Baltimore is a fantastic city for food. We have lots of bougie restaurants and exciting bars, but now we have both a Chick-fil-A and a Shake Shack in the Inner Harbor. And they’re next to each other. Like our public benches proclaim, we most definitely are the Greatest City in America.
Choosing what to order at these two fast food institutions is not easy, so I assembled a team of experts (read: a couple hungry Hopkins students) to determine once and for all how to handle Chick-fil-A and Shake Shack side-by-side.
Signature Items (Chicken Nuggets vs. ShackBurger)
Winner: Depends on what you’re craving
As one would expect, Chick-fil-A really knows how to make chicken and Shake Shack makes a mighty fine burger. This is like comparing apples and oranges.
Chick-fil-A’s nuggets have the perfect amount of breading – substantial enough to remain intact even when covered in sauce but light enough that the chicken takes center stage.
Shake Shack’s ShackBurgers stand out among the fast food pack with the addition of their surprisingly sweet and creamy signature ShackSauce. We also found that Shake Shack’s buns were sweeter than the average hamburger bun, but it paired very well with the cheese and Shack Sauce.
To mix things up, try putting Chick-fil-A sauce on your ShackBurger or order ShackSauce on the side for dipping your nuggets. If you’re really adventurous and gluttonous, order a ShackBurger and a Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich and stack that meat. (Don’t worry, Mom. I would never try this.)
Winner: Shake Shack
Although I have to commend Chick-fil-A for offering up a significantly cheaper and larger product (we ordered small shakes from both restaurants), Shake Shack was the obvious winner because they use real ingredients.
According to Shake Shack’s menu, the Vanilla and Chocolate shakes are made with real sugar, hormone-free milk and no corn syrup. The chocolate flavor was subtle and it tasted malty even though we didn’t order a malted shake for $0.50 extra. Chick-fil-A’s shake wasn’t bad, but it tasted like every other artificial fast food shake.
Winner: Shake Shack
Chick-fil-A never really had a shot at this category considering their only real vegetarian options are salad, fries and dessert. However, Shake Shack exceeds all expectations by offering up the ‘Shroom Burger, a portobello mushroom fried with gooey muenster and cheddar cheese topped with ShackSauce.
It is so damn good that my mushroom-hating, self-described “meatatarian” friend said she would consider ordering it instead of a regular burger. Next time and every other time I head down to the Inner Harbor, I will be getting a ‘Shroom Burger.
Even among fries, Shake Shack’s crinkle-cut fries and Chick-fil-A’s waffle fries could not be more different. Shake Shack’s fries were crispy and very lightly seasoned. We could tell they had been salted, but it wasn’t overwhelming. Chick-fil-A’s fries were much saltier but had a very different consistency. They are excellent waffle fries.
If you really need me to pick one over the other, I’ll say Chick-fil-A just because they’re cheaper, but you really should just get a small size of both and top them with the Old Bay that Shake Shack kindly provides.
First off, this was a stupid idea. If you really want to eat a healthier fast-food meal that doesn’t make you feel empty inside, try another fast food restaurant. But because we all have that friend who just can’t bear to cheat on her diet, I had to give it a shot.
Chick-fil-A offers up some pretty tasty grilled chicken nuggets. This is a valiant effort at a real healthy option, but I still wished I was eating regular nuggets instead. If you’re avoiding carbs, Shake Shack will give you any burger without a bun if you ask – there were guys sitting behind us eating ShackBurgers using matzah as a bun. I don’t think that’s kosher, but I admire their dedication.
If you love Chick-fil-A and/or Shake Shack, check out these articles: