The goods: When Manhattan restaurateur Danny Meyer (Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, Eleven Madison Park, etc.) decided to take his snack-shop phenon on the road, he picked South Beach for Shake Shack’s first out-of-town tryout. If test runs are any indication, Miami fans can expect the same hefty lines New Yorkers happily endure. (Fret not; nifty electronic buzzers alert you when your order is ready.)
Ambience: Cheerful and upbeat. Outdoor tables make great use of the sunny patio, and soaring 30-foot ceilings give way to suspended gardens” that add a dash of greenery to the neo-industrial space at the western end of Lincoln Road. High-top tables are made of wood salvaged from bowling alleys and chairs are mod plastic stools.
The grub: Retro fast-food with a contemporary spin that’s relatively cheap given the quality. Expect to pay $8-$16 for a burger, fries and milkshake. House beer and wine (Marquis Philips-blended Shack chard and shiraz and ShackMeister Ale from Brooklyn Brewery) averages $6 a glass. The Shackburger, the most popular item, consists of a 4-ounce burger made with fresh-ground, antibiotic- and hormone-free Black Angus beef topped with secret Shack sauce, American cheese lettuce and tomatoes. Vegetarians can get their burger on with the ‘Shroom option: two portobello caps stuffed with Muenster and Cheddar, deep-fried golden brown and served in a potato bun. Hot dogs include a Chicago-style Vienna all-beef dog topped with mustard, relish and celery salt and a Second City bird dog” made with chicken sausage and loaded with the same toppings.
Frozen custard soft-serve ice cream blended into an ever-changing array of flavors like strawberry lime, coffee and doughnuts and cherry almond is the antidote to a hot summer day. Super-thick “concrete” milkshakes have Miami-centric flavors like Key Lime Pie Oh My with chunks of actual pie from local purveyor Sugar Monkey. The Shack Beach Diet is a calorie-laden concoction of vanilla custard, kiwi and coconut passion caramel sauce.
Verdict: You may have to navigate long lines and big crowds, but the high-quality ingredients, big-city allure and fun atmosphere make Shake Shack a hip, appealing option on Lincoln Road.