Tasty Burger vs Shake Shack taste test

Earlier last year, burgeoning Boston hamburger chain Tasty Burger opened a location in Cambridge’s Harvard Square. Tasty Burger has a pretty strong pedigree, coming from the same restaurant group as Franklin Cafe and Citizen Public House. Their burgers are tasty. Just this past weekend, NY burger titan Shake Shack continued their Northeast expansion by opening a location right across the Square from Tasty Burger. Within eyesight of each other, the two gourmet fast-food burger joints circle each other warily like two anthropomorphic cheeseburgerboxers (this doesn’t really happen, but imagine).

As soon as I heard Shake Shack was going into a space about 100 yards from Tasty Burger, I knew we’d have to do a taste test of some sort. Heavily inspired by this A Hamburger Today Shake Shack vs In-N-Out vs Five Guys bi-coastal taste test, we set up something similar pitting New York upstart Shake Shack against local favorite Tasty Burger. When I say “heavily inspired” I mean, we probably wouldn’t have done this without that post. I also mean I borrowed heavily from the format.

Please note: The “Boston vs New York” thing is always fraught with peril, ESPECIALLY the “Boston food vs New York food” debate. We are not getting into any of that here. For the sake of science, we put that aside and endeavored to decide impartially, once and for all, which was a better burger: Tasty Burger or Shake Shack.

The Judges
Imitable illustrator, Chris Piascik
Roxy’s Grilled Cheese and Burger owner, James DiSabatino
Flour baker, Keith Brooks
Super friend, Holly Hutchenson

Tasty burger vs shake shack taste test

The Method
At 12:03 PM on Tuesday, January 7th 2014, Keith entered and Tasty Burger Harvard Square to pick up 4 regular cheeseburgers, 1 cheeseburger without sauce (Chris doesn’t like white foods like mayo) (I know), and one veggie burger. James entered Shake Shack at 12:05 PM and ordered the same thing. The burgers were then brought to my house in an insulated bag and eaten at 1PM. We used Mexican Coke as a palate cleanser, as you do, even if it isn’t really better. There were 6 criteria for rating each burger: The Bun, The Cheese, The Toppings, The Sauce, The Value, and the Meat. In this instance, we didn’t weight any of the criteria higher than others. There were also two unweighted criteria: Time to Burger, and 8-month old acceptance. These criteria were recorded, but did not factor in final judgement. In a draw, taste testers were able to award points to both burgers. To be perfectly scientific, we should have eaten the burgers 5 minutes apart to account for Shake Shack’s burgers coming off the grill 5 minutes later, but this is cheeseburger science and a fast food burger shouldn’t deteriorate if left for 5 extra minutes.

Criteria Shake Shack Tasty Burger
Size: 1/4 pound patty 1/3 pound patty
How cooked: Flat top Grill
Bun: Potato Bun Sesame Bun
Cheese: American Cheddar American Blend
Toppings: Lettuce, tomato* Lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions
Sauce: Thousand Island** Ketchup, mayo
Value: $4.85 for a cheeseburger. $1.21 per ounce. $5.25 for a cheeseburger. $.98 per ounce.
Meat: “100% all-natural Angus beef, vegetarian fed, humanely raised and source verified. No hormones or antibiotics – EVER.” “All natural, Certified Humane®, and NEVER given any growth hormones or antibiotics. The steer are grass fed and finished on a 100% vegetarian grass and grain diet.”

*The AHT review above mentions onions and pickles. Our burgers did not have.
**The AHT review above mentions ketchup and mayo. Our burgers did not have.

Reminder, a draw results in a point awarded to both burgers. And sauce only has 4 votes because Chris doesn’t like sauce. (I don’t know either.)

Shake shack vs tasty burger taste test

The Bun
Score: 4-1 Tasty Burger
Comments on the Tasty Burger bun:
“Love the sesame seeds on Tasty Burger’s bun.” “It’s got a moist, springy texture.” “Very sturdy.” “Too big.” “If I was just eating the two buns on their own, I would like the Tasty Burger bun better.”

Comments on the Shake Shack bun
“Perfect burger to bun ratio. It allowed meat to really shine.” “I love potato rolls, but the Tasty bun worked better.” “I liked the Tasty Burger bun better for the first two bites, and Shake Shack better for last two bites. It soaks up the juices”

The Cheese
Score: 4-4 Tied
Comments on the Tasty Burger cheese
“Tangy. Nice tangy flavor.”

