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Food & Drink

What’s on the menu at Shake Shack’s first Canadian outpost

The cheese sauce is flowing, the burgers are searing and the Bellwoods beer is custom brewed

By Kate Dingwall| Photography by Jelena Subotic
What’s on the menu at Shake Shack’s first Canadian outpost

Name: Shake Shack Contact: 10 Dundas St. E., shakeshack.ca
Neighbourhood: Yonge and Dundas Previously: A mega Adidas Accessibility: Fully accessible

It’s hard to imagine that Shake Shack, a global beacon for good burgers, started as a simple New York hot dog stand. Back in 2001, lauded restaurateur Danny Meyer began slinging hot dogs across the street from his restaurant, Eleven Madison Park. It was temporary—until fans decided it shouldn’t be.

Over the past twenty years, Shake Shack has evolved from a seasonal food stand to a fancy fast food juggernaut, with locations in Alabama, Bahrain, Texas and Tokyo. But, every time a new outpost opened, “the first comments on our social media were: When are you coming to Canada?” says Jim Frisch, Shake Shack’s culinary director.

Frisch and his team listened, and Canadians can now get their ShackBurger fix at a big brand-new Yonge and Dundas location. “It took a little bit of time—we wanted to get it right—but we’re finally here,” says Frisch.

What’s on the menu at Shake Shack’s first Canadian outpost
What’s on the menu at Shake Shack’s first Canadian outpost

While the chain is an American transplant, Canadian ingredients (many of them local) are peppered throughout the Toronto menu. Frisch and his team spent time in the city, wandering around, reading local food blogs and asking chefs about their favourite neighbourhood spots.

The butter tarts whipped into frozen custard? They’re sourced from Brodflour, an urban mill and bakery in Liberty Village. The chocolate chunks in the sweet treats? Those are from ChocoSol Traders, an ethical bean-to-bar chocolatier with locations on St. Clair and in the St. Lawrence Market. “A big part of our brand is partnering with local producers, whether that’s in New York or Toronto,” says Frisch. “We always want to be part of the community.”

What’s on the menu at Shake Shack’s first Canadian outpost

And the house beer? It’s from Bellwoods, naturally. “We spent a full day with them, tasting through everything,” says Frisch. “It was really fun—we love the way they approach business and branding, and we really vibed with the team. We were honoured to be able to replicate our ShackMeister ale in a way that still allowed them to flex their creative muscles and add their own character.”

As Shake Shack expands (they’re aiming for 35 locations in the city by 2030), they’re excited to weave in other local partners. “I’d love to start bringing in local chef collaborations or a great streetwear brand for a partnership,” says Frisch.

Here’s what all the fuss is all about.

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The space

The murals (outside and in) are designed by Toronto-based visual artist Briony Douglas, who weaves a Where’s Waldo? of Toronto hallmarks: Honest Ed’s signs, Maple Leafs jerseys and, of course, raccoons.

What’s on the menu at Shake Shack’s first Canadian outpost

What’s on the menu at Shake Shack’s first Canadian outpost

What’s on the menu at Shake Shack’s first Canadian outpost

What’s on the menu at Shake Shack’s first Canadian outpost

After you order, there’s plenty of space to hang out and enjoy one of those Bellwoods beers, from casual bar seating to an upstairs perch for people-watching.

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What’s on the menu at Shake Shack’s first Canadian outpost
What’s on the menu at Shake Shack’s first Canadian outpost
What’s on the menu at Shake Shack’s first Canadian outpost
What’s on the menu at Shake Shack’s first Canadian outpost

There are Canadian accents through the space—like these maple tables.

What’s on the menu at Shake Shack’s first Canadian outpost
What’s on the menu at Shake Shack’s first Canadian outpost
The food

Naysayers will ask: Does Toronto need another smash burger joint? Shake Shack’s whole shtick is translating fine dining into a more casual format. Its founder, Danny Meyer, has won 28 James Beard Awards (including outstanding restaurateur), so he’s supremely picky about ingredient sourcing—all meat is vegetarian-fed, the cheeses sauces actually contain cheese, and there’s none of that processed butter or frozen patty nonsense.

