Yorkers to be fiercely, proudly provincial (I can say that, I&aposm from there), try hanging around Californians. (I can say that, I pay taxes there.). So, Shake Shack was never going to have a smooth ride, coming on to In-N-Out&aposs patch𠅊nyone who expected otherwise was dreaming. Back in 2016, when Shake Shack finally arrived in Los Angeles, the chatter came fast, furious, and never seemed to end. Once again, everyone wanted to know—who was better?
Pardon my candor, but it was a ridiculous question to ask then, and it&aposs a ridiculous question to be asking now. Not that this is stopping anyoneter settling rather comfortably into In-N-Out&aposs home market, Shake Shack has just announced its intentions to enter the Bay Area, which practically invented that brand of provincialism Californians can&apost get enough of. Once again, we&aposre having the conversation, that conversation, whether we want to or not.
I&aposm not here to come down on either side of the question, because there&aposs no answer. None. Shake Shack and In-N-Out (and Habit Burger, another California favorite, and Five Guys, and all the rest of the chains now working so hard at blanketing the field) are not equals, they never will be, and it starts with the price, and I&aposm not sure why that&aposs so hard for people to grasp.
You walk into a Shake Shack and order a burger ($5.69, no cheese), fries ($2.99, frozen, crinkle-cut) and a shake ($5.29 for the basic model), you&aposre walking out of there having spent a minimum of about $14, maybe $15, including tax. It&aposs good, I have no problem spending that kind of money on fast food, occasionally, though I don&apost happen to think their shakes are worth the price—I am mostly content to upgrade my order to cheese fries ($3.99) and pocket the savings. Walking out of a Shake Shack having spent around $10 feels something like a moral victory. I don&apost need cheese on my burger, that&aposs why it&aposs on my fries besides, what makes Shake Shack&aposs high prices and often lengthy waits worth putting up with is the quality of their meat. It&aposs just, well, it&aposs great. I like to be able to taste it𠅊 simple Shake Shack hamburger with pickles and onions is actually a thing of beauty it&aposs even better if you go for the double. (Just once, resist the urge to add condiments—you might be amazed.)
Try all the cheats you want, however—Shake Shack is still kind of a luxury item. Sure it&aposs good quality, but at those prices, don&apost you think that should be a given? I sure do. The miracle of In-N-Out, to me, and to generations of Californians, long before I ever showed up to stake my claim, is the fact that it&aposs not only decent quality, but also highly accessible. In-N-Out is perhaps one of the most democratic institutions ever to grace this great democracy.
Like everywhere, In-N-Out&aposs prices have been creeping upward in recent years, but the fact remains that there are almost no barriers to enjoying a burger at In-N-Out𠅊 perfectly cooked hamburger, piled high with fresh vegetables and slathered judiciously with tasty spread, still costs just $2.25. With cheese, it&aposs $2.55. The house special, the Double Double, which is quite enough to feed a normal person for one meal, is $3.70. Fries, like them or don&apost like them, are hand-cut all day long and cost $1.70 for a generously-sized order shakes are an exceedingly reasonable $2.30. Famously, that&aposs about the extent of the menu.
If you ordered a basic burger, fries and a shake at In-N-Out, you&aposre looking at spending (depending on the location—those prices are from the Los Angeles area) about $6.50. There are plenty of markets where a burger, medium fries and a shake at McDonald&aposs can cost more than that, and let&aposs not even get started on the difference in quality. This is what, maybe a little more than a third of the cost of a conservative (and comparable) Shake Shack order? That&aposs right—you can eat at In-N-Out roughly three times, for the cost of one trip to Shake Shack. And yet, somehow, we&aposre still having this discussion. Maybe let&aposs stop now?
Happy 10th Birthday, Shake Shack! Your Fans Have Waited In Line 109 Million Minutes For You
Ten years ago today, Shake Shack opened its doors in Madison Square Park and rocked New York City, and later the world, with its burgers and fries. What started as a hot dog cart in Madison Square Park grew into a permanent fixture in the park selling way more than just hot dogs. Today, Shake Shack has almost three dozen locations worldwide, with stores in London, Dubai, Turkey and Russia.
