Brooklyn, NY (Fulton Street)
The only place in NYC to get a real, Chicago-style hot dog. They get an A for effort — the hot dog has all the right stuff (mustard, onion, pickle, sport pepper, tomato, neon green relish, celery salt on a poppy seed bun). However, the hot dog is too small so you're basically eating wet veggies in a mushy bun because their relish soaks everything.
My nephew Buster, my hot dog partner in crime, wasn't complaining in this pic below. And I really don't usually either because I'm so desperate for a good hot dog in NYC. But the truth is it's not the best.
Here's what I love about Shake Shack. The people behind the counter are awesome, including this lass, who looks exactly like Janet Jackson. I also was fond of a guy at the Upper West Side location and gave him a shout out in the acknowledgment page of a book I had published called OMG! How to Survive 101 F'd Situations. I'm sure the guy has no idea he's in my book.
More importantly, Shake Shack has incredible cheese fries. I normally don't like crinkle cut fries but these are cooked perfectly golden. And their cheese sauce is the closest thing I've found to the best cheese sauce (Michael's in Highland Park, IL).
Their burgers are also incredible. Their blend of juicy seasoned meat (I'm guessing there's some brisket in there), the perfect egg bun and secret sauce is so delicious that I walked 1.5 miles to Shake Shack and back in 100 degree heat and insane humidity a month ago just to have one. Wheezing the whole way but determined not to leave New York without experiencing the joy.
Shake Shack Hot Dog: **
Shake Shack Burger: ****
Shake Shack cheese fries: ****
Shake Shack shakes/concretes: ****
Here's a pic of the original Shake Shack in Madison Square Park