A few weeks ago, the first-ever Dallas Shake Shack opened with all the fanfare of a royal coronation. The lawn in front of the Crescent Hotel, where the first North Texas Shack is housed, is crisp green and manicured. Inside, there’s 1930s shiplap as cladding, and a light trellis that uses reclaimed wood straight from rivers in the south. One Shack burger is hugged by American cheese, nestling with a hunk of spicy jalapeño-cheese sausage from Deep Ellum barbecue favorite Pecan Lodge. The burgers at Shake Shack are, as they’ve always been, delicious. They’re smart, polished, and surprisingly good sandwiches from a fast-food company.
However, there is no menu item from Shake Shake (or In-N-Out, or Five Guys), not one, that will replace what I love about Whataburger. No matter how many times the fast-food industry is reinvented or how many contrarian arguments are made attempting to debunk the joy of eating Whataburger late at night, I will always feel a great wave of warmth in my heart for Texas’ cleverest fast-food chain. Whataburger is tied into the unpretentious, friendly, and good-natured feeling of what it means to live in Texas.