Shake Shack's menu items ranked from worst to best

Shake Shack is quickly climbing the charts as one of America's favorite fast casual eateries. Its origin story begins in Manhattan's Madison Square Park in 2001. At that early stage of life, Shake Shack was just a humble hot dog cart. Even though the cart was successful, things didn't change much for three years. But then in 2004, the company upgraded from a cart to a kiosk within the same park and started selling burgers, fries, and milkshakes to complete the transformation into what we know as Shake Shack today.

Fifteen years later, more than 200 Shake Shack restaurants exist across the United States and around the globe in various countries including Japan, Kuwait, Russia, South Korea, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and more. While New York remains the home of Shake Shack, you can find this fast casual restaurant in 29 other states, as well.

While Shake Shack doesn't have an especially complicated menu, there are some items that are at the head of the class and shouldn't be missed... and some you probably shouldn't waste your time on. Let's take a look at Shake Shack's menu items ranked from worst to best.

Shake Shack's Chicken Dog

The chicken dog at Shake Shack is simply something that should not exist. Perhaps it sounds like a relatively healthy option but, don't be fooled, you will regret ordering this thing. It tastes more like a generic hot dog than anything else. If you ordered it expecting to taste the flavor of chicken, you will be left wanting, and will instead be rueing your wasted trip to Shake Shack.

The restaurant claims their chicken dog is made with apple and sage but it just tastes like a conglomeration of congealed meats, a dash of nearly flavorless spices, and a tiny bit of sugar to add a hint of sweetness. That mush is then mechanically pushed together and formed to look like any other hot dog that you'd find at your local grocery store.

Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of Shake Shack's chicken dog is that they advertise it as a sausage on their menu. That falsely gives hope that it's something other than a hot dog made with unknown parts of a chicken, when in fact that's exactly what it is, according to the way it tastes. Stay far away from the chicken dog the next time you go to Shake Shack.

Shake Shack's 'Shroom Burger

It seems like all restaurants want to have a vegetarian option on their menu these days. While that can be a noble aspiration, the 'Shroom Burger at Shake Shack couldn't be anyone's idea of a good meal. Maybe if you're dragged kicking and screaming to Shake Shack and you're a vegetarian grossed out by all the carnivores chowing down on meat, then maybe it's okay to order this meatless burger. But, truthfully, you might as well get some fries or one of their desserts instead. Save your hard-earned money and get something you'll actually enjoy.

Shake Shack is known for their meaty burgers, so they can't be blamed for haphazardly slapping together this vegetarian option to appease those who would otherwise complain. It's difficult to believe anyone would go to Shake Shack on their own volition because they're yearning for a big mushroom patty.

What further makes the 'Shroom Burger more difficult to justify is that it's simply not that healthy for you. If you're going to waste calories on something, waste it on something yummy. Don't choose an oily, fried mushroom that is topped with a mound of cheese. Speaking of cheese, the best part of this burger is the Muenster cheese — but it's not good enough to justify ordering one.

Shake Shack's fries

The crinkle-cut fries at Shake Shack are a riddle wrapped in an enigma that is then deep fried. Many people love their fries but just as many people despise their fries. The main issue is that Shake Shack's fries just can't be trusted. Depending on the location, time of day, and a healthy amount of random luck, you will either receive perfectly crisp fries or fries that are much too soggy.

If you've never had the fries at Shake Shack, the best way to describe them is to think of those crinkle-cut fries you had in elementary school. They are an upgraded version of those school fries — but not too upgraded. Interestingly, Shake Shack tried to go away from their crinkle-cut fries and they nearly caused a riot. Customers even made a petition demanding that Shake Shack discontinue their never-frozen, hand-cut fries and return to their frozen, crinkle-cut fries. The petition apparently worked because the frozen fries are back for good.

If you're up for some elementary school nostalgia, go to Shake Shack and order the fries. You won't be blown away but you will remember who your teacher was in third grade.

Shake Shack's frozen custard

Shake Shack has a lot of legitimately good dessert options. When faced with their plethora of sweet possibilities, don't chicken out and simply order their frozen custard. Their frozen custard is homemade, they have both chocolate and vanilla, and you can get it in a cone or a cup. Truthfully, as far as frozen custards are concerned, it's actually quite a bit above average. The problem is it's expensive, so you get limited bang for your buck.

If you want Shake Shack's frozen custard, order a concrete. With the concrete, you pick either chocolate or vanilla and then you select your mix-ins. The list of available mix-ins varies by location but you can be confident that they use high-quality ingredients. Just as important, they completely blend together the frozen custard and the mix-ins, so it's not like some fast food restaurants that leave the bottom half of your concrete neglected and unblended.

