Looking down at the perfectly round sesame bun, the melty cheese shining in the light, I couldn’t help but wonder how on earth they manage to put out restaurant quality at a fast food place.
Initially, reviewing the menu beforehand, I felt great concern. Shake N Go’s menu is extensive, everything from deli sandwiches to burgers and fries. There are wraps and salads, chicken nuggets — even milkshakes.
And while most would consider that to be a good thing (and in this case it most certainly is), it tends to be a red flag for anyone in the culinary world. Traditionally, the smaller the menu, the higher the quality. The more a place stretches itself thin, the worse it does.
The concern only grew once I parked out front. Shake N Go is tucked away with little visibility from the main road, right next to a 7-11.
The unsavory odds continued to mount when I walked inside.It was deserted at 5 p.m. on a Thursday. Surely, it was due to a poor location? Perhaps their rush was later in the evening?
Determined to make the best of it, I strategically ordered what I figured would be the best food to conduct my review: a bacon cheeseburger with fries and chicken nuggets.
First, it’s difficult to cook bacon properly: crispy, not overly greasy, capable of withstanding the heat and steam from the burger patty. Second, it’s hard to compete with the likes of big fast-food chains, but Shake N Go has been in business since 2013. The family-owned business had to be doing something to stay relevant, and that meant putting out exceptional nuggets and fries.
For the next 10 minutes, I sat alone at a small round table and watched Frozen Planet reruns as I waited. The restaurant was clean, organized, welcoming. The menu wall, of sorts, was neat, with handwritten chalkboard announcements.
I was taking it all in when the food arrived, looking so perfect it might as well have been an artist’s drawing.
The burger was ⅓ lb. of chuck, with melted cheddar and unbelievably crisp bacon on a fluffy sesame bun. It was juicy, perfectly cooked and topped with a sort of special house sauce with a slightly sweetened tangy flavor. Halfway through, it had the perfect amount of messiness to it, where things slide around only slightly, without falling apart.
The fries were cut traditionally, not too thick, not too thin, and yet somehow supersized when compared to most fast food places. Golden and crunchy on the outside, fluffy and steamy on the inside, the only issue I had was requiring the tiniest bit more salt.
The ketchup pulled through, however, and so I moved on to the nuggets, which looked like the ones we all must have grown up eating, only slightly larger and somehow more flavorful. Fried golden to perfection, they were the perfect rendition of what nuggets should always be, but often aren’t.
Once I finished with my meal, I thanked the nice woman at the counter, surely one of the owners, and walked out with my heart aching a little. On one hand, I’d just eaten too much and that had something to do with it, but on the other hand… I knew going back to the big chains just didn’t seem right.
For the same price range, I could now get a bigger, higher-quality, more satisfying meal than just about anywhere else I’d ever been.
How could I live knowing full well that a place with little online presence and a concerning location was putting out nothing short of perfection?
Well, there’s good news:
Shake N Go rises above the odds on all fronts. With locations in Lynnwood, Shoreline, Woodinville, and Everett, they’re doing just fine. In fact, they’re beloved by locals, rated high on sites like Yelp, and considered iconic for their fish and chips.
As it turns out, when you put out quality, you don’t need to concern yourself with things like social media. Even in 2019, Washington takes pride in its small mom and pop shops, making it the optimal environment for organic growth through word of mouth.
Just make sure that you give yourself a few minutes of extra time browsing the menu before arriving. It’s massive but entirely delicious.
Shake N Go
3625 148th St. S.W.
Open Monday-Saturday 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
— By Jennifer Mendez