Dining Out: Island Burgers and Shakes

By CASEY RYAN

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Dining Out 1 colorCareful or you might miss it! Between 51st and 52nd  St. on Ninth Avenue, squeezed in between the myriad of other restaurants in Hell’s Kitchen, is Island Burgers and Shakes. This restaurant was founded in 1996 by coworkers Will Brown and Mark Calvino, who were fed up with mediocre burgers. Fifteen years later, this successful joint is still going strong. In fact they are opening up new locations all around Manhattan in the coming year.

This little venue does not look like much more than a pick-up window from the street, but somehow, once you get inside there is plenty of seating. When I went we had seven people in our party and we were able to sit down right away. Upon entering, I instantly picked up a retro ‘50s burger shack vibe; however, there are plenty of subtle modern touches that keep the décor from becoming too tacky or too ironic. As the name implies, this restaurant has amazing, melt-in-your mouth burgers. These burgers are not just typical burgers; there are over 60 different burgers with combinations of many unique toppings to choose from. From avocado to chili, there is something guaranteed to intrigue even the most experienced palate.

Having just eaten chili the night before, I was not particularly looking for a burger, so instead I opted for the El Camino ($13.00) with churascos (grilled chicken), instead of beef. It. Was. Amazing. In between two pieces of sourdough bread, the chicken was grilled perfectly and it was complemented by jack cheese, bacon and ranch dressing on top. Although the presentation was not focused on aesthetics, it fit in with the traditional American theme. Besides, the sandwich was packed with so much chicken that the moment I took a bite it all fell apart anyway.

Need some fries with that shake? Add a burger for an all-american meal on 9th Ave between 51st and 55nd.
Need some fries with that shake? Add a burger for an all-american meal on 9th Ave between 51st and 55nd.

Although my El Camino was good, the real show stoppers of the meal were the sides. The fries ($4.75) were perfectly crisp with just enough seasoning on them, and not a single one was soggy or undercooked. The guacamole and salsa ($9.25) were both extremely fresh, but be warned, the guacamole definitely has a little kick. Bonus: the servers brought us extra chips whenever we ran out.

By far, my favorite thing I ordered was the black and white shake ($5.75). This shake was the richest and airiest milkshake I have ever had. After just a few sips, I almost ordered a second. Unfortunately, I made a rookie mistake and ordered it as soon as I sat down. It was so rich it filled me up before any of the other dishes arrived, so when placing your order plan strategically.

I was also surprised to see how attentive the service was. We were a big group on a Saturday night in Manhattan and the servers still checked in with us multiple times and no one’s water ever was below the half way mark. This place was a great find, especially if you are bored of the traditional burger chain. The only downside were the pricing. Even though the food was great, when I think burgers I do not think about spending thirteen bucks, plus the cost of fries. On the other hand, the service was so great I personally did not mind paying a little more. So next time you are in the area, check out this little treasure and enjoy a tasty and tasteful dive into a modern day burger joint.

Taste: 3

Location: 3

Service: 4

Overall: 3.5