First Look: Shake Shack, Buckhead Atlanta

The Peachtree Road anchor of the new Buckhead Atlanta project, Shake Shack from Danny Meyer’s Manhattan-based Union Square Hospitality Group is one of the most anticipated metro dining destinations in recent memory. The fact that it’s a hamburger stand located in a luxury retail, restaurant and residential development says a lot about current culinary culture.

The look: Shake Shack’s cult following evolved from a hot dog cart Meyer set up in Madison Square Park in 2001. Since then, the design has evolved to eco-friendly kiosk-style structures, with the “Shakes, Burgers, Hot Dogs” logo wrapped around the roof line. In the two-story Buckhead space, the walls are sheathed in reclaimed Southern yellow pine, chairs and booths are constructed from eco-certified lumber, and tabletops are reclaimed from bowling alley lanes.

The scene: At a preview party on Monday evening, a swelling crowd swarmed around the ground floor dining room, as the restaurant team scrambled to keep the cooked-to-order burgers and fries coming from the kitchen. Up on the rooftop deck, two local chefs known for their burger expertise, Todd Mussman of Muss & Turner’s and Todd Ginsberg of the General Muir, joined the throng, and acknowledged Shake Shack’s influence.

The food: The heart of the menu is the signature ShackBurger ($4.99 single/$7.69 double), a flattop-griddled Angus beef cheeseburger topped with tomato, green leaf lettuce and pickley ShackSauce, served on a buttered, toasted roll in a wax-paper wrapper. The Chicago-style Vienna Beef hot dog ($4) is split down the middle, griddled crisp and served in a toasted bun with all the classic garnishes. Old-fashioned crinkle cut fries ($2.90), often cited as the weak link among Shack offerings, can be ordered with creamy cheese sauce for an extra buck.

The drinks: On the soft drink menu ($1.80-$3.50), find housemade lemonade, organic iced tea, fountain soda and Abita draft root beer. Shackmeister Ale ($5.50) from Brooklyn Brewery is a fixture of the draft list, with a rotating selection of local beers. Shack white ($7.50/$26) or red ($8.50/$29) wine is from Napa’s Frog’s Leap.

The extras: Frozen custard ($3.45-6.55) is another signature, spun into shakes and concretes. Buckhead specials include Pecan Pie Oh My, vanilla frozen custard blended with a slice of pecan pie from H&F Bread Co., and Campfire S’mores, chocolate frozen custard blended with marshmallow sauce, graham crackers and dark chocolate chunks from Cacao Atlanta Chocolate Co.

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