This news is, admittedly, delayed. But still, it’s worth mentioning.
A not-so-quiet storm loomed over a corner of Tahlia St. with the opening of Shake Shack last December and before I went on vacation to join J in her wedding, I submitted myself to the long lines of Riyadhizens piling up in front of Shake Shack for its grand opening. After all, it was one of the five top restaurants we wished to arrive in Riyadh and I would be a fraud if I were not there to witness its presence after begging the restaurant food chain heavens to bring it here.
So there I was, the only Filipino in the Family Section line waiting for the store to open after the Isha Prayer. It seems reasonable that the turnout was crazy lot…apparently, this Shake Shack branch at the end of Localizer Mall is considered to be the largest one they have opened in the whole world! How’s that for Riyadh making a splash by bringing Shake Shack here? Totally awesomesauce.
As the prayer time ended, service crew with walkie talkies started organizing the crowd to make sure every one is served accordingly. While waiting for my turn, I recognized one of the supervisors on the floor and it was one of the previous managers of The Noodle House! He said hello to me and we were all smiles talking about his new job. He also introduced me to the Area Manager from South Africa who insisted I get pulled out of the line and be served first. But, given that I was amidst the all-Arab crowd who all waited for half an hour out in the cold with me, I feared for my life and decided to politely decline. Besides, there were only three more people ahead of me so it’s cool to wait a little while. It gave me time to take photos and observe the restaurant.
To the uninitiated, Shake Shack is a beloved New York City-born burger joint that actually began as a hot dog cart at Madison Square Garden back in the early 2000s. As of date, there are over 60 locations of Shake Shack worldwide and growing. What makes them stand out is first and foremost, their Shakes (which is primarily why they are called “Shake” Shack) followed by the 100% Angus beef burgers which are devoid of any antibiotics or hormones (they were one of the first chains to do so, nowadays many have followed suit).
I was there on my own and let me just get it out here that I did not consume all of these in one seating. Haha! #defensive. I just wanted to order more than one item so that I can write more about it on the blog. I just tasted each of them and the rest I took home and shared with friends.
First up, the SmokeShack Cheeseburger (38SR). It’s your regular ShackBurger topped with hickory smoked veal strips, spicy cherry peppers and the signature ShackSauce. The bun was soft and absorbed much of the oily remains and the beef was tasty enough on its own. This happens to be my favorite (after tasting it in Jeddah before) mainly because of the cherry peppers’ acidity that cuts through the meatiness and balances the overall flavor in every bite. However, if you’re expecting this to be “spicy” as it says in the menu, it really isn’t.
Considering my penchant for all things spicy, I was inclined to try this special ShackBurger being offered during their opening week. The only difference from the regular ShackBurger was that it’s topped with batter-fried jalapeno peppers. Personally, the crunch is a good textural element but again, if you’re expecting something spicy, from my end, the jalapenos were leaning more towards the sour-y pickled side.
You may not know this, but this menu item is quite a controversial one. In 2013, the company changed these fries to address customer complaints that they were not as good as the other items on their menu. But when they did, sales for it further dropped and they reverted back to the crinkle cut fries instead. As it turns out, the consumers might have been confused. Anyway, for me they were a hearty handful that with just a few nibbles, you can feel stuffed. Well-cooked though, I must say. It had the crunch on the outside and perfect squishiness on the inside.
For dessert, I gave one of their signature concretes a try. Concretes at Shake Shack are made of dense, frozen custard blended at high speed with toppings and mix-ins. For this particular concrete, it is specially named after this Riyadh branch alluding to the street in which the store stands. It’s made of chocolate custard, marshmallow sauce, chocolate truffle cookie dough topped with shortbread cookie crumbles. If you’re looking for a sugar high, this will definitely hit the mark. Otherwise, it’s best to share with another person to share the sugar and calories!
Since the place was very crowded at that time, it was a bit awkward and difficult to take photos of the interiors of the restaurant. What I can say is that it looks similar to the Jeddah branch in terms of theme and decor (dark brown and light green colors) plus lots of open seating area from the ground floor to the second floor. As for the value for money, it’s a coveted brand, this Shake Shack, so I assume people will still go to it despite the price tag. Besides, most specialty burger places now averages from 30SR to 35SR so it’s competitive to its peers if I’m not mistaken. I guess with Shake Shack, its reputation precedes itself.
Localizer Mall (near the traffic light), Tahlia St.
Saturday to Thursday: 11:00 AM to 1:00 AM
Fridays: 1:00 PM to 1:00 AM