Shake Shack (Chicago Loop)
We decided to go for a walk. I love Downtown Chicago. It’s one of my favorite places and seems almost therapeutic even though it’s loud, crowded, and loud.
I missed my turn when I was trying to get to the InterPark ramp on the corner of Wabash and Adams. I had to go a little bit further up Michigan Avenue and back track to Wabash.
On our little detour, we noticed a Shake Shack. Neither of us have been to the popular New York City chain and while we knew there was one (actually two) in Chicago now, we didn’t realize it was going to be so close to where we were. We were both stuffed, but both of us wanted to see what Shake Shack was all about.
Shake Shake in the South Loop is on Michigan Avenue between Madison and Monroe right across the street from Millennium Park. The restaurant is in the Chicago Athletic Association which, despite it’s name sounding like a fancy gym, is actually a hotel.
The Shake Shack seems to be shoehorned into a space in the hotel lobby. There is no dedicated entrance for the restaurant. You actually need to walk in to the lobby of the hotel and past the security desk to get to the entrance. Once inside the doors, there are large menu boards on the wall and since neither of us had ever been to a Shake Shack, we had to take a few minutes before walking up to the order counter.
The “Settle Up” (order) and “Pick Up” windows at the Shake Shack are pretty much inside the kitchen and it’s decorated to look like you’re walking up to an actual shack. It’s a fancy shack in a fancy building, but it is a wood paneled look nonetheless.
I so badly wanted to order a burger, but I just ate a full meal less than twenty minutes ago. I didn’t really want ice cream and I had to get something from the Shake Shack, so I ordered the BBQ Bacon Cheese Fries which is a limited time thing and a Shackmeister Ale.
J went in a little different direction opting for ice cream instead. She ordered a Bang Bang Pie Oh My Concrete and a Shack-Made Lemonade. The bill for our two “meals” was about $20 and we were handed one those light up buzzers to let us know when our food was ready.
The guy who took our order got my beer right away. Again, I didn’t plan on ordering a beer when we walked in, but it’s hard to pass up something that I can’t get anywhere else.
The Shackmeister Ale is brewed by Brooklyn Brewery and it’s only available at Shake Shack locations. It’s a pale ale that the brewer says pairs well with Shake Shack burgers, but we didn’t order a burger, so fries would have to do.
The restaurant was pretty busy, but we noticed a couple of tables in the middle of the dining room. Again, the restaurant has a little bit of a feel that the just took some open space in the lobby of the hotel and dropped a restaurant in it. The dining area is separated from the lobby by a wall with arched doorways that are blocked off with decorative glass windows. There’s a mix of tables, wooden booths, and pub tables in the space that is sandwiched between a granite tile floor and a wood beam ceiling.
I only got a few sips in to my beer when the buzzer went off. I headed to the pick up window but didn’t see anything waiting for me. It took another couple of minutes for my name to be called out from somewhere in the kitchen before a woman appeared with a tray of food and asked for my buzzer.
I know I keep saying this, but I really wasn’t hungry. I just really wanted to eat. I mean, how many opportunities are we going to have to eat at a Shake Shack? Plus, look at these fries!
The Shake Shack fries are pretty generic crinkle cut fries, but the cheese, bacon, and BBQ sauce on top of these fries made them quite delicious. The bacon actually looks like real bacon that didn’t show up at the restaurant pre-cooked then reheated. It was deliciously crispy and salty against a smooth, sharp cheddar cheese sauce. The BBQ sauce was drizzled on top and added a little bit of sweetness to counter the bacon’s saltiness.
J’s concrete was almost exactly what she was looking for. She got the single Bang Bang Pie Oh My. The custard, made with cage-free eggs and natural sugar, is mixed with a salted caramel sauce and a whole piece of Bang Bang banana cream pie. The single serving is the perfect snack size being just a little cup and J said the custard had big pieces of the whole slice of pie that was mixed in to it.
I didn’t get to try nearly as much as I wanted at Shake Shack. Sure, we could have just went to Shake Shack instead of where we went for dinner, but the Shake Shack is really just a higher end quick service casual restaurant (that’s a fancy way of say good fast food). I don’t know when I’ll ever get a chance to actually eat an entire meal at Shake Shack, but if it’s even half as good as what we already tried, I can’t wait until that chance comes up again.