What’s on the menu at Shake Shack’s first Canadian outpost
The Shake Shack standard, the ShackBurger, gets a Canadian twist by sourcing meat from this side of the border. It’s all antibiotic-free Angus from Beretta, a rancher in King City, served fresh and never frozen. Stacked on top: American cheese, tomato, lettuce and Shake sauce—a combo of mustard, ketchup, mayo, pickle juice and hot sauce that adds a fatty-sweet-salty bite. $8.49

 

What’s on the menu at Shake Shack’s first Canadian outpost
The fried chicken sandwich—also antibiotic-free and with no added hormones—is marinated in buttermilk, black pepper and jalapeño, then hand-breaded and deep-fried. It sits on a bed of lettuce, pickles, and a buttermilk mayo spiked with fresh dill, fresh thyme and chives. $9.49

 

What’s on the menu at Shake Shack’s first Canadian outpost
The stadium wieners are “all beef, no filler,” says Frisch. They’re butterflied and grilled for caramelization that amplifies the beefy flavour. The dogs can be tricked out to your taste—add cheese sauce, sprinkle on applewood-smoked bacon or turn up the heat with cherry peppers. All sandwiches and hot dogs are served on fluffy potato buns toasted with real butter. $5.99

 

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What’s on the menu at Shake Shack’s first Canadian outpost
For the plant-forward crowd, no sad salads: here’s a stuffed portobello mushroom burger. It’s filled with two different types of cheese—muenster and cheddar—deep-fried before and topped with all the fixings. $10.99

 

What’s on the menu at Shake Shack’s first Canadian outpost
The fries are crinkle cut. That’s a personal choice but also a pragmatic one: “Crinkle cut fries have more surface area, which means they’re crispier and they hold sauce better,” says Frisch. The sauce isn’t your standard processed nacho sauce—it’s made with real cream, real milk and real cheese  and seasoned with onion and bay leaf. $4.49
What’s on the menu at Shake Shack’s first Canadian outpost
A Toronto exclusive: the maple salted pretzel shake. Vanilla custard is blended with salty pretzels and maple syrup, then topped with whipped cream and crushed pretzels. $7.29

 

What’s on the menu at Shake Shack’s first Canadian outpost
Concretes are fancy frozen custards spun with all-Canadian ingredients. The I Heart Butter Tart is vanilla frozen custard (made with Canadian dairy) blended with flaky salt and butter tarts sourced from Brodflour in Liberty Village. It’s also a Toronto exclusive

 

What’s on the menu at Shake Shack’s first Canadian outpost
The More S’Mores is a combo of vanilla and chocolate frozen custard, spun with fridge sauce and burnt marshmallow and topped with two graham crackers. It’s finished with some ChocoSol chocolate. “How they approach chocolate, how they source ingredients, who they partner with and how they build flavours and roasts—these guys go deep,” says Frisch. “It was really cool to learn about their craft and an honour to be able to have them on the menu.”
The drinks
What’s on the menu at Shake Shack’s first Canadian outpost
Fresh lemonade is made in house daily with lemon juice, cane sugar, water and lemon zest “to amp up the bitterness,” says Frisch. $3.99
What’s on the menu at Shake Shack’s first Canadian outpost
A Fifty/Fifty—much like an Arnold Palmer—is that same lemonade mixed with unsweetened brewed iced tea. In this case, that’s a custom-blended Pluck tea. $3.99

 

What’s on the menu at Shake Shack’s first Canadian outpost
For something a little stronger, try the adult Fifty/Fifty: half cab sauv and half cab franc from Rosewood Wines down on the Beamsville Bench. The Shack White, a crisp, bone-dry riesling, is also custom-made by Rosewood. “I’d never had Canadian wine before I got here, and it’s delicious,” says Frisch. Both are served in highly portable 8.4-ounce cans. $11.99
What’s on the menu at Shake Shack’s first Canadian outpost
The house beer is Bellwoods’ doing—a hazy ale brewed just for Shake Shack. $7.99

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