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Takes That Are Correct

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Granting that In-N-Out is tough competition, this is true:

What is the most overrated fast-food restaurant in the USA?

Shake Shack. I haven’t been to every cult fast food restaurant in America, but I’ve been to Shake Shack enough times to tell you that it’s not worth braving a line with 6,000 yuppies pushing strollers just to get a burger there. I’m convinced that Shake Shack’s success is strictly the result of savvy marketing and the fact that little kids go apeshit for crinkle fries. The best part of the Shake Shack burger is the bun, which is a Martin’s Potato Roll you can get at pretty much any grocery store. The fries are underwhelming to anyone above the age of eight. The special sauce is just undercover mayo. And the shakes are made of frozen custard that’s so dry it’s like sucking on a pile of dust. I’m not even sure how it comes out of the machine.

Does any of that stop me from doing a double take any time I see a Shake Shack out in the wild? Of course not. I’m drawn in like any other sucker. Oh wow, this airport has a Shake Shack! The Starbucks of burgers! Then I wait 20 minutes for a burger that I could have gotten in a tenth of the time from Five Guys. It’s not worth it. Five Guys may have the ambience of eating in a barn, but at least I get free peanuts.

There are definitely worse fast food restaurants than Shake Shack, like Jerry’s Subs or Burger King. But no one likes Burger King. If I’m eating at a Burger King, it’s because something awful has happened. You can’t be overrated if Americans generally consider you to be a last resort. You gotta be a true fast food destination, like Popeye’s (which is very much not overrated and is a manifestation of everything good about America). Shake Shack, like Chipotle, exists in that Fancy Fast Casual category where you get to pretend you’re being smarter and healthier for plunking down $4 extra to consume 1,500 calories worth of food inside the spiritual equivalent of an Apple store. I’d rather just to go an actual restaurant to get my burger.

Actually, Chipotle is another good candidate, although I think all of the ebola has made it less highly rated. But what puts Shake Shack over the top is that it actually has a star from the New York Times. I look forward to the 2-star review of Potbelly and 3-star review of Popeye’s this logically requires.

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