New York Burger Co.
303 Park Ave. South
Travel Time: 2 minutes
# of People in Line: 4
When the grease fumes clear on this little quest for Shake Shack Alternatives, there is really only one place that deserves the mantle, and that is the New York Burger Co. A block away from the shack, NY Burger Co. provides the shortest walk, shortest line, and shortest wait, which all translates into more Madison Square Park Time.
They, however, could not be more different in approach. The shack hides its workers in that little hut, where New York Burger Co. showcases them, Chipotle-style, as the focus of the room. And what a glorious show they put on. New York Burger Co. is a model of efficiency. Four people greet you and beg to take your order. A complete line of cooks caters to your burger with diligence and care. This is fast food the way it should be.
It's such an impressive execution, the burger is sort of an after thought, which isn't quite fair. Becuase the product is fresh and clean, not too big, not too small. And while it's a little expensive, so is the shack. It's worth the extra dollars to have a burger look this good:
But we're back to the old grilled vs. sauteed on a griddle conundrum. Burgers grilled over a flame get a distinctive char that overwhelms the other ingredients, which can work if the meat is as good as it here. But the sear isn't as good, and some of the juice is lost. I know you were brought up on the male fantasy of hamburgers grilled in the back yard, and to be fair, those can be great. But in the end, New York Burger Co. comes short of the divine wonders of the Shake Shack, no matter what any one says, and that's why this will always just be the number 1 alternative instead of a real destination itself.