Let me start by stating that I will not be doing a direct comparison of Shake Shack to In-N-Out because it isn’t fair. I don’t mean that in the sense that one is clearly better than the other, rather they are in two different categories of food.
Consider the following:
In-N-Out is considered fast food. So it’s only fair to compare it to the likes of Carl’s Jr., McDonalds or Burger King.
Shake Shack is considered fast casual food. So it’s only fair to compare it to the likes of Habit Burger or Five Guys.
I wouldn’t compare an AFL player to a NFL player. It’s a similar sport and both require similar skill sets, but it’s still not quite there. It wouldn’t be right to pit teams from the two leagues against each other and say whoever wins, wins.
I’m not a burger or food connoisseur by any means, and as unbiased as I’ll try to be, I’m still born and raised in Southern California; so there’s that. So I’ll just give a review of what I think.
For starters, a while ago I saw Wong Fu’s video segments on their reviews of the two chains:
(side note: I felt really annoyed watching this partly because Ted was so adamant about his stance on Shake Shack)
Spoiler, if you didn’t watch it, most of them liked Shake Shack more. And so going into this, I came with an open mind. If all these Asian Southern California natives liked it more, maybe I might too? I was in Las Vegas, and this was probably one of my few opportunities to try it, so I did.
Let’s talk about what I liked. There was definitely good quality in the meat patty. You could taste the meat and it wasn’t a manufactured or frozen patty. If it was, they made large efforts to make it not look that way (it wasn’t a perfect circle).
With the addition of pickles and onions in my hamburger, it came together nicely. Each bite tasted fresh.
Visually, each burger looks like it was made with care, and is pleasing to the eyes (as opposed to smashed and/or falling apart).
That’s it. That’s all I enjoyed.
Sure, there is quality in the meat, but I don’t feel like it justifies the price ($4 and up for a burger, depending on what you want). Yes, there is menu variety, but I don’t know if I’ll ever want a hot dog or chicken burger that badly. For example, I’m glad McDonalds has a salad selection, but I don’t think I’d ever order one. I’ll say honorable mention to their mushroom burger because if I were vegetarian, I’d probably love this place for it (but I’m not and I don’t care for mushrooms). If I liked desserts and sweets more, I’d appreciate that side of the menu more. I tried their concrete, and it was pretty good. I hear their shakes and stuff are actually good, but I’m hear to judge their burgers.
It bothered me that each burger came with ONE leaflet of lettuce. Just barely enough to separate meat from bun.
I can’t tell you if their shack sauce is any good. I couldn’t really taste it. In fact, I found myself pouring on the ketchup and mustard because I felt like it was missing something. I don’t think they put too much on it.
People make fun of me for this next piece of knowledge, but whatever. I’ll never forget Mr. Holcomb telling us the value of cheese and what a price markup it is in Economics class. I always order hamburgers at In-N-Out because I’d otherwise pay 35 cents more for a piece of cheese. At Shake Shack? One whole dollar more for a slice of cheese. Worse yet, the cheeseburger by default does not come with pickles and onions. Had I known, I would have asked for it.
Because it doesn’t come with pickles and onions, the cheeseburger was soggier and tasted really greasy.
The fries were okay. Maybe because I associate crinkle cut fries with elementary school cafeterias but It wasn’t anything special to me.
The burgers are small. Even after eating a hamburger, a cheeseburger, some fries and some of a concrete, I wasn’t exactly full. Quality over quantity I guess?
Lastly, it was expensive.
This cost me $25:
(wasn’t all for me, bought food for my girlfriend too)
I mean, I’m glad I tried it so that I could talk about it like this, but all in all, it’s not for me. In two words, it sucked. I’m all about value, and it’s a poor value. I guess I just prefer my burgers like this:
(and this will only cost me like $8)