In hopes of drawing attention to its lunch service, the restaurant has reduced the price of its California burger, usually $21, to $9.99. The price cut is a gimmick, but the burger is anything but. Manager Mary Zayaruzny says there's "no end in sight" for how long the discount will last.
It's among a handful of new burgers that, rather than deploy a thick patty of ground beef, opt for two thin, crisper rounds to achieve that unmistakable meaty bite. Here, they use celebrity butcher Pat LaFrieda, who grinds grass-fed chuck, short rib, and skirt, yielding a patty that's sufficiently juicy. A couple of slices of American cheese, some Peppadew peppers, and a few avocado crescents on a soft, sturdy sesame-seed bun complete the sandwich. A pile of thin, crisp French fries is hard to resist.
Similarly styled burgers, beyond Shake Shack's double-patty Shack burger, include K Ramen. Burger. Beer.'s K burger ($17). Two medium-thick patties are seared on a flattop until they their exteriors develop a smoky char, while the meat inside is still juicy and slightly pink. The patties are lathered is a house sauce that tastes similar to Shake Shack’s Shack Sauce — a combo of mayo and ketchup blended with pickles and a few spices suspected to be paprika and garlic — which beautifully complements melty American cheese. The brioche bun, which is neither too sweet, too dense, nor too spongy, is nothing short of perfect. Caramelized onions lend a bit of sweetness, while a thick slab of tomato provides some tartness and crunch.
About 20 blocks north at Richard Hales' Bird & Bone, the eatery's namesake burger ($18) tucks twin patties, bacon, cheddar, pickles, and onions between slices of Zak the Baker brioche.
There's something about these burgers — the thinner patties and crisp, salty crusts — that gives the skull-tingling satisfaction of junk food with the comfort of knowing the meat wasn't processed in a dark, dingy factory filled with indentured servants.