Is There Anything Healthy at Shake Shack?

Shake Shack Philly opens tomorrow, ya'll. If you're considering joining the masses to find out what all the hype is about—but don't want to kill yourself calorie-wise—here's what to order.

Here’s the deal, people: Philadelphia’s own Shake Shack outpost opens tomorrow at 20th and Sansom. And let’s face it, because you’re human, you’re going to want to try something. But being the health-conscious Be Well reader that you are, you’re going to want to keep it light enough to make it to your evening yoga/spin/Pilates class in one piece, right? Right? Yeah, we’re torn, too. So to help us make smarter Shake Shack decisions, we sought some expert advice to help us navigate the menu and steer clear of total caloric disasters.

First, the bad news: Kelly Strogen, the dietician-in-residence at Wayne’s Club La Maison, says not to be fooled by Shake Shack’s all-natural, local, farm-raised ingredients. Even though these words mean the product is technically better for you than corn-fed beef, they don’t mean that the meat will be low in fat and healthy. In fact, after reviewing the menu, Strogen said that there don’t seem to be any top-to-bottom healthy options at all. [Cue an ominous: dun dun dunnnn]

Here’s the good news: It’s okay to live a little, people; the danger comes when you live a lot. Splurging on something naughty every now and then won’t be your ultimate undoing, especially if you balance your indulgences with healthier eating and regular exercise at other points in the day and week and month and year.

Strogen says if you make the right choices, Shake Shack isn’t a terrible place for grabbing a bite without killing yourself calorically. Here are her menu picks:

• BURGERS: Go for the single hamburger with lettuce, tomato and onion. Calories: 375.
• FLAT-TOP DOGS: Order a Bird Dog with lettuce, tomato and onion, if possible, or the Shack-cago Dog without relish, pickles or celery salt. Calories: 250 and 290, respectively.
• FROZEN CUSTARD: Need a treat? Of course you do. Opt for single vanilla ice cream (hold the cone!) with fresh fruit topping. Calories: 240.
• DRINKS: Wash down your meal with unsweetened iced tea or good ol’ fashioned water (disappointed?).

Kelly’s Shake Shack Tips

Main Dish
“If you stick with a regular hamburger or Bird Dog, you’ll generally be fine in terms of calories for a meal,” says Strogen. Don’t: eat any more red or processed meat on the day you eat there. Do: go home and eat lots of fruits and vegetables.

Every little bit adds up. “Think about each topping before you order!” cautions Strogen. “Beware of extras that you add on to hot dogs or hamburgers.” Note that it’s not specified exactly what’s in the restaurant’s ‘ShackSauce,’ but in general, these “special” sauces are usually loaded with fat and sodium. In a word: avoid.

Sides and Desserts
Avoid ordering any extra sides when you’re here. A single serving of fries has 470 calories, the cheese fries will cost you 700. The ice cream floats and sundaes will eat up a third of your daily value for calories and fat and are super high in sugar (yikes!). “If you have to order a sundae, split it between at least four people to keep it around 200 calories per serving,” says Strogen. Whatever you do, avoid the Concretes section, since sundaes listed there are already greater than 560 calories—and that’s before the mix-ins.

If you really want something to drink (other than water, of course), a beer or glass of wine would be a better option than a float, shake, or something sugar sweetened like iced tea or soda. “Twelve ounces of a summer ale will typically be about 150 calories. Five ounces of wine will cost you about 130 calories,” says Strogen.