I waited a whole month and a half after the grand opening of Washington states’s first Shake Shack to try those famous burgers. It turns out that wasn’t nearly enough time for the hype to die down and the restaurant to work out its glitches.
The newest branch of the New York City burger joint opened in South Lake Union in October. If you’ve got hangry children, this isn’t the place for you. But heading to Westlake is cheaper than flying a family of four back East, so we went.
Be ready to wait
First, there was the wait to order: 40 minutes. The line moved slowly, and it didn’t help matters that three of the ordering kiosks were not working. We went on a day off from school, and there were lots of kids and grandparents in line sprinkled among the neighborhood Amazonians. Tip: The line had died down substantially by the time we left, around 2:15 p.m. Go during an off-peak time to minimize the wait.
Then the wait to pick up our order: 10 more minutes. The kitchen staff was slamming it out as fast as they could, but you’d think they could have figured it out by now.
And finally the wait for a table: another 10 minutes. I hovered pointedly over a table where a family was lingering over dessert and their phones. My husband was mortified, but later as we were finishing up our meal, another person pounced on our table, too. At least a quarter of the tables in the tiny space were occupied by people waiting for their food, not actually eating. Not terribly efficient.
And, the restrooms: There are only two unisex bathrooms, with a line. Look, I have boys so I know I never want to share a bathroom with the fellas if I can help it. On a busy bathroom day I closed my eyes and went in. Then I went home and bleached everyone.
So let’s get to the food, right? Yelpers panned the crinkle cut fries ($2.99) as nothing special, but my 3-year-old gobbled them up, then looked sad when they were gone.
My husband downed the ShackBurger® ($5.69), no complaints.
My East Coast source suggested ordering the ’Shroom Stack®, but I accidentally ordered the ’Shroom Burger, which is a breaded and deep-fried portobello mushroom burger. That’s $7.29 for a veggie burger. On the first bite, piping hot cheese squirted out and I was glad it burned my hand, not my kids’ hands.
Because we waited an hour for food, we weren’t leaving without trying the Montlake Double Cut ($10.99), a Seattle-only special burger with Beecher’s cheese on a Macrina bun. This thing was pretty much an entire cow. The bun glistened with grease, and so did our lips and hands when we tried it. The meat might have been grass-fed, pasture-raised, craft-grain-finished and hormone-free, but it was oily and way too salty for us.
We were in so deep with the calorie overkill that we went for a dessert, too. The Coffee and Croissant is basically a fancy ice cream with Theo’s chocolate and coffee caramel sauce swirled in. It was starting to get melty by the time we got to it (see wait times above), but of all the things we ate at Shake Shack, this was our family favorite. And for $4.89, it’s a little cheaper than ice cream at some local artisanal scoop shops.
Total damage for our lunch: $35.07 for three burgers, fries and an ice cream. A lot to pay for fancy fast food, but we’ve got bragging rights: We’ve tried Shake Shack! Now we’re going back to Dick’s.
If you go:
Hours: Shake Shack is open 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Sunday–Thursday, and 11 a.m.–11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Getting there: Parking is tough. You could try parking at the Whole Foods building kitty-corner across the street (validation for two hours if you make a purchase) or take transit. The Seattle Streetcar South Lake Union line goes right by.
Burning off some energy: After the wait for lunch, kids might need to burn off some energy. (And adults may feel the urge to burn off some calories as well.)