Another option to get the goodness of Shake Shack's frozen custard but in a tastier form is to order a Creamsicle float. It may sound odd if you've never had one before, but it's entirely satisfying.

Shake Shack's hot dog

As mentioned, Shake Shack was just a hot dog cart in the beginning. Since it was their primary item at the start of their history, you'd think they'd make an outstanding hot dog, right? It sounds like it should be right — but it's not. Shake Shack's hot dogs are quite a bit above average in taste but they are too expensive for what you get. You can find hot dogs just as good for a more reasonable price at numerous food carts around the East Coast, for example.

The hot dog itself tastes good but it's also really fatty so the texture can be a bit chewy. The highlight of the Shake Shack hot dog is actually the potato bun. The bun is slathered with melted butter and then griddled to perfection. If you love their hot dogs, you probably just love their buns — which is totally understandable.

While there are better items on Shake Shack's menu, if you do order the hot dog, be sure to accept the added cheese they will offer. The cheese is tasty and makes the buttery flavor of the potato bun pop even more.

Shake Shack's cheese fries

To combat the chances that you will get the aforementioned soggy fries at Shake Shack, do yourself a favor and just get their cheese fries. Shake Shack melts American cheese over their regular fries and the result is something that will taste good enough, no matter if the fries themselves are crispy or not.

The restaurant posts a tongue-in-cheek warning on their website that their cheese fries are highly addictive. While that's too far over the top, their cheese fries are a definite upgrade over their regular fries. They're still the same frozen, crinkle-cut fries, but the American cheese makes all the difference. It's the identical high-quality cheese that is on a number of their burgers, so the taste upgrade is undisputed.

You can still get a side of ketchup to go with your cheese fries but it'd be a waste of time, as you will have an ample supply of cheese to dip your fries in. You don't need to worry about naked fries slipping through the cracks, they will all get their fair share of cheese love.

Shake Shack's hamburger

If you are only comfortable taking baby steps into the world of Shake Shack, go ahead and order the hamburger. While there are definitely better and more adventurous options on their menu, this is a good place to start for the timid. The outstanding quality you will receive will give you first-hand evidence of how great Shake Shack is at creating some of the best fast food burgers. You will also learn that this restaurant places taste above looks, as the hamburger will look messy and unkempt but will taste better than you expect.

The problem, of course, is that your timidness is stopping you from experiencing the full greatness that Shake Shack has to offer. You're on the right path; you just didn't go far enough.

Shake Shack will put lettuce, onion, pickle, or tomato on your hamburger. You can also make it a double hamburger and add applewood smoked bacon or cheese (or both). All of those extra just add to the taste, so go ahead and tell them to stack it high with your favorites.

Shake Shack's Black & White Shake

It's called Shake Shack for a good reason. While the burgers get all the praise, the shakes are really good, too. Beyond vanilla and chocolate, they have additional flavors to choose from including caramel, strawberry, and even a coffee shake. While some people love the chocolate, the real best of the best when it comes to Shake Shack shakes is the Black & White Shake. It's a simple concept, yet really well executed.

To make the Black & White Shake, they take vanilla frozen custard and slowly mix in fudge sauce. The key is the fudge and the custard stay strong and it's not all liquified into a chocolatey soup. Each mouthful will taste different depending on how much vanilla custard and how much fudge is tickling your taste buds.

When ordering, you should know that Shake Shack will make any of their shakes malted. If you love malt, don't forget to ask for for the upgrade when ordering your Black & White Shake or any of their other shakes.

Shake Shack's Shack Stack

If you just want a scrumptious combination of flavors and textures, you can't go wrong with the Shack Stack. This behemoth burger stars a deep-fried portobello mushroom with a thick layer of breaded goodness. Beneath the mushroom is a bed of melted cheese, which rests on extra tender burger meat. On top of everything is tomato, lettuce, and a generous coating of ShackSauce.

For the uninitiated, ShackSauce is one of the tastiest burger sauces you'll find anywhere. It contains a mixture of mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, dill pickling brine, and a little bit of a kick thanks to cayenne pepper. You can try to make ShackSauce at home, but Shake Shack's version is perfection. It makes all their burgers better, so don't even think about asking for it to be removed.

The only downside with the Shack Stack is it can be difficult to eat unless you're blessed with an extra large mouth hole. Things can get messy if the mushroom starts breaking down, the cheese starts leaking, and the veggies start to topple. But, then again, with everything being finger-licking good, you won't mind too much if the leaning tower begins to fall.