Almost as famous as Shake Shack's burgers are Shake Shack's lines. All locations, but particularly the original Madison Square Park one, sees long lines that have become infamous among food lovers and fair-weather fans alike. Shake Shack told The Huffington Post that wait times at the Madison Square Park average 30-45 minutes, but it really depends on the weather, the time of day and the special menu items available. Wait times could be as short as five to 10 minutes -- if you're lucky.
As the Shake Shack brand grew and the line continued to grow, wait times became a fixture in the brand's image -- almost a badge of honor for some. In 2006, Shake Shack introduced the ShackCam, whereby customers can "check the line to plan [their] time."
Users of the ShackCam or not, people are still flocking to Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. Shake Shack told The Huffington Post that this location serves an average of 1,500 customers a day. Based on Shake Shack's wait-time estimates, you could conservatively estimate a wait time of at least 20 minutes. With 1,500 customers a day waiting at least 20 minutes each, people are standing in line for a long, long time for a ShackBurger. How long to be exact? Over the course of 10 years, with 1,500 people a day waiting at least 20 minutes, seven days a week, Shake Shack fans have been waiting:
This past Tuesday, June 10, Shake Shack in Madison Square Park saw its longest line ever. The occasion was a special burger dreamed up by Momofuku chef David Chang. In honor of its anniversary, Shake Shack has been celebrating all week by collaborating with some of New York's best chefs to serve up an impressive collection of burgers. Each day of the week, Shake Shack is serving a new burger made in collaboration with a different chef.
David Chang worked with Shake Shack Culinary Development Manager Mark Rosati to create his burger, which is called the Shrimp Stack. It's a Shack beef-blend cheeseburger topped with a smoked and griddled shrimp patty, Momofuku Hozon Sauce, Bibb lettuce, pickled onion and salted cucumber. The hozon sauce comes from Momofuku's very own culinary lab, and has never before been tried by the public before the Shrimp Stack. Chang told The Huffington Post that he's a fan of Shake Shack -- and that he prefers it to In-N-Out. He certainly knew what to do to make Shake Shack's burger his own.
Chang's burger drew a line over 400 people long. A mere 30 minutes after Shake Shack opened, the line had already broken a record. The Shrimp Stack Burger was amazing, in case you're wondering. The line was a true testament to the talent and global appeal of both David Chang and Shake Shack.
How long would you wait in line to try this burger?
Boom. Broke longest line record today @shakeshack Madison square park today w @momofuku shrimp stack celebration pic.twitter.com/wzirkJulVk&mdash Dave Chang (@davidchang) June 10, 2014
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Shake Shack Sloppy Joes
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.
Shake Shack Sloppy Joes are made with a copycat Shake Shack sauce. A sloppy burger filling topped with cheese on a potato bun your kids will love.
Copycat Recipes for fast food eats are always a hit. From the creative adaptation Big Mac Sloppy Joes to long-time favorites like KFC Original Chicken, readers love these drive-thru classics.
SHAKE SHACK SLOPPY JOES
In just a few short years, Shake Shack has grown from a single food cart in New York to an international phenomenon. If you’ve had the pleasure of visiting, it’s easy to see what the hype is all about. Their Shake Shack Sauce is amazing by itself, but combined with their burgers it creates something truly special.
They have a slightly crispy crust at the edges that contrasts the soft, pillowy potato roll that they come on. They keep it simple with the toppings: just American cheese, tomato, lettuce, and that Sauce. Each bite is pure delicious, get the double burger so you can have twice the goodness.
Even after years after opening, the lines haven’t died down at many Shake Shack locations. Instead of trying to fight the crowds during the dinner rush, you can make these Shake Shack Sloppy Joes at home. Made as simply as the Shake Burger itself, they just as tasty. Plus you don’t have to pay extra for seconds.
One thing that sets Shake Shack apart is their crinkle cut fries, but you can make your own meal with Shoestring Fries (or just baking some frozen fries while you’re making the sloppy joes.) Smother them in cheese and bacon for an extra special side!
Fake shack burger
The last time I incubated of future generation of my family, my OB’s office — a place you cumulatively spend a spectacular amount of time over the course of 40 weeks — was diagonally across the street from the Upper West Side Shake Shack, and I only ate there once. I understand if this means we can no longer be friends I am personally embarrassed to know this about me too. Where were my priorities? I have spent years mourning this missed opportunity to not only eat a weekly Shackburger but to have made better use of my last weeks of kid-free leisurely lunches for years to come. The reason is even less sympathetic: I didn’t like hamburgers, or so I thought. They were so thick, so dauntingly large and one-note, so soft and damp inside, I couldn’t for the life of me imagine what made them popular.
