A First Timer's Visit to Shake Shack

click to enlarge JESSICA ELIZARRARAS
Jessica Elizarraras

Texas has never suffered from a shortage of great burgers or fast-food options, so I’m always surprised when Texans tell me that Shake Shack — the popular East Coast chain known for its burgers, concretes and long wait times — is their favorite place.

I’ve never felt the need to wait in long lines, but in San Antonio, long waits are often part of the local experience (looking at you, gas shortages). So when Shake Shack opened its first San Antonio location two weeks ago, I decided to brave the lines and see if the burgers could live up to the hype.

Note: If you are visiting Shake Shack for the first time, I urge you to check your expectations. No, these burgers will not change your life. This is casual dining, not a Kendrick Lamar album.

When I arrived at Shake Shack at 6 p.m., there was already a line out the door. After 20 minutes of waiting and reviewing the menu, I decided on a no-frills, single Shack Burger. Each customer receives a burger buzzer that alerts you when your order is ready, which gives you time to find a seat or stock up on napkins and condiments. The restaurant interior tends to crowd quickly, but there are plenty of tables outside for eating or playing Ping-Pong, depending on your mood.

The burger patty was cooked a little longer than I prefer, but it was surprisingly juicy, and served with crisp, fresh lettuce and tomatoes. The buttery bun held the meat and tangy Shack Sauce together as I paused to enjoy hot, crispy crinkle-cut fries.

Shake Shack’s menu features several local specialties like the Lockhart Link Burger, made with Kreuz Market jalapeño cheese sausage links, and the Peanut Butter Park — delicious vanilla custard, peanut butter sauce and a not-too-rich peanut butter cookie from Bird Bakery — are just two reasons I’ll be going back.

Overall, Shake Shack has tasty, delicious food but you should expect to wait and pay more here than you would at other popular fast-food chains. For the amount I spent at Shake Shack, I could buy at least two shame meals at Wendy’s, but the concrete alone was worth the expense.

As I left the restaurant, the line had actually grown and continued around the corner of the building. Regardless of where you can find the best burgers in San Antonio, there’s a community that definitely wants Shake Shack here.

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