Shake Shack's Shack Attack

If you love chocolate — really and truly love chocolate — the Shack Attack (not to be confused with the Shaq Attack) might go down as your favorite dessert item of all-time. This dessert is like if Xzibit heard you liked chocolate so he put chocolate in your chocolate so you can chocolate while you chocolate.

If you haven't ordered already and want to hear the specifics, the Shack Attack is chocolate custard mixed with dark chocolate chunks, chocolate fudge sauce, and cookie dough made with chocolate truffles. On top is, of course, more chocolate in the form of chocolate sprinkles. To say this dessert is rich would be an understatement. But, despite all the chocolate, it genuinely tastes wonderful and there is enough going on that each bite is a tasty adventure.

For dieters, this obviously shouldn't be your go-to dessert. Then again, if you're a chocolate lover and you're at Shake Shack, it'd almost be irresponsible to deny yourself of this chocolate orgy.

Shake Shack's Chick'n Shack

America loves their chicken sandwiches and Shake Shack delivers a worthy candidate in the fight for supremacy in this department. The secret is their tasty chicken. Shake Shack only uses chicken that is cage-free and also free from antibiotics and hormones. They take the chicken and first cook it slowly in a buttermilk marinade. Then, it's covered with batter, seasoned, and floured. Finally, it's expertly fried to create the breaded chicken patty to put the in the middle of their Chick'n Shack.

That's just the beginning, as one of the main selling points of this sandwich is the memorable buttermilk herb mayonnaise that is coated on the bottom bun. Above the mayo you'll find pickles and then a reasonable amount of shredded lettuce. The bun is a potato roll that doesn't use any GMOs.

While Shake Shack will always be known primarily for their burgers, the Chick'n Shack itself makes this restaurant worth a visit. It's not the best chicken sandwich you can find anywhere, but you won't be unsatisfied with the quality.

Shake Shack's SmokeShack

The SmokeShack doesn't look overly complex, but it sure is flavorful. First, you decide whether you want the base to be either a single or double cheeseburger. Obviously, if you're hungry at all, go with the double. Then, Shake Shack piles on the applewood bacon that is extra smoky but all-natural, along with and a slathering of ShackSauce. Last but definitely not least is the superstar of this party: the chopped cherry peppers. Shake Shack goes the extra mile to make sure these cherry peppers are high quality and you can surely taste that dedication when you take your first bite. The mix of flavors you get from, specifically, the beef, American cheese, and the peppers, is heavenly.

Shake Shack actually released the recipe to their SmokeShack, but good luck replicating it. The recipe has 13 ingredients and unless you're a chef who also knows where to source the best ingredients, you might as well go to Shake Shack and let them do the heavy lifting.

Shake Shack's Shack-cago Dog

While Shake Shack's regular hot dog isn't anything to write home about, their Shack-cago Dog is a game-changer. Even if you jump on an airplane and head for the Windy City, it's unlikely that you can outdo this dog. While this is the same hot dog that was described previously, what makes all the difference is the high-quality extras that hop along for the ride. With the Shack-cago Dog, you get super fresh cucumber, onion, tomato, and sport pepper, along with mustard, celery salt, pickles, and Rick's Picks relish.

While it all tastes wonderful, the sport pepper and the relish steal the show. The sport pepper gives the Shack-cago Dog an authentic Chicago flavor, while the relish adds the right amount of pizzazz to awaken the veggies. Even if you're not usually a fan of relish — or even vegetables, for that matter — you should try this amazing combination of goodness. Don't be surprised if your whole view of hot dogs changes after tasting this thing.

Shake Shack's ShackBurger

While Shake Shack has invented plenty of ways to tempt your taste buds, their original ShackBurger still reigns supreme. You can have either a single or double patty, and have it with or without American cheese. The ShackBurger is topped with tomato, lettuce, and their coveted ShackSauce. It doesn't sound like a combination that should be at the top of the list, but its simplicity is part of the magic. The ShackSauce is able to stand out in this environment while the tomato and lettuce serve as the perfect complementary flavors to the sauce.

All that said, it's Shake Shack's beef that will have you coming back again and again. Their beef is of the finest quality and is created with a proprietary blend of burger meat and seasoned with salt and pepper. To cook the beef, a special technique is used that "smashes" the meat on a griddle. It may sound complicated, but all you will end up caring about is the "Yum!" you'll internally exclaim after each and every bite.