In the final week before my firstborn was given an eviction notice, my husband joined me for an appointment and afterward, gently pulled me in the direction of the Shake Shack. It was the middle of a weekday and there was barely a line, if you can imagine something so absurd. I settled in for a burger and fries and … can I pause for a moment? I’m getting verklempt, guys… I had a moment and that moment was a realization that I didn’t dislike burgers I disliked those monstrous things that were all the rage a few years ago. This burger was totally different — thin, unevenly shaped craggy-edged with crispy salty bits and it sat on a tender toasted bun with a perfect sauce, thinly sliced pickles, tomatoes, a ruffle of lettuce and yet wasn’t too tall to eat a bite of without unhinging my jaw like a snake that swallowed a goat (I’m sorry, second reference in one month, I can stop anytime). It wasn’t so massive that I had to take a nap when I was done, it was my first smash-style burger and it was everything. It’s probably for the best that this guy came along the next week, because I cannot imagine the trouble I would have gotten into if I had many more excuses to eat there.
My current OB, 300x more delightful than my old one, is far from any Shake Shacks, but now that I’ve seen the error of my earlier ways and also rather obsessively crave a weekly burger this time around, I think we can agree it’s probably for the best. As one of those city-dwellers without a grill (stupid laws keeping us 8 million safe, sigh), I’ve always assumed that we’d just never make great hamburgers at home. But then, in January, Epicurious published an obsessively detailed, drool-inducing, behind-the-scenes article about the making of a Shackburger and even in the throes of that first trimester of food loathing, I realized two things: 1. I could totally make my favorite burger at home with zero special tools or fancy ingredients. 2. I needed it to happen — I mean did you read that part about “a rotating metal drum stays perpetually lathered in melted butter?” That the burger is “smashed into juicy, sublime submission” as “the meat starts to caramelize in its own fat, forming those crispy nooks and crannies that make it the English muffin of burgers?” COME ON — right that very second.
… Give or take a few months. This is my Memorial Day gift to those of us left unsatisfied by thick slabs of grilled burgers and or bereft of outdoor grills: a perfect burger which you can pair with my favorite oven fries, a solid slaw, glorious lemonade or milkshakes and a big fat wedge of watermelon for a dream of a quick, inexpensive summer dinner at home with nary a fly to swat away. Hallelujah.
Fake Shack Burger
Perfect as written and described from Epicurious
First, I want you to read this article in its entirety and tell me what steel you’re made of if you can get through it without booking a ticket to NYC for the sole purpose of being one with a Shackburger as soon as possible. Now, let’s talk about a bunch of things I learned about the Shake Shack burger from the article:
- They are always served on a potato roll from Martin’s Famous Pastry Shoppe in Pennsylvania. Not “Made for Shake Shack” Edition, not specially sized or packaged, but the exact same ones I found in large volumes at nearly every store in my neighborhood.
- They’re only toasted on the inside. At the burger stands, they use the aforementioned “rotating drum perpetually lathered in melted butter” (swoon), but at home, we’re going to toast them in our frying pan.
- Shake Shacks use Pat LaFrieda high-quality ground beef, and while they can’t say what fat ratio or blend they use, they told the writer that /20” was a good place to start. I bought mine at a small butcher shop in the West Village which uses a blend of brisket, short rib and sirloin. 80/20 is fatty it will splatter like crazy. But that’s why god invented splatter screens and paper towels, right?
- The patties used there aren’t patty-shaped but arrive in two-inch tall, four-ounce pucks. They’re cooked extra-cold from special fridges — we’re going to copy this by putting our in the freezer for 15 minutes first — not for food safety reasons, but when that cold puck hits the very hot grill, it browns extremely well but retains its juices because the fats haven’t fully melted inside.
