THIS IS A REVIEW OF THE TIMES SQUARE SHAKE SHACK.
My spouse and I stopped at the Midtown West location of Shake Shack for a late-night snack on a Friday evening in late May 2016. The 8th Avenue and West 44th Street outlet of Shake Shack, which opened in July 2010, serves lunch, dinner, and late night food daily. Because this is a counter/serve-yourself dine-in/take-away restaurant, you cannot make a reservation. We have walked past various Shake
Shack locations in New York City and have wanted to try it, but there always seems to be a long line. On this visit, we thought that by arriving close to closing time, the lines might be shorter; however, we still waited for a total of approximately 20 minutes, including time spent waiting in line to order, and then time spent waiting to pick up our order). This location offers a separate “C Line” to purchase cold items only. After we ordered and paid, we received a beeper/pager that went off when our order was ready for pick-up. Floor-to-ceiling windows in this corner location allow great people-watching from one of the booths or one of the high-top tables.
Manhattan locations for the Shake Shack include the Upper East Side, Upper West Side, Theatre District, Herald Square, Grand Central Station, Midtown West, Madison Square Park, and Battery Park City, as well as locations at other New York locations at JFK Airport, Flatbush and DUMBO (in Brooklyn), Queens, Saratoga, Westbury, Long Island, Woodbury Commons, Queens, and Forest Hills. In addition, you can find Shake Shack in 15 other US states, Japan, the Middle East, Russia, Turkey, and the UK. Shake Shack is part of the Danny Meyer Union Square Hospitality Group, which also owns Manhattan restaurants like Union Square Café, Gramercy Tavern, Blue Smoke, The Modern, Maialino, and the North End Grill, among others.
Shake Shack began in 2001 using a hot dog cart in Madison Square Park as an effort to support the Park Conservancy’s first art installation. The cart was successful, with patrons lined up daily for three summers. In 2004, a permanent kiosk opened in the park, and the Shake Shack phenomenon was born. Shake Shack is a modern day hamburger stand that serves burgers, hot dogs, frozen custard, shakes, and beverages. They also offer some canine-friendly items such as the “Pooch-ini” (frozen vanilla custard that contains dog biscuits and peanut butter) and the “Bag O’ Bones” (a doggie bag filled with biscuits). The chain uses all-natural Angus beef, vegetarian-fed, humanely raised, and source-verified. Shake Shack does not use hormones or antibiotics.
We shared two shack burgers (good), an order of French fries (not impressive), and a salted caramel shake w/whipped cream (excellent). We were surprised to find that the Midtown West Shake Shack serves alcoholic beverages.
We are glad to finally cross Shake Shack off our “to eat” list, but we are disappointed to say that we were not overwhelmed by the food. (Truthfully, we prefer In-n-Out Burger, although there are no locations in the eastern half of the United States.) We are clearly in the minority, though, based on the throngs of waiting diners; there is even an app with a live video feed so that you know how long you will have to wait. We are fans of Meyer’s Union Square Café and Gramercy Tavern, however, as well as Eleven Madison Park [which he no longer owns/operates], so maybe we will give Shake Shack another try sometime in the future.