FOOD & STYLE: Steak ‘N Shake

Steak ‘N Shake

1455 Third Street Promenade

Santa Monica, CA 90401

310-260-1516

steaknshake.com

Price: $

By Michael Aushenker | Contributing Writer

Two years ago, many Angelenos had never heard of Steak ‘N Shake … or perhaps had just the faintest notion of the long-running chain, best known for its signature “steakburgers,” a slightly more upscale twist on the traditional fast-food hamburger.

Manager Jon Price ports the Double ‘N Cheese Steakburger. Photo by Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer
Manager Jon Price ports the Double ‘N Cheese Steakburger.
Photo by Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer

Perhaps it’s time you heard of it. Straight out of the Midwest and founded 82 years ago in Normal, Ill., Steak ‘N Shake currently stands at 544 locations in 29 states, of which 417 are company-operated out of San Antonio, Texas.

Of late, the chain has made its presence known in California, including this Third Street Promenade location, which opened in late 2014.

Outwardly something akin to a Johnny Rockets, with its nigh-corny 1950s-style hamburger stand décor, the restaurant anchors the Promenade’s southeast corner at Broadway with a sprawling patio.

Last month, the Santa Monica outlet hosted a preview of incoming fall items, and while few in health-conscious California would ever admit to eating fast food, many of us do. And if you’re looking for certain specific items, Steak ‘N Shake does a good job of nailing the bull’s eye on each of its intended targets.

The juicy, satisfying Double Steakburger comes topped with a goopy blob of orange cheddar, accompanied by a batch of thin French fries.

Steak ‘N Shake’s new Double Steakburger, topped with melted orange cheddar, comes with a generous side of French fries. Photos by Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer
Steak ‘N Shake’s new Double Steakburger, topped with melted orange cheddar, comes with a generous side of French fries.
Photos by Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer

Will this order make a longtime Californian forget about the immortal In-N-Out Double-Double? Probably not.

However, Steak ‘N Shake does a good job of classing up the type of burger you might find at a Jack in the Box or Carl’s Jr., and it’s also not as forgettable as The Habit or as gratuitous as cross-mall rival Johnny Rockets.

The fries—small, thin, savory and (most importantly) not greasy—will also not leave you feeling bloated by meal’s end.

Certainly, this is one chain where there’s never been a shortage of options when it comes to milkshake flavors. This is the kind of joint where you might be laughed out of the establishment if you simply ordered a chocolate, strawberry or vanilla. That’s sheer lunacy when you can instead order Oreo Cookies ‘N Cream, Oreo Red Velvet, Nestle Butterfinger, Nutella, Salted Caramel
or Turtle Caramel Nut.

New milkshake flavors at Steak ‘N Shake include Pumpkin as well as Vanilla and Chocolate Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Photo by Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer
New milkshake flavors at Steak ‘N Shake include Pumpkin as well as Vanilla and Chocolate Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.
Photo by Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer

On this occasion, we sampled new arrivals Vanilla Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, Chocolate Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and (what would autumn be anymore without) Pumpkin? Each of these sweet confections comes topped with a nice dollop of whipped cream and a maraschino.

Our table favored Pumpkin. And, indeed, if it’s a pumpkin-flavored shake you seek, they have totally perfected it. But if you have a hankering for something peanutty, Chocolate Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup is definitely the way to go.

Nothing against the vanilla version—it’s tasty, too, and you’ll catch no one spitting it out—but the peanut butter flavor within the chocolate shake tastes more pronounced and, well, it’s chocolate!

Overall, a visit here is unpretentious, inexpensive fun: soft on the spending, solid on the burgers and sweet, rich shakes, with ample space indoors and prime Prom-gazing vantage points outside to make your experience that much more enjoyable.

It’s a nice place to be before or after your movie … and hey, if you don’t appreciate it, your teenagers certainly will.

Food reporters, bloggers and other assorted writer folk take in Steak ‘N Shake’s Aug. 18 media dinner. Photo by Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer
Food reporters, bloggers and other assorted writer folk take in Steak ‘N Shake’s Aug. 18 media dinner.
Photo by Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer