Even though I am trying to reduce my red meat intake my pursuit of the perfect burger continues. My favorite burger place in the Washington, DC metro area (brgr: shack) inexplicably closed after less than a year of operation, so I am continuing my search.
With that end in mind a friend and I checked out the Dupont Circle location of Shake Shack a few hours before we went to the Comedy Factory (which is less than a half-block away). I had been told that there are often lines out the door but at 6pm on a Tuesday we were able to get in and order what we wanted right away. Shake Shack is also known for its frozen custard as well as its burger. In fact it's "Shack Burger" narrowly lost to the cheeseburger at New York City's Burger Joint in a recent online poll, which is quite a feat because Burger Joint is probably the best burger place in the United States.
So, I ordered the ShackBurger (cheeseburger topped with lettuce, tomato and ShackSauce) with added bacon ($4.75+$1.25), crinkle-cut Yukon fries ($2.75) and a large 50-50 (half-lemonade, half-iced tea). My receipt says the same thing, but for some reason my burger had bright red chopped cherry peppers on it (which you can see in the first picture above) which shouldn't be on the ShackBurger but does appear on the SmokeShack (cheeseburger with bacon but no letture or tomato). The burger is excellent, with a very fresh bun and excellent crunchy bacon and melted cheese gooeyness to delight. I had ordered the single ($4.75) instead of the double ($7.25) and when I inhaled the burger I was still hungry. The cherry peppers are surprisingly spicy and piquant, not in a bad way, but they seem like an unnecessary distraction from the umami of the burger and the fresh smoothness of the bun, melted cheese and bacon.
However, the true revelation was the fries. I have said before that my quest for the best burger is really about the best burger in context. If you have a really good burger (like Burger Joint and Burger Lounge) but only mediocre fries (like Five Guys does), that loses you points in my book. Most burger places that I have sampled and reviewed have much higher quality burgers than fries. I can only think of a few places whose fries (or onion rings) improve the overall dining experience. That would include In-n-Out, Juicy Burger, and Go Burger (onion rings). Now Shake Shack should be added to my list of burger places with good burgers and great fries. For places with great burgers and great fries I would list Burger Joint, Blue Dog Beer Tavern, In-N-Out and the late (and much lamented) brgr:shack. I should probably qualify this list to say that this is for burgers that cost under $10. Otherwise the burger at Lazy Ox Canteen and Umami would have to be included on the list of great burgers with great fries/onion rings.
Anyway, back to Shake Shack. Since we were still hungry, I actually ordered another order of fries and their famous frozen custard. The flavor of the day was "honey roasted peanut" and it was incredible. The second order of fries were probably too much (we didn't finish half of them, together) but we cleaned out the custard!
I would definitely return to Shake Shack but I would make sure I make it clear I do not want any cherry peppers on my burger, and probably get a double.
Location: 1216 18th Street NW (Southwest corner of Connecticut avenue), Washington, DC.
Visit: April 17, 2013.