- Smashing the pucks into patties is surprisingly hard! Of course, at Shake Shacks they have specially designed heavyweight smasher spatulas at home, Epicurious recommends that you use two spatulas, one for pressing and the handle of the other to kind of hammer the pressing spatula flat. I did this on my first batch and it was not terribly easy, especially with the splatters of hot grease making me want to pull my hands far away from the pan. I then switched to this insane meat pounder I bought a few years ago and it was so much easier. As most people don’t buy 2-pound meat pounders just for the heck of it, find something in your kitchen with a solid weight to make this process easier.
- Nobody, of course, has the recipe for their Secret Sauce, but I rather liked Epicurious’s version, shared below
1 pound freshly ground beef (3/4 pound ground sirloin + 1/4 pound brisket is recommended, but if you can’t find, use chuck) with an 80/20 fat ratio
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 teaspoons juice from a pickle jar
1 1/2 teaspoons ketchup
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more if needed
4 potato rolls, preferably Martin’s brand
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 slices cheese, American or whatever you like on burgers, if you’re making cheeseburgers
Four 1/4-inch-thick tomato slices
Thinly sliced pickles, if desired
4 burger-sized pieces green-leaf lettuce (I used curly green leaf lettuce)
Prepare the meat: Form the meat into four equal-sized four-ounce meat “pucks,” roughly 2 1/2 inches thick. Place them on a plate lined with plastic wrap or waxed paper and freeze for 15 minutes, but no longer. We don’t want to freeze the meat, but we’d like it to be extra-cold when it hits the pan.
Make the sauce: Combine all of the ingredients, tasting it and making any adjustments you’d prefer. A dash of hot sauce, perhaps?
Toast the buns: Heat a griddle, large cast-iron skillet (my first choice and recommendation), or large heavy stainless-steel skillet over medium heat. Melt the butter and place the buns, cut-side down, in the pan. Cook until cut sides are golden-brown, about 1 to 2 minutes. Place toasted buns on four plates you’ll keep using your griddle or skillet.
Cook the burgers: Remove patties from freezer. Increase heat to high and add 2 tablespoons oil to the griddle or skillet — you’ll need this only for your first burger batch after you’ve made a couple or if you’re scaling the recipe up, the fat from the earlier burgers will be sufficient — heat until oil begins to smoke, at least two minutes. Working one at a time, add a patty to griddle and immediately flatten it to a 1/2-inch thickness with a heavy spatula and something with weight and heft (the handle of a second spatula, a meat pounder, etc. see details up top) to help it along. You’ll have to “hammer” harder than you might think to flatten the patties out. A second spatula can be used to help remove the hamburger stuck to the flattening one, so not to tear the patty. Generously season with salt and pepper. Repeat with remaining patties.
Once the first side is deeply browned with crisp, craggly edges, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes for medium — mine were all quite black when they were flipped, and yet still totally pink inside when we cut into them it will be hard to overcook them at this high heat — use a spatula to scrape underneath the patty and flip it over. Cover with a slice of cheese if making cheeseburgers, and cook 1 to 2 minutes more, until melted. Repeat process with remaining patties.
Assemble burgers: Transfer cooked patties to toasted burger buns. Spread top buns with prepared sauce. Top burgers with tomatoes, lettuce, pickles (if using) and immediately dig in.
Serve this this with: My favorite oven fries, slaw, glorious lemonade or milkshakes, and a big fat wedge of watermelon.
Sweetgreen and Shake Shack are going all in on drive-throughs. They’re not alone
Drive-throughs are on special order at many restaurants as owners race to put customers at ease during the pandemic and prepare for a food service future increasingly ruled by convenience.
Quick-service specialists such as Sweetgreen and Shake Shack are planning their first stores with drive-through lanes, while existing operators are scrambling to build new car service portals or jerry-build temporary openings to serve customers behind the wheel.
The efforts run counter to recent urban planning thinking in which some cities seek to limit new drive-throughs to reduce auto emissions and litter, bring down obesity and improve pedestrian safety.
Drive-throughs and outdoor dining patios are rare bright spots in the restaurant industry, which has seen many businesses fold or endure a sustained battering from COVID-19 restrictions on communal dining and the reluctance of many diners to venture far from the safety of home.
Some eating places around the country have even revived carhop service, a dine-in-your-vehicle option that presumably contributes to restaurant and patron survival. (On Friday, Los Angeles County officials removed the ban on outdoor dining but imposed restrictions.)
