As luck would have it, a business trip in Washington DC has me downtown and right in the thick of the action. After meeting up with a friend for happy hour, we're searching through Yelp to see what's nearby and voila, Shake Shack! This small NYC chain has been getting a lot of press for its delicious take on the common hamburger and I couldn't resist since there are none in North Carolina!
This particular Shake Shack sports a narrow plate glass window front but the space winds back, long and deep! Up front, the menu on the wall offers up about 5 or 6 burgers, dogs, fries with equal importance given to the shakes and dessert to follow up the meal! I go with a double Smoke Shack (cheeseburger, bacon, red peppers and Shack sauce). Oh and what the heck, let's add some cheese fries to the order along with a DC Brau beer! We get a buzzer and head on back to the main dining area. This location sports some limited bar seating up front at the windows.
In back, we grab our condiments and napkins in anticipation of a messy but delicious meal. The dining room of this Shake Shack is full of rough-hewn woods and has a very organic feel to the space. It reminds me of my visit to Frank in Austin which instead, focused on hot dogs and sausages. Five or ten minutes later our buzzer goes off and it's time to eat! The tray of food is intimidating with lots of meat and potatoes, a true American meal. And everything looks DAMN good, yum!
I start to work on the cheese fries which are a glistening mess of carbs and dairy. Thin-cut shoestring potatoes with skin-on are delicious and nicely salted! The melted cheese sauce on top makes for a nice, lush saltiness for the potato. Trying the naked fries is equally delicious with a dip of ketchup to spice them up. Portion sizes for both fries are generous and could be shared amongst two people. Or one piggy like myself!
Moving on to the burger, it's a white paper wrapped beauty that's very nicely grilled. Potato bun, well-melted cheese, nice thick bacon and pungent red pepper layered on top makes for a great mouthful. You can tell just by its looks how good this burger is going to taste. And Shake Shack delivers on its delicious visual promise. Yep, the burger tasted as good as the picture above, I promise you that! The potato bun breaks apart a bit as potato buns are wont to do but the paper wrapper holds the meaty mess together. And it's worth all the messiness!
My friend Meghan confesses to me that she would normally never eat like this but being the bad influence I am, I got her out of her quinoa salad funk and into some greasy burgerness! Of course, now that we've gone this far, why hold back on dessert? I head back to the counter and order up a mint-chocolate chip shake to share and finish the meal, delish! Later on when I look at the bill, everything is very reasonably priced for an expensive city like DC. $8.80 for my double burger, $3.85 for the cheese fries and $2.85 for the regular fries. $6.50 for the shake is a bit pricey but not so much if you look at it as dessert! But overall I was pretty darned impressed with Shake Shack. Call it an upscale In n Out or Five Guys and you're getting close. It's really a delicious throw-back at a reasonable price for some classic American grill eats. And that makes this hungry boy really happy. So rock on Shake Shack!
1216 18th Street NW
Washington, DC 20036
4 stars out of 5