Comments on the Shake Shack cheese
“A little more subtle. Not a big American Cheese fan.” “Hard to taste anything, it’s completely melted into the burger.”

The Toppings
Score: 5-4 Shake Shack
Comments on the Tasty Burger toppings
“The way the burger is wrapped to go doesn’t give the lettuce much chance to stay strong.” “The pickles and onions were a nice touch.”

Comments on the Shake Shack toppings
“Is this supposed to have pickles and onions?”

The Sauce
Score 3-1 Tasty Burger
Comments on the Tasty Burger sauce
“Ketchup and mayo, not mixed.” “Classic.” “Reminded me of backyard burger.”

Comments on the Shake Shack sauce
“By itself it tasted good.” “Pretty good on first bite around the edges. Not as good in the middle of the burger when it’s concentrated and you get a mouthful.” “Is this supposed to have ketchup and mayo?”

The Value
Score: 5-0 Tasty Burger
Comments on the Tasty Burger value
“Pretty even. Both will satisfy. Just price per pound edge goes to Tasty Burger. Tasty Burger is 100% Certified Humane beef. Shake Shack uses 100% no antibiotics no hormones.” “More expensive meat, probably. Bigger sandwich. No contest” “Substantial.”

Comments on the Shake Shack value
“You wouldn’t feel cheated at Shake Shack, it’s just Tasty Burger is a bigger sandwich.”

The Meat
Score 4-1 Shake Shack
Comments on the Tasty Burger meat
“I like the seasoning, grill taste, and the texture.”

Comments on the Shake Shack meat
“Seasoned much better.” “A lot more flavor.” “Tons of beef flavor.” “The first bite was spongy, not in a good way.”

Unweighted criteria
Response by an 8 month old to burger meat washed of any sauce: While it appeared the Tasty Burger burger was enjoyed with the Shake Shack burger being spit out immediately, the piece of Tasty Burger burger was found on the floor some time later. This is a draw and I will have to teach my daughter to honor my food preferences.
Veggie Burger: Shake Shack’s is two portabello mushrooms fried with cheese in the middle. The Tasty Burger veggie burger is a formed patty that is pleasantly spicy. If you want something that tastes like it might be bad for you, go with Shake Shack, if you want a healthier option, go with Tasty Burger. They were both palatable. This is a draw.
Speed of Service: Tasty Burger took 8 minutes to produce the order, Shake Shack took 10 minutes. Tasty Burger is the clear winner if 2 minutes is important to you.

The Results
If we’re just counting the scores on the different criteria above, Tasty Burger won 3-2 with one draw. If you add up all the votes, it’s 21-15 Tasty Burger. And for overall burger, judges picked Tasty Burger 4-1. While it’s clear from these results Tasty Burger makes a superior burger, everyone was supremely satisfied by the Shake Shack burger. It was not my intention with this taste test to equivocate. I wanted to find a clear winner, which in Tasty Burger, we seem to have done. Before tasting the burgers, I asked all the judges to think about who they expected and/or wanted to win. 4 judges to 1 thought Shake Shack was going to win “because of all the hype.” If there was any bias, it was in their favor. Without exception, all the judges agreed Tasty Burger and Shake Shack make a terrific fast food burger.

Tasty Burger’s use of Certified Humane® is something to applaud. I advised the judges to not include this fact in their voting in either The Value category or The Meat category. Tasty Burger won The Value vote anyway based on the size to price ratio of the burger, and would have won The Meat category if this factor was considered. All the judges agreed the Certified Humane® label was a reason on its own to choose Tasty Burger.

This cheeseburger taste test was a great afternoon, and all of the judges encourage you to perform your own. In the future some changes to the method might include blind tasting, and judges who haven’t previously tried either burger, along with judges from New York.

These final comments do a good job illustrating how close the burgers were in taste and quality:
“Shake Shack isn’t just serving meat, they’re serving a complete burger, and when judging the total package, Tasty Burger is just better.” “From now on, I’m going to go to Harvard Square and get both.” “I’m still going to eat both burgers constantly and switch it up, but if somebody could only go to one place and asked me which, I’d say Tasty Burger.” “There’s a better chance of coming away fully satisfied at Tasty Burger.” “Once I found out the information of the humane beef at Tasty Burger, it would sway my decision to Tasty Burger because of how close the burger experience was between the two of them and how geographically close they are. However, where I live, Five Guys is closer, and is a superior burger to both of them.”

