SANTA FE, N.M. — Sometimes, you just want a good burger. Nothing fancy, nothing in French. Nothing with quinoa or shaved Brussels sprouts.
When the mood does hit you, there’s now another option. You can truck on over to Santa Fe’s new Shake Foundation.
Open since January, this addition to the burger scene keeps it simple. Their catch phrase is: “Dedicated to the Preservation of the Original Green Chile Cheeseburger.” From my perspective, the green chile cheeseburger is not yet an endangered species. The New Mexico Tourism Department’s 2012 promotion, “The Amazing Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail,” had 97 stops. The trail, still available on the website, covered all areas of the state and all sorts of burger-serving restaurants.
While the Shake Foundation’s slogan is pretentious, the burgers are down-home delicious. Of course I tried the green chile cheeseburger and can hardly wait to enjoy my next one. The green chile cheeseburger is available as a single or double. I had the double, and it wasn’t too much because the meat patties here are a little less than three ounces.
Although some people eat burgers crafted from black beans, water chestnuts and oatmeal, when most of us hear the word “burger” we think of beef. The restaurant advertises that its beef is a blend of ground sirloin and brisket, hormone and antibiotic-free. It’s very tasty.
Each beef burger can be cooked to order but arrives “medium” unless you request otherwise.
The simple menu features three basic burger choices: the classic, cheeseburger and green chile cheeseburger. You specify toppings, both free, such as lettuce, tomato and chopped raw or cooked onions, and those that cost extra, such as cheese and guacamole.
I also enjoyed the New Mexico Shepherd’s Lamb burger. Unlike the beef, the lamb arrived pink in the center. I liked it this way, but if you prefer meat more cooked, be sure to specify that. Like the beef, the lamb tasted fresh, clean and yummy. The fried oyster sandwich ($5.50) with red chile mayo gets a thumbs up because of the crisp oysters and the nice hit of the chile in the sauce. The limited menu also includes turkey and portobello burgers, as well as green chile stew and the restaurant’s version of a Caesar salad. I’d describe it as a bouquet of Romaine leaves presented in a large plastic glass with a well of Caesar dressing in the bottom. It was interesting as a novelty, but unsuccessful as a salad ($3.95).
Burger buns are excellent, buttered, soft and slightly sweet. They are much, much, much better than those you find in restaurants with drive-up windows. The window you order from at Shake Foundation isn’t a drive-up, however; it’s a walk-up.
Fries, hand-cut shoestring style, thin and crisp, arrive, like the burgers, hot and fresh. A single order ($3.75) was plenty for my friend and me to share, but you can get a double ($5.50).
At a place with shake in its name, who could pass up a milkshake? They make them right here thick and good with real ice cream from Taos Cow, which Bon Appetit recently named as one of the 10 best ice cream parlors in the U.S. (The magazine recommends the piñon caramel ice cream, which Shake Foundation serves.) The shakes ($5.75) come in one size, the equivalent of large at most places. You also can order a scoop, a sundae, a root beer float or an affogato, ice cream with espresso and whipped cream.
Speaking of espresso, I was surprised to find that this burger shop has lattes and other fancy coffee drinks. You can order the standard soft drinks as well, or house-made ginger lemonade with the right combination of sweet and tart.
Constructed on a site that housed a gas station and more recently a used car lot, the building faces away from Cerrillos Road so the order and pickup windows are a bit sheltered from the noise and fumes of traffic. The building is a functional gray box. After you get your meal at the window, you can eat at an outdoor picnic table.