If you don't know about Shake Shack and haven't heard the news that the New York City burger chain is opening its first Colorado burger bar at 2995 Larimer Street this Wednesday, March 21, you probably just don't care about hamburgers (or you're simply unfazed by the hype). Even if you haven't been to the original in New York, you've likely encountered the brand in Las Vegas, Chicago, Los Angeles or Washington, D.C. (among many other cities). So why did Denver have to wait so long, when burgs like Milwaukee and Lexington, Kentucky, are already wallowing in Shack Sauce? Who knows, but at least the Danny Meyer-run company is rewarding our patience with a burger to call our own: the Green Chile CheddarShack.
Like all Shake Shack burgers, this one begins with a Martin's potato roll, which is single-handedly responsible for the creation of the word "squishy." The beef itself is a four-ounce patty that's smashed onto the griddle to achieve a caramelized lace on one side. The restaurant uses a hormone- and antibiotic-free blend of Angus sirloin, brisket and short rib.
The regional magic happens with a topper of marinated green chiles, jalapeños and scallions. This isn't the standard roasted green chile we're used to out here in the West; it's more of a crunchy relish, only without any sweetness. There's also a sprinkle of shredded white cheddar, which takes the place of the standard square of American cheese. It's a fun burger with a fresh, barely spicy edge, so it's worth ordering at least once for the novelty factor, if nothing else (for you Shake Shack special-menu completists). But we're guessing it won't replace what fans have been salivating over since the news broke last year that the burger joint would soon arrive.
If you plan on braving the line come Wednesday (the doors will open at 11 a.m. after a 10:45 ribbon-cutting ceremony), make sure you leave room for dessert. The frozen-custard concrete made with a slice of salted honey-lavender pie from Denver's own Long I Pie (a true artisan original from Shauna Lott, who bakes her pies in cast-iron pans) is insanely good. Or go with another locally made confection: a concrete with a Glazed & Confuzed doughnut blended in. Doughnut and pie flavors will change regularly, so there will always be something new to look forward to on the menu.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.