Long ago in a galaxy not so far away, Wendy’s hamburger chain coined a catchphrase, “Where’s the beef?” that, as we now say, “went viral.” It became so popular that it was even used as the title of a porn film.
With the opening of three new burger joints in the Wilton Manors/Fort Lauderdale area, we felt it was time to see how these newest places stack up.
1930 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
All the creations on the “Craft Burgers” section of the menu feature an 8 oz. Angus beef burger (unless otherwise noted) and fresh cut fries. The selections are unique; for example, the La Loca comes crusted with Sweet Chili Doritos, peppadew aioli, ghost pepper jack cheese and guajillo glaze.
Some are sheer genius, such as the Le Magnifique which mimics a bowl of French onion soup; topping the burger with gruyere, caramelized onions and housemade dijonaise. Others just seem odd; peanut butter, tomato jam, yellow cheddar and candied bacon – which tasted spectacular.
Special burgers average $15 while a basic burger (upon which you can add your own ingredients) is $12.95. An Impossible Burger, a new vegetarian option that has the mouth feel of actual ground beef, is $16.95.
Apps (the only disappointment of the evening was the Captain Crunch coated chicken fingers), salads (the lemon chicken was fresh, fanciful and filling, with a huge portion), sandwiches (the deep-fried PB&J is a decadent delight), milkshakes (many flavored with your favorite childhood cereals) and (soon-if not by the time you read this) grilled steaks and chops, are also available, as well as craft beers, cocktails and boozy milkshakes. Service is friendly if not the most polished or attentive. There’s an additional location in Coconut Creek.
Burgers & Beers
2031 N. Wilton Dr., Wilton Manors
This is the latest place to take over the space at the south end of Wilton Drive, last home to a Hershey ice cream parlor. Although they’ve gotten generally good reviews for the burgers and hot dogs, they have no website and no menu listed on their Facebook page. There are plenty of places to get a good burger on the Drive (Rosie’s, Mind Your Manors, Alibi, Rumors, The Grille). Without better promotion, I doubt this place will remain open long, no matter how good their food is. All food is cooked from fresh ingredients (they won’t even serve a veggie burger because they have to be kept frozen.) There is a grilled mahi sandwich as well as a bun full of grilled veggies for those who are not meat eaters. Beer and wine are available.
2400 N. Federal, Fort Lauderdale
The popular chain has finally opened a location in Fort Lauderdale. The chain is renowned for its incredibly juicy burgers, averaging $6-7, it also offers chicken breast, breaded portobello and split and grilled hot dogs. Equally popular are the decadent frozen custard creations. The Federal Highway location features an outdoor patio serving local brews from Wynwood Brewing Co., Due South Brewing Co. and Funky Buddha Brewery.
The business started from a kiosk cart in Madison Square Park in Manhattan created to raise funds for art installations, so the Shake Shack name is not just a clever marketing ploy. In keeping with the charitable beginnings, the Fort Lauderdale location is donating 5 percent of sales from its Pie Oh My custard “concrete” confection to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. Now you have a legitimate excuse to indulge in dessert.
Jack’s Old Fashion Hamburger House
4201 N. Federal, Fort Lauderdale
Not new, Jack’s is an oldie but a goodie. There really was a Jack and he pursued his dream of opening a “hamburger joint” and on 4th of July weekend in 1972 he opened the Fort Lauderdale landmark. Generations of families travel miles to enjoy the fresh-ground beef burgers served at the retro drive-in. Burgers are prepared just as they have been since the place opened, from beef ground fresh daily, and ranging in price from $4.50 for a quarter-pounder to $6.90 for a half-pound cheeseburger. Add-ons are all under a buck each. Other options include hot dogs, chili, a few sandwiches and salads. Milk shakes are old-fashioned hand-blended and thick.