Investors have taken note. Los Angeles retail real estate brokers at CBRE said properties with drive-throughs have jumped to 90% of their sales business from about half in the last 12 months as investors flee from strip centers and other struggling retail venues to places were customers are actively spending money.
COVID-19 anxiety has lifted sales at restaurants people can patronize by briefly rolling down their car windows, said shopping center landlord Sandy Sigal, president of NewMark Merrill Cos. The Woodland Hills landlord controls 450 restaurants in 85 U.S. centers.
“The stores that had drive-throughs during this pandemic, their business went off the charts,” Sigal said, citing data his company collected.
Drive-throughs are easy to build, he said, but not easy to operate when customers pour in.
“What’s truly hard is to make sure that line keeps moving,” he said, and hand customers their food within 10 minutes. “Who wants to spend their lunch hour sitting in a car?”
While drive-throughs have long been associated with burgers and other inexpensive fast food, more pricey competitors in the fast-casual category such as Chipotle, Shake Shack and Sweetgreen are moving into drive-throughs, according to a recent report by Credit Suisse.
Sweetgreen has been eyeing drive-throughs of its own for a decade, co-founder Nicolas Jammet said, and had been making plans in recent years to build them.
“Then COVID hit,” he said, “and we looked at our customers and said, now is the time to fast-track this and bring it to life.”
The national restaurant chain, which is based in Culver City, positions itself as a healthy-food-oriented competitor to the cheap and fast hamburger purveyors that pioneered the drive-through market and still dominate it.
During the pandemic, “a lot more customers are reluctant to come inside,” said Jammet, who is co-chief executive.
Sweetgreen has historically catered to a tech-savvy customer base, he said. Even before the pandemic, about half of the orders at Sweetgreen’s 120 restaurants were placed and paid for digitally, for pickup or delivery.
The company strives to “reduce friction” for customers and make ordering nutritious food “fast, convenient and cool,” Jammet said. Drive-throughs are part of that strategy and will become more common as Sweetgreen expands beyond city centers into the suburbs.
The first Sweetgreen with a drive-through is set to open later this year in Highlands Ranch, Colo., a neighborhood south of Denver.
Drive-through customers will be required to order ahead on the company’s phone app. Another option for the drivers will be to park in a pavilion with intercoms where they can order salads, warm bowls and other menu items to be delivered by carhops.
“We’re going to bring our food to the same kind of convenience channels that so many Americans are used to,” he said.
Upmarket New York burger joint chain Shake Shack, which has been operating on a to-go-only basis during the pandemic, announced in October that it will open its first drive-through late this year, with as many as eight by the end of 2022.
Chief Executive Randy Garutti in an earnings call described them as “a modern version of the traditional drive lane experience,” and a rendering of a prototype in trade publication QSR Magazine showed three car lanes — two for drive-through service and a third for pick-ups placed through phone apps.
Chipotle Mexican Grill introduced drive-throughs two years ago and opened its 100th “Chipotlane” in July. The Newport Beach company said such lanes will be included in 60% of its new stores, even though they require more staff than restaurants without drive-throughs.
New Chipotles with drive-throughs outperformed new Chipotles without them by 25% last year, according to Credit Suisse.
Such numbers are driving investment dollars to drive-throughs, said property broker Alex Kozakov of CBRE. “All the demand from investors has shifted to that sector” from other types of retail real estate, he said, and lenders are comfortable backing it.
Other businesses people can patronize without getting out of their cars are also prospering during the pandemic, including drive-through carwashes and rapid vehicle maintenance services such as Jiffy Lube.
Motels, long the orphans of the hospitality industry, stand to gain popularity as people hit the road again and seek to avoid interior spaces.
Investors “feel that that’s where the most security is right now,” Kozakov said. “Whether it’s today or in the future, if we have a pandemic, [drive-throughs] will be able to survive.”
One of the growing drive-through categories during the pandemic has been coffee, he said, a daily staple many are unwilling to forgo.
Starbucks is the java juggernaut, but one mom-and-pop caffeine shop in the Cypress Park district of Los Angeles has rigged up a temporary solution to compete by turning its side door for deliveries into a drive-through.
