Manhattan, New York – Shake Shack

Restaurant: Shake Shack (Madison Square Park)
Last visited:
September 12, 2011
4 locations in Manhattan, NY 
11 Madison Ave (Gramercy/Flatiron) (Original location)
Nearby subway stop:
23rd Street
Price Range: 
$10 or less

1Poor 2OK 3Good 4Very good 5Excellent 6Tres Excellent!!

Food: 5.5
Service: 3
Ambiance: 5
Overall: 6
Additional comments:

  • Since 2004
  • New York’s most famous burger joint
  • Multiple award winning
  • “Best Burger in the City”
  • Local & tourist favourite
  • Long lines at peak hours
  • Basic old fashioned menu
  • Limited beer & wine
  • Cheap eats/budget friendly
  • Outdoor seating/Take-out
  • Daily 11am-11pm

**Recommendations: ShackBurger, Frozen Custard, Milkshakes

And there it was. In the middle of the park. A must try destination for any foodie who visits New York. Shake Shack or Love Shack? It was both! It’s a sacred shack where burger lovers unite, and although I wasn’t first in line, I was there to join hands with its loyal followers.

It only started in 2004 and it’s already grown with 4 locations throughout Manhattan. A sign of a successful burger joint whose line-up hasn’t died in any of its locations since day 1.

I visited the original location at Madison Square Garden and I got there at about 11:30am. Although there’s a guaranteed line up, I waited in total 30 minutes from the point of lining up to the point of getting my order. The half and hour wait wasn’t bad at all and it was worth it. I’d do it again.

Sure there are other fantastic burgers in the city that require no line ups, but Shake Shack is a New York tradition.

It’s the “In-N-Out Burger” of New York, and I bet eventually the East Coast. Everything from the food to the style was reminiscent of California’s famous In-N-Out Burger. And just like In-N-Out, and Katz’s Deli, Shake Shack is another institution that is a must try for tourists. It’s frequented by celebrities, locals and tourists alike and has been voted and named “New York’s Best Burger” numerous times.

ShackBurger & Fries. Just like In-N-Out Burger and Five Guys Burgers & Fries, the outcome was as simple as the menu.

The burger scene is intense and I must have walked by at least fifty burger joints in Manhattan. It doesn’t really surprise me though, as Vancouver jumped on the burger frenzy as well just over a year ago. From $1 burgers to $175 burgers, there is something for every budget in New York. I enjoy gourmet burgers on another level, but I don’t think it’s an item that has to be fancy to be enjoyed, and sometimes they’re best from a good ‘ol Shack.

The “best burger in New York” could be forever debated, but when it comes down to a solid burger at an excellent value, I’m confident that Shake Shack is a strong contender. With fresh, local, and quality ingredients, it’s more than acceptable for fast food and even much appreciated. In a nutshell, you can add me to the list of Shake Shack fans!

On the table:


  • American cheese, lettuce, tomato and ShackSauce. Single $4.50 Double $7
  • Our Black Angus burgers are 100% all natural. No hormones and no antibiotics ever. We grind our proprietary Shack blend fresh daily. Our burgers are cooked to medium and served plain unless otherwise requested. Let us know if you would like lettuce, tomato, pickle or onion.
  • I didn’t even notice until now I could order it with pickles and onions, I would have done it if I knew. Boo.
  • It’s a pretty small and plain burger, similar to the $2.75 one at In-N-Out Burger, and at $4.50 it was well worth it!
  • For sure the patty was good, but the bun was actually a huge supporting factor to what made it memorable.
  • It was a super soft, light and squishy potato bun that’s on the sweeter side of bread. It was the perfect ratio of bun to meat.
  • The bottom bun ends up getting a bit wet from absorbing all the meat juices and drippy sauces… which I think makes it yummy.

  • I could have used more whole leaf lettuce and more crunch, and I prefer the In-N-Out American cheese to this Velveeta like runny cheese, but it was still a delicious burger.
  • The cheese seemed more like the sauce and I actually didn’t even know there was an added ShakeSauce because I couldn’t taste it. If anything I tasted a sauce that I thought was just mayo.
  • The patty was actually cooked to medium which is almost unheard of coming from a fast food burger joint. I loved it! Medium rare would be even better for me!
  • The patty was fatty, tender and moist and it was super saucy, but I wish the meat juices were a bit more sealed inside the patty.
  • It had a meaty bite and beefy flavour, and no apparent seasoning.
  • The meat is hand formed and somewhat loosely packed together. They do seem thicker than the In-N-Out burger patties.
  • I’ve had juicier burgers like the one from Capital Grille (which was gourmet – see here).
  • For an under $5 burger I think I’m leaning more towards the In-N-Out burger, although the bun at Shake Shack was better.
  • Both are solid burgers and I wouldn’t complain about having either… hopefully one day even stacked upon each other.

