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» Steak ‘n Shake: Guacamole Steakburger
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Steak ‘n Shake: Guacamole Steakburger

By • Jan 3rd, 2010 • Category: Burger Blog

Steak ‘n Shake was the first place my parents ever took me for cheeseburgers.  I was 5 or 6, living in Indianapolis.  I remember the brightly-lit diner-style restaurant.  I remember them being open late (which, for me, probably meant past 8pm), so we could all go out after Dad got off work.  I remember the collectible toy truck I got after one visit.  (If only I had known eBay was coming…)  And I remember watching them make my food.

Legend holds that when founder Gus Belt rolled in a barrel of steaks (sirloin, round, and T-bones) and then ground the meat in front of his customers in 1934, he gave birth to their slogan, “In Sight, It Must Be Right.”  To this day, there’s a neon sign in every one of their 500-ish locations in 21 states that proclaims, “Famous for Steakburgers.”

I don’t make it to Steak ‘n Shake much anymore.  But when Christmas break rolled around for my first-grader, I thought it was time to introduce her and re-acquaint myself.

We grabbed stools at the counter so she could keep an eye on the line cook.  She enjoyed watching him load up the griddle with hockey-puck discs of meat, 12 at once, then press them thin as they cook.  (Funny how some newfangled gourmet chains are just now latching onto the “smashing” technique.)

Sydney got a trio of miniature Steakburger Shooters, 2 with ketchup and mustard, one with A-1.  (They also offer Ketchup ‘n Onion, BBQ, Chipotle, Buffalo, and Frisco-style slyders.)

I, however, was faced with a dilemma.  On the rare occasion I’ve been to a Steak ‘n Shake in recent years, I’ve opted for one of their melts.  Go ahead, connoisseurs, roll your eyes.  According to many, the patty melt is NOT a true cheeseburger and has no place in a serious cheeseburger conversation.  But sliding a cooked beef patty and melted cheese between fried toast instead of a bun doesn’t bother me.  In fact, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by a few. But on this day, sitting at the bar, I spied one of those flip-card menu thingies with this staring back at me:

Interesting.  Guacamole is a recently-acquired taste for me, so I ordered one up.

Looks nice sitting on the plate, huh?  Red onion, lettuce, pepperjack cheese, and chipotle sauce, with oozy guac dripping down the edges, and a nice side of those cool matchstick fries.  A mini-crock of baked beans and a milkshake rounded things out.  But look again.  Imagine picking that baby up and diving in teeth-first.  Doesn’t that bun seem absurdly huge?

Sadly, it tasted that way, too.  Eight months of writing for this site has produced a few surprises.  One of them is this: I now believe that perhaps the most critically-important component of the cheeseburger is the bun.  (Or toast.  Or roll.  Hell, or donut.)  A so-so burger can be elevated by a kick-ass bun.  But the wrong bun can absolutely ruin a perfectly good burger.  And I felt like that’s what I had on my hands at Steak ‘n Shake: too much bun.

I love the nostalgia and retro-diner feel.  I love the in-sight kitchen and the insistence on calling them “steakburgers.”  I love that a lot of them are open 24/7.  I love the matchstick fries and the little crocks of baked beans and the tall milkshakes.  I love what my little girl said as we watched the line cook: “Wow, that would be the best job ever!  If you messed up, you could just eat the burger.”

Good point, kiddo.  But I’d put mine between a few slices of toast.

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2 Responses to “Steak ‘n Shake: Guacamole Steakburger”

  1. 1
    mary kay Says:

    Oh you are so wrong we were in Kansas City yesterday for a doctors apt. and My 16 year old grand daughter wanted to go to Steak n Shake we both ordered this Burger and loved it so much we cant wait to go back in January. Our bun was no where near that big, about half that size. Like you I like the toasted bread but the bun was great flavored. I will order this every time i get to go there. We dont have Steak n Shakes in our end of the state.

  2. 2
    Charlie Says:

    Why make a choice – you can order the guacamole burger (and any of their burgers) on toast rather than the burger roll. Give it another try!

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