I have a really sad confession to make. I…haven’t been to New York City. I’m 33. I know, I need to go. A bunch of my friends live there and I miss every one of them. I’m a total penis. I’m still making up for time and (lots of) money since I was out of a job for about a year so I won’t be jet-setting anytime soon, but I have a job now. I hope to be there sooner rather than later.
Also, in case you were wondering (everyone asks this), food writing doesn’t pay, even though you eat well; it’s also not likely that I’ll get shipped out to the Big Apple for anything anytime soon. Even writing a bunch of articles probably wouldn’t pay for the trip. I’ll have to go turn tricks on the corner. Shouldn’t take long, though, because I have really soft hands.
When you say “burger” in the same sentence as “New York,” the first thing everyone shouts is, “Shake Shack!” I’d say the enthusiasm for Shake Shack is just below that of Hot Doug’s here in Chicago. But Hot Doug’s closed and a little piece of us all died. Like all good things eventually seem to do, Shake Shack came to Chicago. Fuck yes, bitches.
Shake Shack is busy. But like any well-oiled (sex) machine, the line moves quickly. In, and out, in, and out. The space is clean, nice, and sleek, and isn’t a drag to wait in. But forget about the space and the ambience, I’m not a Yelper. The food part that goes in your food hole is the important issue.
I ordered the Double Shackburger ($7.65), which is two thin griddled patties with American cheese, Shackburger sauce, lettuce, tomato, all on a Martin’s Potato Roll. If you’ve never had a Martin’s Potato Roll, they sell them at most of the local grocery stores here in Chicago — so you can try them yourself. They’re soft, slightly sweet, squishy, and delicious. A little like Hawaiian bread with less sugar.
The patties come with a delicious crisp crust. They’re placed on the griddle in a ball, smashed and cooked at an ultra-high temperature, which is what gets you that addictive lacy meat crust. I’m really trying to avoid a yo-momma joke with the term “meat crust,” so that means I must’ve grown up.
Meat crust jokes aside, it’s a great fast-food burger. It’s well salted and beefy, sandwiched in a spongy roll that surprisingly holds up. The Shackburger sauce, which is apparently like Thousand Island dressing, is hard to detect through the strong flavor of the beef. I’m sure it was wonderful. The lettuce and tomato are, well, your usual green and red, but I’ve always been a fan. The vegetation helps alleviate a little of the spiritual dilemma you get from eating 770 calories of ground-up and griddled cow disc. Overall, high-five. Do it if you’re in Hell. And by Hell, I mean River North.
The crinkle-cut cheese fries ($3.90) are good, but not amazing. They’re made from Yukon Gold potatoes, which result in a softer and smoother fry with an inner texture like mashed potatoes. The cheese sauce is silky and salty, a blend of American and cheddar cheeses, like a thicker and much more flavorful version than ballpark nacho cheese sauce. Overall, totally fine. You won’t miss anything without the cheese, and since you won’t listen to me anyway, who cares?
However, my friends, overall, it’s a pretty stiff bill. The Double Shackburger, Cheese Fries, and Chocolate Malt will cost you a whopping $19.01 with tax. Holy shit. That’s enough to give your wallet instant diarrhea. The malt was great, by the way, with a deep chocolate flavor, kind of like your mo–uh, it’s good. And thick. Like your mom. Goddammit. Ladies and gentlemen, I tried.
So here’s my recommendation. Go to Fatso’s Last Stand on Chicago and Oakley Avenue. Get the Double Fatso ($6.00, pictured above) with cheese and grilled onions and an order of their perfectly cooked fries ($2.00) and cup of cheddar ($1.50). They don’t have malts, but you’ll be okay without them, I promise. And it’s cheaper, too. Their patties are char-grilled as opposed to griddled, giving them a charred backyard barbecue flavor, which is a good reminder of summer during Chicago’s eighty months of winter. The biggest difference is that the beef at Fatso’s Last Stand is insanely juicy. It’s almost unreal.
Everything else is almost the same. It even comes with the same little burger diaper to keep you from spotting up those skin-tight jeans you’re wearing.
I mean, come on. Just look at that. Either way, you can’t go wrong, but given the choice, I’m totally hitting up Fatso’s.