Taylor’s Automatic Refresher vs. Shake Shack

A brief side by side comparison of New York and San Francisco’s top contenders for best open air burger joint.

1) Burgers: Shake Shack
Avoid the secret sauce. The meat at both places is too well cooked to need the moisture enhancement and too richly flavored to need the coverup. Taylor’s Automatic Refresher’s version has a great charred taste; Shake Shack’s has a rich poolside grill flavor.

After much ruminating and a few return visits, I have to give the nod to the Shack for meat flavor. Their mix of meat cuts is simply the most delicious I’ve encountered—great at any doneness from still-breathing to medium. Shake Shack also wins on the all important bun to burger to cheese ratio. The balance makes the whole far more than the sum of the parts, and with this kind of beef and potato bun, the parts are pretty great.

2) Shakes: Shake Shack
The name sets the bar pretty high, but it’s not the shakes that win the day; it’s the concretes. Taylor’s Automatic Refresher does a great vanilla shake with Double Rainbow ice cream, even if mine was melted on the first order of the day. It just can’t compare to frozen custard concretes, particularly the Wednesday peach offering that has me lining up right around a rational person’s brunch time.

3) Fries: Taylor’s Automatic Refresher
Garlic and parsley ries were unbelievably garlicky in a zippy and refreshing way. I wouldn’t have minded them a few degrees warmer, but they top Shake Shack’s crinkle cuts any day. Gilroy is the promised land of the stinking rose.

4) Wine and beer list: Taylor’s Automatic Refresher
The list is long, gently priced and burger friendly. Shake Shack’s list is also good, but they don’t have anywhere near as many half bottles and they can’t do real wine glasses in a park. Their draft selection is also limited. Taylor brings elegance and variety to the booze and burger experience with lovely glassware, additional indoor seating and no mosquitoes.

5) Location: Tie
Taylor’s Automatic Refresher at San Francisco’s Ferry Building Marketplace has a great city view and even better water and bridge views if you take it to go. That said, I love gazing at the Flatiron building from Shake Shack in New York’s Madison Park, and it’s nice to picnic under real trees (or metal ones this summer).

Conclusion: Shake Shack Wins
In this West Coast/East Coast rivalry, both contenders have their virtues, but the Shake Shack takes the tourney by a hair, or rather, by a beautiful rich lush perfect patty of brisket enriched beef perfection. In the end, it all comes down to what’s between the buns.

Coming soon: Swan Oyster Depot vs. Pearl Oyster Bar


4 Responses to “Taylor’s Automatic Refresher vs. Shake Shack”

  1. Food Fan Says:

    Taylor’s also has a few tasty California style items on the menu, including Baja fish tacos.

  2. Adam K. Says:

    Agreed that Shake Shack wins overall. Almost any fries would better than the Shack’s. The burgers, though, at least the one time I visited Taylor’s, well, there was no comparison. I thought Taylor’s tasted like a slightly better version of the Whopper. Made with better ingredients, to be sure, but still fairly generic and nothing to write home about.

    The location and design of the place—at least Ferry Market one—are so nice.

  3. Food Fan Says:

    Wise words from the Sage of Salisbury.

  4. A Full Half-Day at San Francisco’s Ferry Building Marketplace « Fat and Happy Food Slut Says:

    […] Taylor Automatic Refresher: Grab a burger, fries and shake and sit at the counter. You’ll get enough views in later. No need […]

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