Tasty Burger vs Shake Shack taste test

Boston’s worst slumlord

Chris did some art for the Boston Magazine profile of Boston’s worst slumlord. The art’s pretty and it actually is an interesting article, too. The guy just does not seem to give a shit about anything except making money.

Over the years, Faisal’s audacious disregard for the agency has become legendary. In 2010, WBZ aired a report concerning a whopping 73 complaints that had been filed against him and his company over an 18-month period. In September 2012, the Boston Globe reported on a basement studio apartment that Alpha had rented to a Northeastern University student at 115 St. Stephens Street. “[C]ity inspectors found evidence of roaches, grime-caked walls and ceilings, exposed wires, and rusty pipes,” the Globe reported. The room had “no windows or other source of ventilation, no working carbon monoxide detector, and no emergency lighting.” In fact, Faisal didn’t even have a permit to use the space for housing—and yet, even when inspectors condemned the apartment, and the tenant’s Realtor returned the finder’s fee, Faisal initially refused to return the requisite first and last month’s rent plus a security deposit totaling $3,670. “We’ve had a problem with Anwar Faisal and his company’s noncompliance with our rental ordinance,” Dion Irish, the former housing inspection commissioner, told the paper. “This is probably one of the worst cases, but the issues we’ve had with him have been systematic.”

Boston’s worst slumlord

How Reddit and Twitter got it wrong and made life worse for a missing kid’s family

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A missing Brown student was unfortunately smeared last night in the confusion/excitement/torrent of news flowing on Twitter. At about 2:45 AM this Tweet (deleted in the last 30 minutes, or so) started getting RT’d by people I follow and it moved very quickly from there up to media members RT’ing it as well. The person who posted it said they were sharing a Reddit transcript of the Boston Police scanner broadcast. The Reddit back patting from both Reddit users and new-media members came quickly because Reddit had at some point earlier speculated on the connection to the bombers and the missing Brown student. Much criticism had been heaped on their efforts to identify bombers all week, so it’d be understandable for them to want to gloat.

Except they got it wrong. I was listening to the scanner when they mentioned the first guy’s name on the BPD scanner, and did not hear the second name on the scanner at all. It wasn’t said. 50K other people were listening to the scanner at the time, so maybe others can corroborate this. And it turns out the guy mentioned as suspect #1 didn’t have anything to do with the bombing and was probably related to another issue BPD was dealing with last night. The guy listed as suspect #2 in the above Tweet is the missing Brown student, and as we know now, was not considered a suspect.

Last night was the first time I’ve heard of a police scanner driving the “facts’ of a major news story for several hours, and if you listened, you now know why. There were several announcements made over the scanner that turned out to be part of the understandable confusion of a massive police chase. I went to sleep right after hearing about officers being directed to a specific area for a supposed foot chase between Newton police officers and the suspect. One of the last messages I heard broadcast was, “Uh, just talked to Newton police. There was no foot chase.”

Some other thoughts:
-General term “Reddit users” tossed around a couple times in this post which obviously lumps them all together. Too tired from staying up most of the night to write more artfully, but I know there’s no way to describe all Reddit users as one.
-Not sure whether the scanner transcript on Reddit mentioned the missing student or if the Tweeter above just added it in to a Tweet.
-I’m not usually a fan of Tweets being deleted, but the Tweeter above did the right thing by deleting his Tweet. Before it got deleted, I noticed the RT number going down, so people were obviously trying to disassociate themselves from this message.

How Reddit and Twitter got it wrong and made life worse for a missing kid’s family

I don’t know

I don’t know what to say about today. Earlier I was raw. I couldn’t watch the news without tears welling and I don’t know when I got so emotional because this stuff didn’t used to impact me so deeply. This stuff. This stuff happened about 3 miles from where we live, around the corner from where my wife used to work, and around the corner from where she works now. It’s a block I’ve walked down, driven down, rode my bike down countless times. I don’t think that has anything to do with it. I grew up in a town along the Marathon route and can’t remember ever not going to cheer the runners on. I was just wondering this morning if we’d bring our baby (who will more than likely be born in the next few days) to watch the race. I don’t know if that has anything to do with it either, though it must. The baby is to be born at a hospital that was closed for several hours after the bombing because of either persons of interest or threats or both.

