Black Shack’s Sloppy Joe is a Hidden Gem

When Zach last reviewed Black Shack (Lex btw. 38+39th), he found the burgers to be fine, but not destination-worthy. But that was all the way back in 2009, so I stopped by the Shack this week to see how things were going.

First, the menu has expanded considerably. In addition to the regular burger, Black Shack Burger, and Western Burger that Zach reviewed, they now have a Steakhouse Burger, plus a Sloppy Joe and chicken sandwiches, as well as salads, grilled tofu and fresh mozzarella sandwiches. The bad news is that prices have gone up considerably. The burger that cost Zach $4.50 in 2009 now costs $6.25, for example.

Now I was tempted to try the fresh mozzarella sandwich (they make the mozz in house), but since this is Midtown Lunch, I went with the meatier options: the Steakhouse Burger and the Sloppy Joe.

The Steakhouse Burger ($7.25) is a normal burger given the fancy-pants steakhouse treatment, being served with horseradish sauce, garlic creamed spinach, and crispy onions on top. I had high hopes for this burger, since each of those things go great with well-cooked beef, but the Steakhouse Burger really just didn’t come together. There were plenty of fried onions, which were good, but overpowered the spinach and to some extent, the beef (which was served well done, unfortunately). The horseradish sauce was good, but there was nowhere near enough of it. More sauce might have given the burger the extra zing it needed.

Next up was the Sloppy Joe ($6.25), that paragon of American comfort food. I’ve honestly never had a Sloppy Joe outside of my mom’s kitchen, but if they’re all as good as Black Shack’s, I’m going to have to start doing it more. The Sloppy Joe sauce, tomato-based, had a great tangyness to it, almost as though there were thousand island dressing mixed in. The beef was broken into well-sized chunks with great texture. Diced onions and green bell peppers also added good flavor and a bit of crunch. I order my Joe with “melty cheese” for an extra $0.75, but I didn’t really taste much cheese through that tangy sauce. Next time I might try it with cheddar. I was a bit worried the sandwich might be a bit too messy to eat at my desk, but it held together very well (just remember to pick up a fork to eat any meat that escapes the bun).

None of Black Shack’s burgers are very big, and the Sloppy Joe is no different, so MLers would do well to get an order of fries as well. I would have, but I saw that they have chocolate pudding on the menu. After reading about the Nutella Espresso Panna Cotta that Sarah had at Spreads, I couldn’t resist.

This is the chocolate pudding that we all grew up eating, and was the perfect way to follow up my Sloppy Joe. It had a thick layer of whipped cream on top, so each spoonful was equal parts pudding and cream. Good stuff.

Black Shack might never become a destination burger joint in Midtown East, what with Five Guys, Shake Shack, and others in the area, but they’ve got themselves a hidden gem with that Sloppy Joe.

Black Shack Burger, 320 Lexington Ave. (btw. 38+39th), 212-213-0042

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