Steak ‘N Shake Signature Is Good, But Not Worth the Wait (Yet)

On Thursday, Steak ‘n Shake opened its doors, and the Midtown masses descended in the rain, first for the free food for a year and then for lunch. Last week’s opening brought lots of media attention, including a New York Times article quoting Danny Meyer on growing up eating Steak ‘n Shake, which is the inspiration for our beloved Shake Shack. It’ll be interesting to see New Yorkers compare the two over time.

Luckily for us, Lunch’er Hightemp was on the scene on opening day, albeit for dinner, and wrote this review of the original double cheese burger (which is the most like Shake Shack), plus one of the dog options.

Since its in my ‘hood I went by for dinner. Waited outside for about 5 minutes around 8pm but I hit them right when the “perfect storm” of kitchen craziness hit so ended up waiting about 40 minutes inside to actually order. I got a free strawberry shake for waiting. The staff was all very friendly.

Got an Original Double Cheese ‘n fries and (since I had waited and felt like I had to justify the wait) a Chili Cheese Steak frank ‘n fries. Everything was good and came out fast. I can see how they get credited as the inspiration for the shake shack. Burger had that same crusty/salty thing going on. Frank was sort of a normal frank but the chili and the onions they put on was a nice touch…could have used more cheese. Fries were really good…thin and crunchy…though 2 orders was excessive even for me. Still I’m very glad to have it in the area.

When I was there, my wait was also longer than expected.

The outside wait time was 25 minutes, inside was 15 and then it took 5 minutes to get my food once I had ordered. Apparently they’d been getting a lot of large $80 orders that backed up the kitchen and stalled ordering so they could catch up. I’m sure once the hype dies down and these guys get into a groove, the wait time will improve, but I think I can speak for most ML’ers when I say, 45 minutes is just too long to spend waiting on a regular basis.

I ordered the new menu item, the Signature Steak Burger ‘n Fries ($5.99) and a vanilla milkshake ($2.99). The vanilla shake had a luxuriously rich, thick consistency, which is exactly what you want from a real ice cream milkshake. Topped with whipped cream and a maraschino cherry, the shake exudes diner nostalgia. Plus, my shake cup told me they offer happy hour on weekdays 2-4 p.m. and a.m., which means all shakes and drinks (excluding Red Bull) are 1/2 price. Nothing on the menu is particularly expensive, but if you’re looking to grab lunch on the later side, this might be a nice option to save a couple bucks.

The signature burger is a 6 oz organic beef steak patty topped with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles. My first impression is that the meat itself has more flavor than BV’s burger, but probably less than Shake Shack. While a very good and moist burger, it wasn’t in any way remarkable enough to make me want to wait 45 minutes a second time. The hand-cut fries were thin and crispy, with the just the right amount of salt. If you’re a fan of shoestring fries like I am, these are absolutely worth a try!

I’m very interested in trying some of their other burger ‘n fries combos, especially those on the specialty menu. A colleague of mine swears by the frisco melt, which admittedly sounds pretty rad. But, I think I’ll wait several weeks before returning in the hopes that the hype — and therefor the wait — dies down.

The + (What someone who likes this place would say)

  • The price is right!
  • The shakes are rich and delicious.
  • Shoestring fries are the best (and steak fries are the pits), and I could eat these all day long.

The – (What someone who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • Did we need another burger place? I hadn’t heard.
  • What makes this burger different from all other burgers?
  • Yikes, I don’t have that kind of time for the line, especially in the cold.

Steak ‘n Shake, 1695 Broadway btw 53+54, 212-247-6584


  • i heard there was no wait for food at the press preview.

    looks pretty good. worth checking out in the future.

  • A block quote! Go me!

    As it is literally half a block from my apartment I ended up having a late night Portobello ‘N Swiss burger over the weekend. I liked it more than the original. Lots of large slices of portobello, grilled onions, and something giving it an unexpected level of spice/heat.

    Its definitely not worth waiting in line outside in the cold, but it is worth checking out.

  • Ugh, i hate mass orders. Restaurants (or trucks) should place a limit on mass orders to either # of orders or dollar value, at least during the first few weeks. If you really want to try it, stand in line yourself!

  • Burger looks aight. Def not gonna wait on long lines for it though. Maybe pass by during an off-peak time to try it.

  • I went with a co-worker last week and both of us thought their shoestring fries were extremely salty. Maybe it was just a batch they got carried away with but don’t know.

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    Ahhhhh it’s so yummy!!! Those crispy edges on the regular cheeseburger patties are winnnnn, and so is the price. Went on opening day, around 7pm and the place was still jam-packed. We had to wait 2 minutes outside with the bouncer, but once we got in, ordering and getting our food only took about 10 minutes tops. They moved pretty fast! Hopefully they’ll get better with dealing with the lunch crowd.

    The shakes might give you the ‘beetus, but are a nice, nostalgic trip down memory lane.

  • Went today, short line outside, wound up about 9 minutes to the counter, and 8 more to get my order (original and a chili cheese dog, both with fries).

    Cheeseburger didn’t really have the edge char, but it was fairly good, better than, say, Wendy’s, but not a patch on Shake Shack. As other people have commented they had a nice crust on their burgers, I’ll chalk that up to variability.

    The fries were quite good, lots of potato flavor, on the limp side likely from my walk back to work — but the non-limp ones had the requisite crisp outside, fluffy interior — and not very salty in my two batches, though again, another commented theirs had too much salt. I guess everything’s variable.

    The dogs are very good. I don’t think I’d do chili-cheese again, but I enjoyed the beefy, somewhat-spiced dog.

    Incidentally, I asked about a la carte pricing, and she said it was about a 40 cent difference without fries.

  • @Dave: Your poor office mates….

  • Cool. As long as their fries are better than Shack’s. Above a Dave Thomas establishment but below the LaFrieda blend? That’s all I needed to know. Burger in the belly it goes!

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    its garlic mayo on the port and swiss, nothing too special…

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