Cheap Eats 2011: Shake Shack

Among Big Apple imports to Washington, none has been more anticipated than Danny Meyer’s tribute to a burger joint, which opened near DC’s Dupont Circle in May; a kiosk also opened this summer at Nationals Park. Customers have been lining up since day one.

What’s the big deal? The burgers are superb. The basics–thin patties made with meat ground in-house daily, a buttery potato bun, American cheese–don’t seem revelatory, but they’re much more than the sum of their parts. Add in the Shack Sauce, a mayo-based condiment with ketchup, mustard, spicy seasonings, and pickles, and you’ve got one of Washington’s best burgers.

Desserts here are built around frozen custard, the Midwest’s answer to soft-serve. It’s blended into killer shakes and “concretes,” a blend of custard and traditional ice-cream toppings such as hot fudge, bananas, and cookie dough. Warning: Even a small concrete is a lot for, say, a group of three.

Also good: Shack-cago Dog, a Vienna-beef hot dog done up Chicago style; chocolate and vanilla shakes; Majority Whip, a concrete with vanilla custard, shards of crispy crepe, and seasonal fruit such as vanilla-poached rhubarb.

Open daily for lunch and dinner.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.