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Shake Shack Carlsbad
A burger, fries and shake are the way to go at the new Shake Shack at The Beacon La Costa, at La Costa Avenue and El Camino Real in Carlsbad. Photo courtesy Katalyst Public Relations
Columns Food & Wine Lick the Plate

The amazing Shake Shack lands in Carlsbad

There was a time a few years back when decent burgers in the area were few and far between. And I’m not referring to the gastro public house trendy burgers with fancy Australian beef and an egg and so many other toppings on top it was difficult to tell it was a burger.

I’m talking about a simple, classic burger with minimal toppings cooked on a flat top that’s reasonably sized.

The past couple of years has brought an influx of solid burger options to North County, including Hamburger Hut, Five Guys, Habit. Now with the addition of probably the most hyped burger chain ever in Shake Shack, we have officially become a burger lover’s paradise.

The original Shack opened in 2004 in New York City’s Madison Square Park and has expanded to more than 350 locations in 27 states and more than 100 international locations.

Our local spot is in Carlsbad at The Beacon at La Costa and marks Shake Shack’s sixth San Diego location along with Little Italy, Downtown, Mission Valley, Westfield UTC and Del Mar.

Speaking of The Beacon, if you are not familiar it’s that somewhat hidden shopping center up on the hill on El Camino Real and La Costa Avenue that is poised for a comeback, and given the huge appeal of Shake Shack and the throngs of people already packing it, the surrounding businesses are sure to be discovered by those folks.

It is home to a collection of restaurants and shops that include Equinox Luxury Fitness Club and Spa, Lofty Coffee Co., Wise Ox, Glow Theory, One Medical, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams and the fabulous La Costa Wine Co.

One thing I will say upfront about Shake Shack, especially a new one, is that it’s going to be busy, all the time. Don’t go if you’re in a hurry, and I would advise eating it on-premise on their nice patio as this food just seems so much better coming right out of the kitchen.

OK, let’s talk about those burgers, those glorious burgers, made from 100% custom Angus beef blend, never frozen, no hormones or antibiotics ever and humanely raised and grazed in the USA. That’s good stuff folks and I’m assuming based on the flavor it’s a nice fatty blend of happy beef.

There are a few options on the menu, and while they are worth exploring, stick with the basics first. The ShackBurger is the way to go, and it is all that and then some. It’s a simple cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato and ShakeSauce and that’s really all you need. I could power down two of these no problem with some crinkle-cut fries, Shack-made lemonade and, of course, a shake for after.

They could just offer this mix on their menu, and I would be fine with that. The burger, fries and shake are best in class and the lemonade is a nice non-soda option to wash it down. While I’m on the simple-is-good part of the menu, I should note there is a basic hamburger and cheeseburger with your choice of toppings and a delightful-looking grilled cheese with American cheese on a potato bun.

I will also admit to trying and loving the Chick’n Shack and the Flat-Top Hot Dog that is split and grilled to perfection.

Then, of course, they have their more elaborate options like the SmokeShack, a cheeseburger with Niman Ranch applewood-smoked bacon, chopped cherry peppers and ShakeSauce.

In the “I’ll leave this to the vegetarians” category, there is a ‘Shroom Burger with a crisp-fried portobello mushroom filled with melted muenster and cheddar cheese with lettuce, tomato and ShakeSauce. The ShakeStack is a variation of that with a cheeseburger topped with a ‘Shroom Burger.

It could be argued that the sweet side of the Shake Shack menu is as delectable as the savory. I went with a simple chocolate shake to share, which made my very happy lunch even happier. The chocolate pie with chocolate ganache toasted oat pie is handspun (as is all their shake-like concoctions) with chocolate frozen custard topped with croissant cookie crumbles.

Even more outrageous in the best possible way is the Wake & Shake with Red Bay coffee and vanilla frozen custard, maple syrup, orange zest topped with whipped cream and orange candies. I really want to work in their test kitchen, I mean how much fun would that be? Oh yeah, don’t forget the floats that offer root beer, purple cow and creamsicle.

Adult beverages include Shack-canned wine, Shackmeister Ale and local beers including Stone Delicious IPA, Cali Creamin’, Alesmith .394 and Modern Times Orderville.

Guests can also place orders to-go at the Shack or preorder for pickup or delivery via the Shack App or www.shakeshack.com. Find them at 7740 El Camino Real Suite K, Carlsbad.

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