Where to Shake Shack, a new Harvard Square outpost of New York restaurateur Danny Meyer’s burger emporium.
What for Meyer made his name with high-end places like Gramercy Tavern, but it is Shake Shack that has the farthest reach, with branches from Boca Raton, Fla., to Beirut. Last year the first area location opened in Chestnut Hill. Now it comes to Cambridge. Visit for fast-food flavors created with high-quality ingredients.
The scene A cheerful employee greets new arrivals. “Have any questions? Would you like a menu to look at in line?” The place is full, and students in sweatshirts and professionals in suits look equally happy: Burgers and shakes are in the offing! The place is decorated in black, shades of gray, and stainless steel. People order on the first floor, then wait for food on one of the benches that line the walls. Here, a girl in green rain boots is napping in her father’s lap. There are tables upstairs, along with a fireplace and lounge seating, vast windows offering a view of the bricks of Harvard Square (and of nearby Tasty Burger). SportsCenter is on the television. A guy in maroon Keds and a leopard scarf listens to music through neon green earbuds while sipping a shake. Middle-age men with sandy mustaches wearing windbreakers down fries. There are international students speaking Mandarin, Arabic, Hindi. They take photos and apply post-meal Purel. Two friends with neck tattoos wearing hoodies sit down, trays loaded, and rub their hands together. “OK!” one says. They look at each other with glee, then pick up hot dogs and hamburgers and begin to eat, voracious as wolves.
What you’re eating A ShackBurger — with cheese, lettuce, tomato, and so-called ShackSauce — and hand-cut fries. Follow it up with a concrete made from Shake Shack’s frozen custard. You’ll find special local flavors such as Crimson Red Velvet (made with red velvet cake from South End Buttery) and Lobstah Shell (including lobster tail pastry shell from the North End).
Care for a drink? On offer: soda, lemonade, beer, and wine. But it is Shake Shack, after all. Try a shake in vanilla, chocolate, caramel, peanut butter, and more.
Overheard People debating what to order. “We have Lobstah Shell!” an employee informs those on line. “Are cherry peppers spicy?” someone asks. “I just don’t know if I’d go for something I’m not going to like.” Upstairs, people talk about backpacking, moving, posting burger photos to Instagram, and visiting parents. “I try to limit the number of things I ask my father about our new apartment when they visit. Can you fix everything? Run along! Go to Lowes three times while you’re here!” A staffer wanders the floor, taking the temperature: “How is everything tasting for you?” A group of girls in patterned sweaters — birds, stripes — eat together. One gets up to use the restroom. “We won’t eat your food or anything!” her friend yells after her. A table gossips about a secretive acquaintance: “I ran into him once late at night, seemingly walking home.” “I wonder if he has, like, a friend or a lady friend that’s out there.” A table of students with an atlas’s worth of accents discusses studying in the US. “You can’t study English in Miami. Everyone speaks Spanish.” They debate exchange rates and most expensive cities. “Boston is the most expensive!” As they get up to leave, one says to another, “Tomorrow we come in again, OK?”
92 Winthrop St., Harvard Square, Cambridge. 617-758-8495. www.shakeshack.com.Devra First can be reached at dfirst@ globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @devrafirst.