Native son Danny Meyer brought it all home to St. Louis this week, and we are all about the Mound City Burger.
From the very start, Danny Meyer has made it perfectly clear, to anyone who was listening—his burger and frozen custard joint, which began as a seasonal pop-up in New York's Madison Square Park, going on to become one of the most adored fast-casual concepts since people started saying things like fast-casual, might have a fancy pedigree, but at heart, Shake Shack was all St. Louis.
For roughly fifteen years now, St. Louis has watched as new Shacks are rolled out, all over the world, everywhere from Tokyo to London to Moscow, each time smiling politely as they're thanked, one more time, for being the wind beneath Shake Shack's wings.
But just how St. Louis is Shake Shack, really? We'll find out, soon enough—the first location in Missouri opened in the city's Central West End neighborhood on Monday; a ribbon-cutting ceremony presided over by none other than Meyer, alongside St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, was the cherry on top of a weekend's worth of partying that included a friends and family event attended by nearly 1,000 people, and at least one Budweiser Clydesdale, because St. Louis.
"I get one crack at coming home, and we have to nail this," Meyer said in an interview with Riverfront Times, the local alt-weekly. "I can't imagine if we didn't bring our absolute best to town."
That begins, of course, with regional customizations to the Shake Shack menu; these are par for the course no matter which Shake Shack you're visiting, but here, the local nods take on a special poignance.
For starters, there's the Mound City Burger, a double bacon extravaganza with a special secret sauce and Provel, that famous processed cheese blend of cheddar, Swiss and provolone that's a St. Louis legend, and definitely something of an acquired taste. The Central West Blend concrete uses a local supplier of gooey butter cake, that other, self-explanatory (and very delicious) St. Louis specialty; a Chocolate Chip Cookie concrete not only calls on local gourmet market/restaurant Winslow's Home for one of their—you guessed it—chocolate chip cookies, but also Missouri's own Askinosie Chocolate, which supplies dark chocolate chunks. Want to drink local? There's Fitz's Root Beer on draft.
Fitz's is named repeatedly as one of Meyer's inspirations—not only do they bottle root beer, they also have a restaurant, a very popular restaurant, known for their (you guessed it!) burgers, fries and shakes. Another one is Ted Drewes, an iconic frozen custard stand known for its concretes; they've been serving up the sweet stuff for the better part of a century, with no signs of slowing.
While Meyer spent a good deal of time sharing his memories of St. Louis past with the local media over the weekend, he also shared his preferred itinerary for visitors looking to taste the best the city has to offer—Winslow's Home for coffee and pastries, a walk through the historic Soulard Market, a trip to The Hill, the city's historic Little Italy, for some toasted ravioli at Mama Toscano's, then BLT's and malts at Crown Candy Kitchen. But you're not done yet—there's Bissinger's, a local chocolatier, where Meyer recommends the molasses lollipops, Pappy's or Bogart's for ribs, and then Pastaria, Chef Gerard Craft's (Food & Wine Best New Chef in 2008, btw) terrific pizza and pasta spot out in Clayton, for dinner. (But wait, there's so much more—get the complete guide here.)