There comes a time in every New Yorker’s life when you just need a little shake. And when your time comes, head over to Madison Square Park to, where else, Shake Shack. Danny Meyer’s take-out stand of burgers, shakes, and fries opened shop in 2004 and quickly became the destination for the kind of classic American food you usually find at roadside summer stands or boardwalks. It also reminds me of the A&W on Route 7 as you head south out of Middlebury, Vermont. There, you pull in in your car and are served by waitresses on roller blades who bring the food right to your car window! I’m convinced one can have nothing but good memories at these places.

This being Manhattan, the lines at the Shack are infamously long. So before heading over you can actually check out the Shack Cam, a real-time view of the line snaking through the southeastern part of Madison Square Park on 23rd Street.

Three former Phaidon coworkers were overdue for a lunch date, and since the weather forecast called for clear skies and warm sun, eating in the park seemed a no-brainer. (Although runners up on our list included ABC Kitchen and Boqueria). I’m not lucky enough to have “summer Fridays,” those coveted half-days some employers offer between Memorial Day and Labor Day, but could skip out of work just long enough to wait in the 50-minute line and devour the Shack Burger (cooked medium, with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, and something called ShackSauce) with crinkle fries.

My companions sampled the thick chocolate milkshake, lemonade, the New York dog, and ‘Shroom Burger (a crisp-fried portobello burger). Next time, I’ve decided, I will try the Concrete Jungle. The “Concretes” are “dense frozen custard blended at high speeds with toppings and mix-ins.”  The Concrete Jungle is no less than a high-speed blend of vanilla custard, hot fudge, bananas, and peanut butter (in other words, my food nirvana). But I will have to prepare for this mentally and physically and I didn’t feel up to the jungle today. Personally I think Shake Shack should also add a fish burger to its menu – a nice crispy fillet with homemade tartar sauce and lemon – don’t hold out on us Danny!

Shack Shake is the kind of place I wish I could take my grandma to. I think she’d love the frozen custard and the small, thin-style patty. But then again, I don’t think anyone in her generation could conceive of waiting in line for an hour for a burger, even a really great one.

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