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Has a burger photo ever been quite so pornographic?

Image: Mai Pham

In case you haven’t yet heard, Shake Shack—Danny Meyer’s incredibly popular fast-casual temple to the all-American burger—is coming to Houston. The first location, slated to open before the end of the year, will be located on the first floor of The Galleria near Cheesecake Factory. The second, in Rice Village, with debut in 2017.

In anticipation of its upcoming Galleria opening, Shake Shack held a one-time, special pop-up event this past Sunday afternoon at The Pass & Provisions. For the menu, Shake Shack came to the table with burgers and fries. The Pass & Provisions offered a couple of its signature pizzas, a choice of three cocktails, wine and dessert in the form of their house-made soft-serve maraschino cherry ice cream with cacao nibs. 8th Wonder Brewery and Saint Arnold Brewing Company were also on hand with ice-cold beer. 

“We’re excited to be here at the Pass & Provisions to give a sneak peek at what’s soon to come here in Houston,” said Mark Rosati, Shake Shack’s culinary director, who had brought an entire team with him for the event. How excited, you ask? “We have 1,500 RSVPs, but we’re prepared to make 1,800 burgers today,” he said, even as a long line of patrons eagerly lined up for his company’s famous burgers and fries.

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Shacking up.

Image: Mai Pham

Needless to say, the pop-up was an overwhelming hit. Pictures of mouthwatering ShackBurgers and crinkle-cut fries started dominating Houston-based Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat accounts shortly after the pop-up started at noon.

As one of the first people to arrive at the event, I was lucky enough to get my burger and fries before the lines got too long. My only mistake was exactly that—I got one burger and one order of fries. If I could do it over again, I would have ordered two burgers for myself, because they were that good. Apparently the "premium ingredients" the brand boasts so much about really do make all the difference.

Hot from the griddle, with the cheese melted just so and the patty glistening with juices, the ShackBurger was topped with crisp lettuce, two slices of ripe red tomato and Shacksauce. I added ketchup ‘cause that’s my thing, then proceeded to enjoy each bite.

Gourmet burgers tend to get really messy and often fall apart. There’s also the phenomenon of either too much patty or too much bun, or too much going on in terms of toppings. The ShackBurger, thankfully, kept things simple. The ratio of bun to cheese and meat was exactly what it should be. It held together in my hand, everything working together to create an endorphin-producing melt-in-your-mouth meaty burger flavor. I practically inhaled it. I wanted another one. 

I didn’t finish my crinkle cut fries (I prefer straight cut), but that’s neither here nor there. The fact of it is, that ShackBurger was incredibly satisfying, priced right for my pocketbook ($6) and made me very happy. I used to be a die hard In-N-Out fan (and still love their burgers), but this Shake Shack pop-up showed me that there is another way. Here’s to its opening in Houston, and soon. I can’t wait.

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