Better Than Yours: Shake Shack Hopes to Thrive in Dupont Circle

July 20, 2011


Seven years ago, Shake Shack opened its first location in New York City’s Madison Square Park and kick-started the hamburger revival. After two years of looking for the right location and ironing out the details, the Big Apple eatery debuted an outpost in Dupont Circle in mid-May. “D.C. is one of the great burger towns, so we wanted to be here,” says Shake Shack COO Randy Garutti. “There are a lot of great options here already — Ray’s Hell Burger, Five Guys, Good Stuff Eatery — but we hope people add us to the rotation.”

Vision
“We want to be the intelligent person’s burger joint,” Garutti says. To outdo your average fast-food patty, the restaurant uses hormone- and antibiotic-free Black Angus beef that’s ground fresh daily and includes a secret blend of brisket, chuck and short rib.

Eats
Yes, Shake Shack sells hot dogs and a deep-fried portobello mushroom sandwich, but you come here for the hamburgers ($4.75-$6.75). They’re served on a grilled potato bun with lettuce and tomato; a second patty, pickles and American cheese are added by request. Definitely ask for the special ShackSauce, a tangy mayo that complements the burger so nicely that you won’t even want ketchup. A side of crinkle-cut fries doused in cheddar-American cheese sauce is a worthy addition ($3.65). If you still have room for dessert, order a concrete — a super-dense frozen custard ($4.25 for a half size, $6.50 for a full). The rich frozen treats take some inspiration from the burger joint’s newest stomping grounds. Options include the Majority Whip, which combines vanilla custard, homemade rhubarb compote, whipped cream and crepe crispies; and the Washington Monu-Mint, which brings together chocolate custard, minted marshmallow and chocolate cookie dough.

Drinks
As you should have guessed from the name, milk shakes are a specialty here. They’re made with frozen custard instead of ice cream (which gives them a richer, creamier consistency), and they come in seven flavors: vanilla, chocolate, Black and White (vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup), peanut butter, coffee, caramel and strawberry ($5-$5.50). If you want to class up your experience, order a glass of Shake Shack sauvignon blanc ($7 glass, $28 bottle) or Shake Shack cabernet franc made by Frog’s Leap vineyards in Napa Valley ($8 glass, $31 bottle).

Atmosphere
Hungry hipsters, office workers on breaks and homesick New Yorkers all weather long lines for the chance to grab a window seat or a backroom booth at this never-quiet burger mecca.

» 1216 18th St. NW; 202-683-9922, Shakeshack.com. (Farragut North)

Written by Express contributor Nevin Martell
Photo by Nevin Martell

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Nevin Martell · July 19, 2011