Did you see how quickly people ran towards the explosion on the video they keep playing over and over. The bomb explodes, there’s a beat when people look around stunned, and then almost instantly, they’re tearing at the fence to get to the injured. Later, over a thousand Bostonians signed up in a few hours to open their homes to out of town runners. Seeing that did help me process a little bit. One person or a group of people left the bombs at the Marathon, but so many more people were ready to help. So many more reached out with compassion to people they didn’t know. I hope that’s what I remember most about today. I know that at least.

I don’t know

Sav-Mor Liquor signs

Sav-Mor Liquors in Somerville and Medford have signs that are all over the Internet all the time. The Somerville Journal recently caught up with Robbie Weiner, the fella who comes up with all the signs.

For close to four years, Weiner has been the mastermind behind the signs at Sav-Mor’s Somerville and Medford locations, and there are no signs of him stopping the creativity now. The signs have done a lot more for the company than their previous marquees for wine tastings.

Come see our world famous sign. #savmor
Photo: Scott Williams – Come see our world famous sign.

Sav-Mor Liquor signs

Why parking in Boston sucks

I’d heard this fact before about why parking in Boston is such a pain, but always meant to post it. Maybe I have. I can’t remember. Basically, the number of parking spaces in Boston has been frozen at 35,556 since 1978. I’m not really sure how this works in the context of new buildings building their own underground lots, but I don’t think that means they close parking lots in other parts of the city. One of the most striking things about this fact is there’s no way a law like this would get passed in this political…climate. Can you imagine how the GOP would respond to this? I’m not going to blame this all on them, though because the Democrats would never suggest such a move.

In 1978 the city froze the number of off-street spaces—garages, private lots, and the like—at 35,556 in the North End, Financial District, Chinatown, Back Bay, and South End neighborhoods. (Southie and Eastie had their own parking freezes later on.) Why? Because we needed to reduce air pollution to comply with the Clean Air Act. Limiting the availability of garage parking was seen as an effective way to control the number of pollution-spewing cars that were traveling into the city. Not a bad strategy, but, predictably, with supply limited and no new competition, the owners of the city’s garages have spent the past 30 years jacking up their prices.

Why parking in Boston sucks

Impolitic: Propaganda for Non-Politicians – Next Super Precious art show

Here’s some information about the next Super Precious Art Gallery group art show. Super Precious is one of the projects I started earlier in the year, and the shows have been getting better and better. If you like art, it’d be awesome if you’d sign up on the mailing list.


Into the highly charged political arena of this election season, Super Precious Art Gallery wades with an irreverent look at Propaganda for Non-Politicians. The show features over 20 pieces from 18 local and national artists advocating for everything from boats to coffee to Q*bert. Join us on Sunday, November 4th at Bloc 11 Cafe in Union Square, Somerville for an opening reception of the show with artists on hand and prints available.

The show will hang at Bloc 11 from 10/31-11/13. More information available at http://superprecio.us/ Peep the awesome poster by Josh LaFayette below.

Please RSVP and invite your friends to the opening here.

SP Impolitico PP Bounce 800px

Impolitic: Propaganda for Non-Politicians – Next Super Precious art show

Immediate economic impact of Hurricane Sandy – Market Basket edition

I’ve got a long history of fawning over Market Basket, the grocery store around the corner from my house. It’s cheap, constantly crowded, and features a parking lot way too small for the number of people who want to go. There is always a police detail on site, and for the week around holidays, there are TWO police details on site. The floors are constantly sawdusted from wet breakage. The chaos in the aisles and check out area on the day before Thanksgiving and the days before Christmas is my spirit animal.

Market Basket is the perfect place to check out maniacal storm preparation, but today the road leading into the parking lot was shut for a street fair. The parking lot was more than half empty, and I’ve never seen the store so calm or quiet. Market Basket probably would done tremendous sales today, instead they probably won’t even make their average.

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Immediate economic impact of Hurricane Sandy – Market Basket edition

BLT Battle at Sea Karaoke Harbor Cruise

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The BLT Battle at Sea is my next food event in Boston. It’s a 3 hour cruise around Boston Harbor with BLTs from 4 awesome Boston restaurants and food trucks (Trina’s Starlite Lounge, Chez Henri, Roxy’s Grilled Cheese, and Staff Meal), beer from Smuttynose and Clown Shoes. Saint Germain will also be on board making a Sunday Funday beer cocktail with Smuttynose called the Star Island Shandy.

Because no harbor cruise is complete without karaoke, there will also be karaoke. You can get tickets here. PS Check out the awesome BLT Battle art by Josh LaFayette.

BLT Battle at Sea Karaoke Harbor Cruise