It should come as no surprise that my first post of last year was about a cheesesteak. But in keeping with my more recent efforts to both diversify what I eat and write about and get back to one of the key foods that I neglected while downing all those steaks, I’m kicking off 2023 with a hamburger post.
After writing about the great cheeseburger I had at Crisp Chik’n in Lansdowne a few weeks ago, I was still on the hunt for more good ones and was able to partake in that endeavor while staying close to home again Monday for lunch.
I’ve posted on Delco Steaks several times – including that first post of last year – for their cheesesteaks, but they also serve hamburgers that I have been meaning to try for a while. On top of that, a Shake Shack – one of the few chains with food I find difficult to resist – opened a short drive from me within the past couple weeks. I decided to try burgers from both places – back to back – to see how they compare to each other, as well as to the one I had at Crisp Chik’n.
I started at Delco Steaks’ Ridley, PA, location. They offer a choice of four or six ounce burger patties. If I were only eating that one, I’d have almost certainly gone with the bigger option. But the patties at Shake Shack are four ounces and I wanted to compare apples to apples. I also wasn’t sure if I’d feel like eating another burger so soon after downing a six-ouncer.
I ordered my quarter-pounder topped with Cooper Sharp cheese, fried onions, pickles and ketchup and ate it in my car. To wash it down, I had a Sprecher’s cherry soda from home. It went very well with the burger.
Unfortunately, as would also be the case at Shake Shack, I wasn’t able to get fully satisfying shots of the burger at Delco Steaks because of the extent to which the patty was covered by the cheese and other toppings.
On the plus side, they use fresh meat and the burger was juicy and cooked nicely. It had a bit of pink inside. The flavor wasn’t bad or overly bland. But it didn’t really stand out. It was a good solid burger; not a great one.
After finishing it off I only had a 5-10 minute ride before arriving at Shake Shack’s new Springfield, PA, location. As I alluded to above, I’m not new to this chain and have been very impressed with them in the past. I’ve eaten at several other outlets a handful of times – including the original one in a New York City park.
Although they have computers and credit card slots for self-serve ordering and paying, there is at least also an option for counter service. The place was packed and I just went straight to the computer closest to the door to order a cheeseburger with onions and pickles. Ketchup was self-serve and they didn’t offer fried onions. If I had remembered that, I’d have probably ordered my other burger with raw onions for the sake of consistency.
I passed on getting a milkshake at Delco Steaks, both because I wasn’t sure I wanted two shakes along with two burgers in such a short period of time and I wasn’t that impressed with the shake I had there previously. But Shake Shack does a fantastic job with their milkshakes, which are made with high quality frozen custard. So I ordered a black & white malt to go with my cheeseburger.
The wait for my order wasn’t nearly as bad as I feared it would be. Although I may have been able to find a seat inside, I took my burger and shake outside and ate on a nearby bench.
At least in theory, chains make everything on their menus the exact same way every time. While that can be a turn-off in many cases, at Shake Shack, it’s a positive. In the case of their milkshakes, they clearly have a formula in terms of how much syrup, malt, etc., goes into each one. And they should never mess with it. As was the case each previous time I’ve had one, the flavor was perfect and the consistency moderately thick. I can see myself running in there for one when the craving strikes as I’m driving by at some point.
Based on my experiences, Shake Shack is also consistent with the preparation and quality of their burgers. The one I had Monday was no exception. It had the same great tasting and well-seasoned beef, charred edges and juicy center that I’ve experienced at all four locations I’ve visited.
While I enjoyed both burgers – and as much as I’d like to be able to go with the local business over the national chain – there is no denying I preferred the one at Shake Shack. Both were perfectly made, but the beef at Shake Shack was more flavorful. They must use either some kind of blend or perhaps high quality chuck.
It’s a closer call between the burgers at Shake Shack and Crisp Chik’n. They have different flavor profiles, with the one from Crisp Chik’n having more of a char-grilled taste. Both are outstanding and I’ll definitely be returning to each place.
I’m also not writing off the burgers at Delco Steaks. I want to try their six-ouncer at some point. Sometimes a thicker patty makes a difference.
In the mean time, I’ve got another type of sandwich that I’ve neglected on tap for my next post.