by Samantha Della Fera & Julia Mazzucco
The year 2004 was a busy one. Friends aired its final episode. A start-up website called Facebook debuted. George W. Bush was reelected to a second term. Yet among all of these insignificant events, something truly incredible happened: Shake Shack was born.
Starting as a literal shack in Madison Square Park, Shake Shack worked its way up the cutthroat New York City food chain to become the Manhattan staple we all know and love today. And while the bougie cuisine that characterizes NYC can be enticing, there’s nothing quite like sitting outside on a sunny Manhattan day, feasting on upwards of 1,000 calories of absolute deliciousness.
So that’s exactly what half of the Hi’s Eye staff did. At the most anticipated part of our day—lunchtime—the staff divided itself into two groups. One group would enjoy a comfortable, sit-down lunch at The Smith, while the rest of us braved the line—and the possibility of becoming target practice for pigeons—at the original outdoor Shake Shack. As a duo who have enjoyed the glorious greasy goodness of Shake Shack across three states and two continents, we might be just a little biased when we say that we would pick the artery-clogging burgers of Shake Shack over avocado toast any day.
To us, Shake Shack encapsulates everything that is New York. It’s definitely overpriced (the basic meal of a cheeseburger, fries and shake costs about $13), and yeah, it is a little grimy, but nothing else in the world compares to it. The moment you unwrap the grease-covered ShackBurger, you know you’re in for a treat. The special ShackSauce leaves your tongue wondering what ingredients could have come together to create such a flavor.
It is no surprise that you can’t go to Shake Shack without sipping on one of its classic shakes. The black-and-white shake, a true favorite, is smooth with the perfect combination of decadent chocolate and pure vanilla. In contrast to the shake, the crunchy and crispy crinkle-cut fries are the perfect touch to round out the meal. Dunking the fries in the Shack’s cheese sauce is an added bonus that must be tried.
Last Thursday, when the seven of us sat down with our food, we encountered something we had never witnessed before with the Hi’s Eye staff: silence. The only sounds we heard were the honking of taxis, the crisscrossing of foreign languages and the nonstop bustling of a city that never sleeps.
Whether we were munching on cheese fries, guzzling down a black-and-white shake or even just gazing with wonder at the line that was now winding halfway through the park, each of us was basking in the Shake Shack experience. It’s an experience that is uniquely New York.