“We’ve been getting a lot of customers from the Starbucks down the street” who notice that the car line is shorter at 1802 Roasters, co-owner Christian Degracia said.
The neighborhood coffeehouse on Cypress Avenue has been open about a year and did 95% of its business through the drive-through when outdoor dining was banned by health officials, he said.
“At first we were concerned folks wouldn’t buy into it,” Degracia said. But “the response has been great. This has been working out for us so far, even with the shutdown.”
He’ll miss having car service when indoor dining returns and he needs the door again, he said. “Although the shop wasn’t built to be a drive-through, it was definitely fun operating it as one.”
The popularity of drive-throughs in a pandemic shouldn’t surprise anyone, Bay Area real estate consultant David Greensfelder said.
“People still want to eat out,” he said, “or are having a hard time shopping. It gives them another option.”
Early beginnings and concept
In 2000, New York City began the rebuilding of Madison Square Park, which had fallen into a state of disrepair and misuse. As part of the redevelopment, restaurateur Danny Meyer helped spearhead the creation of the Madison Square Park Conservancy to help redevelop it. One of the first things the Conservancy did in its goal to improve the park was to host an art exhibit called "I <3 Taxi" inside of the park to raise awareness of the renewal effort.  Meyer's Director of Operations, Randy Garutti, established a hot dog cart which was run out of the kitchen of Eleven Madison, one of Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG) operations. Over time, the cart became extremely successful, and remained in operation for nearly three years. 
In 2004, the city began taking bids to operate a new kiosk-style restaurant within the park Meyer outlined his idea for the space, and opened the first Shake Shack in July 2004. From its beginning the restaurant was not designed to be a chain it was intended to be a single shop location designed specifically for New York City. However, as the original location's sales continued to grow, the group realized that there was a market for expansion. 
Since its opening, Shake Shack has grown to be the largest part of the USHG's portfolio. Its average store revenue of US$4 million is more than twice that of McDonald's average store revenue within the United States.  Its popularity is such that in the summer at its original location, the wait in line for service can stretch to over an hour, especially on weekends when the weather is pleasant. A webcam on the restaurant's web page shows the current line in real time.  
In June 2010, Shake Shack opened its first restaurant outside of New York City at the Lincoln Road Mall in Miami Beach's South Beach neighborhood.    In April 2017 the location completed a month-long renovation that added 586 square feet of space, bringing its seating capacity to 106. 
On July 12, 2010, Shake Shack restaurants were opened in the Theater District  and the Upper East Side.   The Upper East Side location's opening was significant because it "lifted" East 86th Street, an urban shopping district which had fallen on hard times the location had been vacant, and even when occupied, it was described by a neighbor as "never anything good there. dingy and dilapidated. almost an eyesore." 
In July 2011, it was announced that Shake Shack had reached a deal with the MTA to open a location in the lower level of Grand Central Terminal.  This project was delayed because the tenant occupying the space Shake Shack was to take over, Mexican eatery Zócalo, refused to vacate after the expiration of their lease and filed suit, arguing that the "bidding process (for retail space in Grand Central) is corrupted."  The suit was dismissed and Zócalo appealed. In October 2012 Zócalo filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.  In early May 2013, Zócalo vacated the space, and the new outlet opened for business on October 5, 2013. 
Shake Shack opened its first airport location in May 2013 in JFK's newly expanded Terminal 4. 
IPO and continued expansion
By August 2014, Shake Shack outlets had begun operating in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Washington, D.C., Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Texas.  That month, reports surfaced that the company was preparing to go public with an IPO and was discussing an underwriting with a number of investment banks, including J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs.  
On January 29, 2015, Shake Shack priced its IPO at $21 per share. On the morning of January 30, 2015, it began trading on the NYSE at $47 per share under the ticker symbol SHAK. In April 2015, shares hit prices of $72, and hit a high of about $90 in May 2015.  In its IPO filing, the company stated that it planned to expand its domestic footprint to 450 company-operated stores. While no end date was given for that expansion, the company indicated its intention to open at least 10 restaurants each fiscal year, though it later amended that target to 12 a year and then again later in 2016 to 14 stores a year, a goal that would result in a total of 450 stores in approximately 25 years.  Later that May, Shake Shack filed for a trademark for the term "chicken shack" leading to speculation that the company would serve chicken sandwiches.  The company temporarily introduced chicken sandwiches to its Brooklyn on July 7, 2015.  In January 2016, Shake Shack introduced chicken sandwiches across locations in the United States, having previously started serving them at all Brooklyn Shake Shack locations. 
