Madison Ave and East 23rd St.
Southeast Corner of Madison Square Park
New York, NY 10010
I recently went on a quest to find the best burger in New York City. For the rest of the week, you’ll have my breakdown of what I discovered. This is post #1 of 5 related to trying out some of the best that New York has to offer. Hope you enjoy the series.
Looking for the best burger in New York City was a pretty easy proposition to get behind. There’s a lot of existing intel out there on burgers, they are relatively affordable, and they taste pretty good. After all, who doesn’t love a good burger? With a theoretical clean bill of health, I started with the Danny Meyer institution, Shake Shack.
No burger place in New York is more divisive than the Shake Shack. On one side, you have the raving fanatics who love the fresh, hand formed Pat LaFrieda patties, American cheese, basic condiments, and secret Shack Sauce.
On the other side, you have people who despise the long long lineups, the one hour waits, and the “good, but nothing special” aspect to the burger itself.
I had to find out for myself.
I showed up, post lunch, around 2:30pm hoping to dodge some of the legendary lineups. I’d been told that if i want something around lunch time, i had better show up before they opened at 11am, or else im looking at 30-45 minutes. Minimum. Weekends, more. The wait ended up being roughly 10-15 minutes to order. Not bad. Another15 minutes for our burger to arrive, we got in and out in under 30 minutes. Great timing.
They’ve separated their lineups into an A and B line. B line can get custards, paraphernalia, and milkshakes. Hot items, stay in line the long (A) line.
When looking over online reviews of the Shake Shack, one of the most common associations was to In N Out Burger. Both in simplicity of composition, and in taste.
The burgers themselves are a combination of brisket and sirloin, different than ground chuck used by most burger joints. Cooked to medium, they are available cooked to order. Unfortunately, my medium rare to medium, ended up being more medium well.
The patty itself was pretty similar to In N Out. A bit fattier, there was a definite richness and a nice flavour to the burger itself. Cooked at what must be a high temperature, there was a decent char on the outside, while maintaining a juicy, delicious interior.
A great part of the burger was the proportion – it was the right amount of bread, to lettuce, to tomato, to beef. The patty was ground reasonably coarse, but had a pretty smooth texture. The size of the overall burger was a bit disappointing.
Fries, which are not very well regarded in reviews, were exactly so. Nothing to write home about. The milkshakes and custards are supposed to be much better. I didnt have the stomach room, but they are almost universally lauded.
Overall, I thought the burger was pretty skimpy – especially for the wait, and the price ($4.75 for a single, $7 for a double). The flavour was nice, and the quality of the ingredients are not in question, but the difference between the Shack Burger and a Double Double doesn’t justify the 40% difference in cost, and the extra 20-80 minutes of wait time . This was a good hamburger, but not a great one. I’ll reserve judgement until I’ve tried some more of the competition.
For overall experience, I would still recommend it. If you are in NYC, and wish to have an interesting experience, it’s worth trying. Eating in Madison Square Park, getting buzzed by Pigeons and Squirrels aiming for your fries is a fun way to spend a lunch hour! If you’re just looking for a great burger with minimal hassle, try one of the next estabishments…
Next up: Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien