On Saturday, February 24, The Source in Denver, an artisan culinary market hall (and soon to be hotel) in RiNo, plays host to a pop-up of New York City’s famed burger chain, Shake Shack from restaurateur and chief executive officer of the Union Square Hospitality Group, Danny Meyer. The event is a prelude to the well-received burger chain opening it’s first Colorado location this spring on the corner of 30th and Larimer Street in the “Mile High City.”
Due to Shake Shack’s strong following, only guests that had an RSVP in hand were eligible for the event and even still had no guarantee of admittance. RMFR snags an invitation and we wisely arrive an hour early to be amongst the first fifty people in line. We are the lucky few who get inside the event and within an hour of the doors opening, not surprisingly, the pop-up reaches capacity. As we exit we are in awe of the hundreds of people in a line that snakes out into the cold and notice Meyer himself walk by to meet and greet anxious foodie fans.
Meyer, who implements “enlightened hospitality” and is the author of “Setting the Table,” originally established Shake Shack in 2004 as a food cart in Madison Square Park in Manhattan. Since then, Shake Shack has grown rapidly to 162 locations across the globe.
The menu features a few select items to include the ShackBurger®, the ‘Shroom Burger, and their signature crinkle-cut fries.
The ShackBurger® is of the delicious high quality that you’d expect and substantiates the crowd presence as it elevates the definition of fast, casual dining. The produce and protein tastes fresh with a bit of crispy-crunch inside of an incredibly soft potato bun.
The ‘Shroom Burger is their vegetarian option that veers away from the disappointing soggy consistency that creates “moisture damaged buns,” and instead looks towards the texture of a veggie or bean-based patty. It’s firm exterior makes way for and an explosion of gooey, melted Muenster and cheddar cheeses that create layers of enjoyment. The flavor from the Portobello is earthy but not overpowering and gives the other notes room to shine.
The crinkle-cut fries have the advantage of an increased surface area with their deep grooves and cuts making it a more efficient tool to scoop up the savory sauces versus a smooth-surface fry. Their geometric shape offers an appealing exterior with more distinct edges that crisp up in the fryer.
We came, we saw and we ate one of the most famous burgers on the planet with other Coloradans who are happy to accept a little piece of the “Big Apple” into our mountain culture. As our state continues to grow into a vast mecca of transplants, more experienced and cultured palates also bring expectations for newer, more diverse food options. A line reminiscent of a theme park spells out the excitement and it’s abundantly clear that there are many eager patrons ready to have the Shake Shack experience in Colorado.