On August 31, 2016, Shake Shack announced it would begin room service at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, the first hotel in America to offer in-room Shake Shack. 
In November 2016, the first Houston, Texas, location opened inside the Galleria by March 2017, another opened inside Minute Maid Park in Downtown Houston, with another to open there in August 2019, the 5th overall in the city. The city's 3rd opened at Rice Village in March 2018. By December, the city's 4th opened in Montrose district. In mid-December 2016, Delaware opened its very first in Newark. In February 2017, the first Michigan location was opened in downtown Detroit.  A second Michigan location in Troy opened on October 25, 2017. On May 10, 2017, Shake Shack opened their first Kentucky location at The Summit at Fritz Farm in Lexington.  That June, the company announced a location would open in Charlotte, North Carolina, in late 2017, becoming the first Shake Shack in the Carolinas.  California's 5 locations were all in L.A. County, until the 6th had opened in San Diego on October 20, 2017 at Westfield UTC. The other San Diego location opened in Mission Valley in late 2017,  as did a South Bay location in El Segundo in October. 
On October 10, 2018, Shake Shack announced that it will officially start operations in Singapore at Jewel Changi Airport in 2019.  As of 2021 [update] , there are 5 locations in the city-state. 
On June 27, 2019, Shake Shack opened in Mexico City at Paseo de la Reforma, one of Mexico's busiest streets. The opening was so popular that on opening day, people had it wait in line for about two hours.  The restaurant chain is expected to open 30 locations in Mexico by 2029, beginning with the next location in the south of Mexico City in Coapa. 
On August 3, 2019, Utah's first location opened in the suburb of Sandy and was built into a 90-year-old historic elementary and high school. 
On April 16, 2021, the first Shake Shack in Oregon opened in Beaverton. A second restaurant is scheduled to open in downtown Portland in 2022. 
Paycheck Protection Program relief
In April 2020, Shake Shack applied for funding through the Paycheck Protection Program due to lost business during the COVID-19 pandemic. It received $10 million.  Shake Shack was criticised for utilizing a loophole in the program which allowed it to qualify for monetary aid meant to help small businesses. The company operates 189 locations in the U.S., but only employs around 45 persons at each restaurant.  Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti then said it would return the $10 million so that "restaurants who need it most can get it now."  In July, it was revealed that Shack Shake founder Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group took a total of between $11 and $27 million in PPP funding. Meyer was unapologetic about receiving the relief funds, despite the fact that the firm employs a total of 2,300 employees. When the Shake Shack relief funding was revealed, he had earlier appeared on at least one podcast stating that its acceptance of PPP funding was irresponsible. 
Shake Shack has frequently been the headlining restaurant at The Infatuation's EEEEEATSCON food festival in Santa Monica, California and Forest Hills, New York. Culinary Director Mark Rosati is known for creating exclusive burger and shake collaborations local restaurants for the festival. In 2018 he collaborated with Brooklyn's Emily restaurant to create a Shack-style burger topped with American cheese, a special “Emmy” sauce and caramelized onions. The burger was so popular that tickets for the event sold out one week in advance, and it was described as a "mash-up of pizza and burger flavors" and "transcendent".   In 2019 he collaborated with Petit Trois in Santa Monica  and Uncle Boons in Forest Hills. 
The company sells Shake Shack T-shirts, sunglasses, and other accessories, called Shack Swag.  
Shake Shack's shakes have been reviewed as "some of the best in the industry".  It also sells chicken burgers, fries, hot dogs, frozen custards, and beer and wine.  In each new location, the beverage menu is customized to the local flavors of the city in which it operates.  Their most famous product is the ShackBurger. Available in single or double, it contains a beef patty, American cheese, lettuce, tomato and a proprietary sauce known as Shack Sauce.
