In Chicago, a good burger joint isn’t hard to find. The challenge is deciding which you’re in the mood for. Wonder no more: Shake Shack has just opened in River North. The cult fave will have you flipping for its famed burgers, “flat-top” dogs and crinkle-cut fries. But those are just the teaser to the real draws for kids — custard cups, cones, shakes and “concretes.”

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photo: Sean P. Murphy on Instagram

What It’s All About
Shake Shack started as a hot dog cart in Manhattan’s Madison Square Park in 2001. People loved it, lines formed and the word spread — fast. It expanded into a permanent location and set up shop across the U.S. and even abroad in Moscow, London and beyond. Finally it’s making a home in our fair city and won’t disappoint families looking for a relaxed, fast place to grab a bite. (We’ve been eagerly waiting, Shake Shack!)

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photo: Shake Shack on Instagram

This spot doesn’t try to be anything but an honest burger shop, with friendly service and dang good burgers made from 100% natural Angus beef. Its rustic feel means anyone will feel at home, including squirmy toddlers, big kids and adults alike. The interior walls are outfitted with reclaimed local brown barn board, with tabletops made from repurposed bowling alley lanes. Also, there’s an outdoor patio with seating for 16, open on warm days.

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photo: Shake Shack on Instagram

The Grub
There’s no separate kids’ menu, but littles can share with parents or tackle their own. The menu is focused on burgers, hot dogs, frozen custard and shakes. For a little local flavor, try the Shack-cago Dog, a Shake Shack spin on a Chicago classic; it’s all-natural Vienna beef topped with Rick’s Picks Shack relish, onion, cucumber, pickle, tomato, sport peppers, celery salt and mustard, served on a Martin’s Potato Roll hot dog bun. And don’t forget the off-menu delight: grilled cheese sandwiches. Just ask, and they’ll melt one for you or your small fry.

As for those desserts — try a concrete with “mix-ins” like chocolate truffle cookie dough and marshmallow sauce. Local bakers and chocolatiers have a stake in things, too:  The Shack Attack is chocolate custard, fudge sauce, chocolate truffle cookie dough and Vosges black salt caramel chocolate, topped with chocolate sprinkles; while Da S’mores is vanilla and chocolate custard with a slice of Bang Bang Pie s’mores pie.

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photo: Evan Sung

Cool Extras
Shake Shack frequently surprises kids with birthday custard and fun giveaways. And, in the spirit of Chicago’s vibrant public art collection, it displays two life-size sliding puzzles illustrated by artist Noah MacMillan, creator of the Chicago Loop District’s “Float” mural. One of them depicts Millennium Park’s “Bean” sculpture, while the other features a design of the Chicago Theatre. It gives you a bit of alluring eye candy, while you have a burger binge.

Shake Shack
Open daily, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
66 E. Ohio St.
River North
312-667-1707
Online: shakeshack.com

What’s your favorite burger joint in Chicago? Let us know in the Comments!

— Kelly Aiglon