Shake Shack was a game-changer, bringing high-quality ingredients to the “fast casual” food industry. For a long time, its particular blend of sirloin and brisket dominated a certain segment of New York’s restaurant scene (and the chain continues to expand, announcing a DUMBO location last week). But these days the hungry hordes have other restaurants to choose from, many of whom have built on Shake Shack’s comfort food formula or, in some cases, gone in a whole new, wholly delicious direction. Herewith, our five favorite alternatives to Shake Shack. By Jessica Allen.
BurgerFi is short for “BurgerFication of the Nation.” Based in Florida, the chain recently opened its first NYC location, with plans for others to follow shortly (fingers crossed the rumors are true!). The Angus burgers come from humanely raised, grass-fed animals, and are cooked juicily to order. Fries are hand cut, and go great with custards, concretes, and hot dogs. BurgerFi maintains as low a carbon footprint as possible, with strict recycling programs, chairs made from recycled Coke bottles, and energy-efficient electronics.
Unlike the nonpartisan, democratic Shake Shack, which welcomes any and all who cared to wait to stand in the always long line at the original Madison Square Park location, the original Burger Joint was hidden behind a curtain in the lobby of the Le Parker Meridien hotel in Midtown. Only those who knew, knew. Eventually word got out about its meaty, charred-from-the-grill burgers, fries, and shakes (just about the entirety of the menu), and more than just hotel guests would queue up for a taste. A second NYC location opened in the West Village in 2013.
So good, brgr makes you forget about vowels. This restaurant, with two locations, wants to serve the “best guilt-free burger on the face of the planet.” You can try one of the house specialties, such as the Blue Sky brgr, which puts bacon, roquefort, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and sweet onion marmalade atop the patty, or the Rainforest brgr, which tops the beef with avocado, herb mayo, gruyere, lettuce, pickles, and tomato. Individualists can design their own with a la carte sauces and toppings.
Shake Shack has a pretty rigid menu: beef or mushroom burgers, concretes/shakes, hot dogs, and fries. Bareburger, on the other hand, has a plethora of options to stick between buns, including elk, lamb, wild boar, bison, ostrich, quinoa, black bean, mushroom, fried or grilled chicken, beef, and turkey. No matter what you order, your meat will be all-natural, free-range, and organic, as good for you as it is to eat. This New York chainlet began in Astoria, and has since spread its eco-conscious vibes and excellent fries around the city, and beyond.
Let’s get one thing out of the way: you don’t have to do the eponymous dance to eat at Harlem Shake. This retro diner takes customers back to a time when Jet magazine was big and afros were bigger. The signature Harlem Classic includes two two-ounce custom-blend Pat la Frieda beef patties, freshly ground each day and smooshed onto the griddle. They come on a toasted Martin’s Potato Roll. Adventurous folks might try the Jerk Fry Burger, which starts like a classic, then adds jerk-seasoned, triple-cooked fries and smoked jerk mayo.