In June 2020, employees of a Shake Shack restaurant in Lower Manhattan were falsely accused of poisoning two police officers with bleach after they reported that their shakes had a strange taste.      The accusations originated online from the Detectives' Endowment Association and the Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York and were widely shared on social media before being reported by numerous media outlets.  A police investigation found no criminality on the part of the Shake Shack workers and the restaurant was cleared of wrongdoing.  Shake Shack later stated that the strange taste of the drinks may have been caused by faulty cleaning of a milkshake machine. 
The New Golden Age of the Fast-Food Burger
If you pay any attention to the food service industry — and why wouldn't you? What other sector of the economy has so direct a relationship to your quality of life? — you're probably aware of the meteoric rise of the "fast-casual sector." Fast-casual is essentially a bet that fast-food customers will spend a bit more and wait a bit longer for higher quality food. The bet seems to be paying off: fast-cazh (that's how you spell the first syllable in casual) grew almost twice as fast as regular fast food last year.
Leading the category is Cali-style-burrito purveyor Chipotle, whose explosive growth has spawned dozens of imitators vying to be "the Chipotle of [pizza/sushi/Chinese food]." But the big prize, this being America, is the burger market, where a bevy of rivals led by Virginia's venerable Five Guys and Denver's ambitious Smashburger are competing to bring a better Big Mac to every retail strip.
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These up-starts have forced McDonald's to fight on their turf: this month the chain introduced a $5 "Sirloin Third Pound" burger. But quality burger initiatives at the Golden Arches have a history of failure, from the Arch Deluxe debacle of the mid-'90s to the Angus Third Pounder, which met its demise just two years ago. It's hard to improve the quality of food at 15,000 restaurants, and even harder to overcome the most powerful brand associations in the world.
So who will be the victor in the coming burger wars? We set out to find out.
Shake Shack: The beef in Shake Shack's Shackburger is a custom blend from Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors, who also make much more expensive patties for New York City's Minetta Tavern and the Spotted Pig. It's pungent, even musky, with a distinctive gummy chew. (My guess is a higher brisket-to-chuck ratio in the meat, although the exact mix is a trade secret.) The bun is a butter-toasted Martin's potato roll, with a mild sweetness that might seem familiar if you had a happy childhood. Meat and bun dominate the experience the cheese and vegetables and light glaze of Thousand Island dressing (sorry, "Shack Sauce") are just accents. It feels like you're eating a fancy restaurant’s version of a fast-food burger, which is pretty impressive since they’re turning them out in 63 locations from Vegas to Kuwait.
In-N-Out Burger: Whereas a Double-Double from western stalwart In-N-Out Burger feels like an ordinary fast-food burger that has somehow ascended to greatness — as though you're eating the burger depicted in a Carl's Jr. or McDonald's commercial rather than the burger you're actually served at one of those places. Compared to Shake Shack, In-N-Out's burger is less about a delicious piece of perfectly cooked beef and more about the sandwich's gestalt. The fresh, crisp toppings and flavorful cheese play a substantial role in the overall taste profile. The meat isn't gristly the way it sometimes is at Burger King, but it's dry and a bit greasy. Ask for it "animal style" and it comes cooked in mustard (which helps), with chopped onions and extra Thousand Island dressing (sorry, "spread").
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Smashburger: Smashburger is named for the cooking technique used to make the burgers: the cooks smush them down on the griddle to get a toasty crust on one side. The meat itself is just good ground chuck, but the smashing gives it a uniquely dense, complex flavor. It feels like a high-quality homemade burger, especially if you get the half-pound Big Smash instead of the regular third-pounder, but there's something satisfying about that. Also, I’ve eaten dozens of burgers at three different Smashburger locations, and they all arrived piping hot, which never happens anywhere else. There are lots of choices by way of bun and topping, most of them foolish — stick with a Classic Smash, which comes on an egg bun with Thousand Island dressing (sorry, "Smash Sauce") and the usual suspects.
Five Guys: When Five Guys began to expand from its suburban-Virginia origins in the early days of the century, its only real competitors were the ubiquitous national chains. (The venerable In-N-Out had been open for 40 years at the time, but it was a continent away.) You can see how people who are used to Wendy's might be impressed by a burger that’s been cooked to order, with a nice variety of toppings. But we have higher standards now, and with Shake Shack and Smashburger aggressively expanding, it's hard to see a place for Five Guys's stringy, underseasoned patties, thin buns, and unreliable preparation. They don't even have Thousand Island dressing.
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