shake shack: philadelphia

I’ve been to the original Shake Shack at Madison Square Park in New York City a few times. Confession: It has been about two years since I last went. Luckily for me, a Philadelphia location opened recently and I’ve been twice now. I remember enjoying Shake Shack, but it’s been so long that I don’t remember if it was worthy of all the hype.

On one visit, I ordered a double SmokeShack, a new menu item consisting of the LaFrieda Angus beef, Niman Ranch applewood smoked bacon, American cheese, chopped cherry peppers, and ShackSauce. The burgers were cooked well, with spots of medium. Holy crap, did it taste good. It was super juicy and cheesy. The cherry peppers added a pleasant contrasting tartness to each bite. It’s one of the messier burgers I’ve had recently, but it’s all worth it when you taste it.

Every day they offer a special custard flavor of the day. The Saturday that I went’s feature flavor was “Coffee & Donuts”, featuring Philly’s own Federal Donuts. I was able to try this too, which tasted great.

On my most recent visit, I tried the Shack Stack, a combination of the Cheeseburger and ‘Shroom Burger in one. It was made up of LaFrieda Angus beef, ShackSauce, a muenster & cheddar stuffed, fried portobello mushroom, lettuce, and tomato. This was delicious. It had the texture and taste of having a mozzarella stick on a burger. I don’t think I’d get this over a SmokeShack in the future though, that one is just too damn good.

The Philly location also has some unique Philly inspired concretes. They have the Center City Pretzel which features pieces of a Philly soft pretzel and the Rittenhouse squared, which features LaColombe cofee beans, and the Liberty Shell, which features Termini Bros. cannoli shell. These are currently on my to eat list.

Beer-wise, you could get a pint of Brooklyn Brewery’s specially brewed ShackMeister Ale!

I think Shake Shack is worthy of some hype. They definitely don’t have the best fries in the city in my opinion, but they certainly have some of the tastiest burgers in the city!

Shake Shack
2000 Sansom St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103

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the institute – drunken cow

Last fall, I tried The Institute’s porter smoked burger. Since then, they have changed their menu up and have a couple new burger offerings. One of the new burgers that struck my eye was the Pin-Up burger, a burger topped with Reese’s peanut butter sauce, Hershey’s Dark Chocolate syrup, and candied bourbon bacon. Yup, you read that right. I certainly didn’t have a sweet tooth the other day, so I went with the Drunken Cow, a burger with bourbon blue cheese and caramelized onion.

The Drunken Cow was fairly similar to the porter smoked burger I had last time. It’s similarities are that this is made up of an 8 oz. beef patty served on a brioche bun with mixed greens, tomatoes, and red onion. Also like before, you can choose to have tots over fries and greens as your side.

The burger was cooked to a proper medium-rare and was pretty juicy, but there were some things that could have made the burger better. First, maybe the burger should hit a hotter cooking surface initially, as it seemed fairly soft on the outside. Another thing would be the use of blue cheese? The cheese certainly tasted a lot like goat cheese, as it had that tartness to it. One of their other burgers does in fact use goat cheese, so it’s not out of the question to use goat cheese on a burger here.

The Institute
549 N. 12th St
Philadelphia, PA 19123

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elevation burger – veggie burgers #1 & #2

In preparation of the obnoxious food eating and beer drinking that will happen next month (on vacation) in Seattle & Portland, I am trying to not consume as many burgers or beers as I normally do. With this in mind, my dining partner and I went out to Wynnewood for a veggie burger dinner at the organic burger chain, Elevation Burger.

Elevation Burger offers two different kinds of veggie burgers, #1 and #2. Both have a lot of similar ingredients in the patties, such as wheat, red bell peppers, oats, and corn. Some of the unique ingredients in #1 (lighter colored patty) are tomatoes, mozzarella & parmesan cheeses, and jalapenos. Some of the unique ingredients in #2 (darker) are brown rice, broccoli, carrots, and soy. Both were ordered with lettuce, tomato, and Elevation Sauce. We went halfsies on the burgers so we got to try both. I enjoyed #2 more, as it tasted more like a veggie burger. #1 didn’t taste bad, it just tasted more cheesy and not quite veggie burger-like. Both burgers could have benefited from a more melted cheese. The fries we ordered were addictively tasty and had the right amount of salt.

Elevation Burger
50 E Wynnewood Rd.
Wynnewood, PA 19096

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gino’s burgers & chicken – gino’s giant

A couple of my coworkers are from the Philadelphia area. They told me about this place called Gino’s that used to be around when they were growing up. Gino’s was around from the 60’s to the early 80’s when the franchise was merged with Roy Rogers. Recently, the local fast food chain has made come back in the area, with a handful of locations in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland. We stopped into the King of Prussia location earlier this week, where I got to try the classic Gino’s Giant.

The Gino’s Giant is very similar to a Big Mac. It’s their signature burger made with two (looks like) 1/4 lb. beef patties, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, special sauce, and the third, intermediate piece of bread separating the patties. It’s also served on a sesame seed bun.

I don’t remember the last time I had fast food, but this definitely brought back memories of stuffing my face into McDonald’s and Burger King burgers. That’s a good thing of course. I liked it, though I think it could have used a bit more sauce or cheese that’s melted more, as it was a smidge dry.

Gino’s Burgers & Chicken
611 W Dekalb Pike
King of Prussia, PA 19406

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grand lux cafe: cherry hill – garlic-blue burger

I was invited last week to check out the new Grand Lux Cafe that’s opening in Cherry Hill, NJ. If you’re not aware, Grand Lux Cafe is basically a small chain under the Cheesecake Factory. There’s only a handful across the country and this is their latest. The sample menus we were given had burgers on it! I was slightly overwhelmed as there were lots of burgers to choose from. I eventually settled for the Garlic-Blue Burger.

The Garlic-Blue Burger consists of a 10 oz. Angus burger topped with Applewood smoked bacon, garlic-blue cheese aioli, grilled onions, tomato, and arugula. I wish I had good things to say. I ordered it medium-rare and it certainly came out well done. It was still juicy but lacked flavor. The aioli needed more, too. I know aioli is derived from mayo, but there wasn’t enough to make this different than mayo. It just tasted like mayo. The bun was also overly buttery and broke down from it’s softness. For a $13 price tag, you may want to go with something else…like the Vietnamese Chicken Summer Rolls. Those were awesome.

Don’t miss the Pineapple Smash cocktail. It’s made with muddled caramelized pineapple and whiskey on the rocks. Pretty damn tasty.

Grand Lux Cafe
Cherry Hill Mall
2000 Route 38
Cherry Hill, NJ 08002

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