Last Friday morning, I had the pleasure of waiting in line to get to be one of the first to try Shake Shack in Metairie (located at the corner of Severn and Veterans, where Lager’s used to be).
While I don’t usually stand in lines hundreds of people long for food, I wanted to be able to get in there and test it / try it / give you my opinion. Plus, there was a ribbon cutting ceremony, and I’ve never actually seen one of those before so that was pretty interesting (but kind of miffed that there were no giant scissors)… We also got a free t-shirt and paper fan for being some of the first to eat there!
Here are some pictures of the line, decorations, and t-shirt/fan logo, as well as my line buddies. You can click on any picture to see it up closely:
I was a little surprised that their branding color is green because that’s a color that I associate with health food, but they *do* try to source organic, antibiotic/hormone free, and natural products whenever possible, so I guess it makes sense. I also applaud them for using local products – they have Haydel’s baked items in some of their ice creams and custards, as well as Abita Root Beer available.
The ordering process is a little different. You walk in and there are several kiosks greeting you, ready to take your order:
There is also a regular menu you can look at near the entrance. It’s mounted on a wall similar to Zoe’s/ Mooyah setups (similar restaurant size and vibe, too) , and also passed out to people waiting in line on busier days. Here’s the laminated paper menu (notice the GF bun entry):
So, back the kiosk. I was wondering if each item was going to be labelled as GF or not, and it isn’t… until you put in an allergy. There’s a button you can press to indicate top 8 allergies (Show Allergies, in upper left hand corner, pictured below):
When pressed, it will pop up a screen displaying some of the top allergens, like so:
Once you set your preferences, it WILL flag you on every item ordered on that particular order (not per person, per ORDER, so if you have several people with conflicting food allergies you may want to have them on separate tickets).
Once your allergy is noted, it will pop up a red “flag” every time you add something containing that allergen to your menu.
What a “flagged” item looks like ^^
Once you submit your order, it pops up a prompt for a manager or other employee to come enter a code. Normal patrons don’t deal with this step of the process, they would have moved on to the checkout with credit card or Apple pay, but understandably this step is to ensure the safety of guests with allergies.
I’m not certain if this happened BECAUSE I had items with wheat on my ticket (that belonged to my boyfriend) or if they do this with everyone. I’ll have to go back and get a separate ticket to find out. I purposely placed this order together so I could a) compare my bun to his and b) see how we were each treated differently. The associate wasn’t well trained on what to do with this (although it was one of her first days) but the manager came right over and took care of it.
I honestly found the kiosk really cool, fun, and easy– but I was a little upset that ALL gluten free items weren’t marked in the main menu as soon as you indicated your allergen. Many times you had to go through the step of selecting it on the screen before it would show you that it contained wheat, (when it could have been in the overview on the main menu) and that was kind of a time-suck. For many of the ice creams and custards I tried several different ways and toppings and still had it come back flagged so I’m honestly not sure whether they are or not. More on that in a minute.
If you ask for it, they’ll also print out a receipt for you that shows what you CAN’T have, but again, I would much rather a list of what I CAN have.
It looks like this:
So, that’s kind of a bummer but at least they show you the MIGHT have gluten items as opposed to just the DEFINITELY DO have gluten items.
As for the actual food, it looks like this.
DO NOT ORDER FRIES if you are a Celiac, they come in a shared fryer. I tried like 4-5 of them but immediately felt like it was a bad idea and stopped eating them. And honestly, they aren’t that special— they’re exactly like Ore Ida Crinkle Cut fries you find in the freezer section. So get your burger to go and have those fries waiting at home 🙂
The bun, was okay. It’s not the best bun I’ve ever had, it’s DEFINITELY not the worst. I’d give it a 7/10. I’ve had far better and am spoiled with some amazing brands now available, but most people would be really pleased with the Shake Shack bun. It doesn’t have a bitter aftertaste, and stays together nicely. It’s probably one of the most study gluten free buns I’ve ‘seen. It DEFINITELY looks different than the regular potato bun that isn’t gluten free, I was worried there wouldn’t be a big enough visual difference. Honestly, though the bun was good, I’d recommend a lettuce wrap instead, just because I think it’d be tastier that way. The meat tastes like a cross between Wendy’s and Steak and Shake.
The burger was nice. I got my Shack sauce on the side but didn’t eat it b/c I’m still not sure the Shake Shack sauce is GF, even though it wasn’t flagged, or on the “can’t have” menu– I don’t know what is in it, so I’m not eating it until someone can confirm with me it isn’t. I was told a few times that it is in fact gluten free.
Other entree options include the hot dog (with no bun or with lettuce wrap). You should avoid the mushroom burger, as it’s coated in breadcrumbs, AND placed in the shared fryer (plus, mushrooms can often be cross contaminated in harvesting as well).
As an update, this is directly from Shake Shack’s website:
We’ll gladly accommodate a gluten-free diet at each Shake Shack upon request. Just ask the Shack team for assistance and they’ll be happy to help. Please reference our Allergen Information page before visiting. Here are a few suggestions for anyone with a gluten allergy:
- Any burger can be ordered with a lettuce wrap, and most of our US Shacks offer gluten-free buns. Flat-top dogs can also be ordered with a lettuce wrap.
- Our ‘Shroom Burger contains breadcrumbs, so it should be avoided.
- Please do not order our fries. The oils in our fryers are filtered through the same equipment as our ‘Shroom Burgers.
- Frozen custard should be ordered without the cone, and make sure to double-check the ingredients of the “Seasonal Shakes” with our cashier before ordering.
- These mix-ins are safe to add: strawberry purée, chocolate toffee, marshmallow, fudge, caramel and chocolate sprinkles.
- As for drinks, skip the beer, but any soft drink or glass of wine is fine.
So, it seems like the custard is safe as long as it’s cone less. I was told the malt is stored in a separate container in the kitchen so as long as you order the mix-ins listed above and only those, you should be okay. I would STILL question the caramel and marshmallow until I knew who manufactured it (that’s just me), but you have it straight from the horse’s mouth above.
Click here for the rest of the allergen marked items: https://www.shakeshack.com/allergy/
I’d go there again, and am happy that they’ve given us a few options. The ordering process is easy and navigable, but I feel like it could be improved even further. I realize that’s something for corporate and not necessarily a comment to be directed at the local Metairie location.
In general, Shake Shack wouldn’t be my first choice, especially considering the teeny parking lot and even tinier indoor dining area (Lager’s was huge, so I’m not sure what happened there– they must have hugely expanded the kitchen), but the staff seems concerned about people with allergies and very friendly and happy to work there. I had a decent experience and the food was pretty tasty. It’s worth checking out, with caution. It’s also another desperately needed gluten free lunch option in Metairie.
Until next time,
To living gluten free in New Orleans,
The Gluten Free Guide to New Orleans