Fries 3.5/6

  • $2.65
  • 100% free of artificial trans fats and made from Yukon Gold Potatoes. 25% less fat than average fries.
  • I’ve never been overly enthusiastic about crinkle cut fries. These were good and seasoned, but not a highlight.
  • The fries were light and crispy with smooth and creamy insides being made from Yukon Gold Potatoes, but I’m not sure I would have guessed it was a Yukon Gold Potato because they didn’t seem as sweet.
  • Personally I’ll always like McDonald’s french fries when it comes to fast food fries. I don’t really care that they’re more filler than potato, because they still taste great!

**Peach Compote Frozen Custard6/6

  • What happens when soft serve shacks up with premium ice cream! $3.25
  • Oh god… I haven’t had frozen custard since last year in Texas. I love this stuff! It’s more of a Southern treat, and I love it!
  • The Peach Compote was a seasonal special and it was amazing! I wanted another one.
  • The frozen custard I would say is a must try here. They couldn’t describe it any better.
  • It’s like McDonald’s soft serve ice cream, but custard flavoured and a bit icier. I liked it better than the Big Gay Ice Cream if I’m going to compare.
  • It has a sweet custard flavour and it’s sweeter than McDonald’s soft serve, but almost more refreshing too.
  • It has a bit of a grainy texture and it was topped with big chunks of stewed local sweet peaches. It was tender with the skins on and simply delectable!

Shake Shack (Madison Square Park) on Urbanspoon


  • Linda says:

    I LOVE SHAKE SHACK! i first saw it on the foodnetwork and have been back every time for it 🙂 nomnomnom.. i usually get the shack burger too but recently my friend introduced me to the shack stake shroom patty! its a Shroom patty (Crisp-fried portobello mushroom filled with melted munster and cheddar cheese), plus juicy burger topped with cheddar, topped with lettuce, tomato, and ShackSauce.

    here’s a pic from her blog:

    mmm i usually get the cheese fries – i recommend you get them the next time you’re there, it’s delicious! and i love that the madison square park location has a shack cam lol

  • Gary says:

    Taya and I hit up the Theater District Shake Shack location a couple times this summer when we were in NYC. Holy smokes, these burgers are definitely the bomb. I would say they are way better than In-N-Out, a couple notches ‘upscale’ based on their ingredients.

    What’s awesome is they use paint scrapers to assist in flipping the burgers to retain the caramelized goodness. Damn, I’m hungry now!

  • Bow says:

    The burger looks pretty good…too bad, no onion, no pickle…McDonald’s fries tasted a lot better when they used beef suet instead of safflower or canola oil. Didn’t want to try a shake while you were there ?

  • wyn says:

    Shake Shack! NPY and I went to NY 2 years ago and (why?) I ordered a hot dog while he ordered a burger. Thought we’d share but he ate all the burger and declared it the best and now when we go back in a month, I will get my own burger! Your New York posts are coming at the most fortuitous time for me and I look forward to your posts to make my list!

  • I too tried Shake Shack…it was good…but to me, not worth the hype, nor the line-up.

    I would much rather have a burger from Soho Park
    The buns are amazing, the patties juicy…just stay away from the zuke fries…which are soggy like a wet dog in the Vancouver rain.

    Having said that, it is still necessary to line up and try it at least once in your lifetime.

  • Mijune says:

    @Linda 0 I know!!! I’m so sad I missed the Shroom Burger!!! Next time!!! I was warned after this post today lol.

    @Gary – yeah it’s really “creme de la creme” of fast food burgers when you’re comparing In-N-Out and Shake Shack.. it comes down to personal tastes I think because both are solid under $5 burgers. Thanks for the paint scraper info Gary! 🙂

    @Bow – I had way too much food lol.. I went to line up for another custard.. and then I stopped myself.. I was also eating an Eisenberg pastrami sandwich… I know I missed out though… everyone tells me these milkshakes are killer. At least I know I can make good milkshakes at home though 😉

    @wyn – AWESOME!! so many FMF readers are going to NYC so I’m so happy that I’m doing this!!

    @Mademoiselle Macaron – exactly! It’s a must try for any tourists. I wrote that in my post too.. it’s just a NY institution and for under $5 I think it’s solid. You have to see it for what it is right? Or compare it in the category of other under $5 burgers. $2.50 In N-Out Burger, $4.50 Shake Shack Burger or $5 Five Guys burger… it’s all good. I mentioned that too.. that sure there are better burgers in NY but it’s not “Shake Shack”… so u still gotta try it! 🙂 Thanks for ur burger tip though! I had more burgers than this in NY… so no worries.. more burger tips coming!

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