The phrase "highly anticipated restaurant" is one of those cliches that food bloggers constantly fire off like "brick and mortar" and "crazy good." In reality, the only people who are probably "highly" anticipating upcoming restaurants are food bloggers, so we have something new to write about.
But judging by the lines at the opening day of Shake Shack Mall of America, we've got at least one truly anticipated restaurant in our midst.
Hundreds stood in line for a taste of the fast-casual burgers, fries, and custardy shakes that might one day be as iconic as McDonald's. The brand new restaurant handled the throngs admirably, with a swiftly moving line and trays of food coming off the hopper faster than they can seemingly do it at their location in JFK.
Founded by important New York City restaurateur Danny Meyer in 2004, Shake Shack has come to represent the more updated, more modern face of fast food. Here a few extra dollars gets you a better quality product that's handled with more technique and care, all with a cold beer or glass of wine if you like.
Based in New York, Shake Shacks are now all over the nation and the world, including in Japan, the Middle East, and Russia. The Mall of America houses Minnesota's first Shack. Its fans (yours truly included) are fervent.
Among the congregation we spotted a slow-moving man on a walker with his burger sack resting on the pads (an employee chased him down the concourse to offer a complimentary T-shirt), an entire family of four donning Shack shirts snapping pics like Disney World tourists, and fit Paleo bods clearly using this as their cheat day.
The first-day food was pretty close to the iconic flavors devotees have come to expect, though burgers were a little overdone. (Shack burgers are usually reliably medium-pink, and these trended closer to well.) But the good tomatoes, squishy bun, high-quality and unwilted lettuce were all there, along with that pink "Shack Sauce," creamy and ketchupy and happily junky. The MOA branch is also putting out a signature burger with Wisconsin white cheddar sauce and bacon.
Tie-ins (read: ways to spend money with the company) are seemingly endless, from dog biscuits to a signature Shake Shack Mast Brothers chocolate bar, to sunglasses. Shake Shack shades. You wanna look cool, don't you?
Look for Shake Shack in the new "Culinary on North" food court, where two other East Coast chains have also set up shop: Disco Fries, serving about a dozen kinds of smothered French fries, and Melt Shop, with "artisanal" grilled cheese sandwiches.
Yesterday, they both sat all but deserted in the shadow of the almighty Shack.
Mall of America
Culinary on North Food Court
60 E. Broadway, Bloomington