A new rule of thumb: you know when it slides around on the bun, it’s going to be good. This is what the burgers and dogs are like at Shake Shake Shake, a retro all-American diner a block down from the iconic Stadium High School in Tacoma, WA. The aqua and tangerine orange 1940’s inspired classic diner is located in a corner brick building with big front windows and boasts both spacious indoor and outdoor dining areas. Inside, you’ll find a roomy dining area with a raised rounded milkshake bar, funky recycled bowling alley chairs, and an oversize metal lit sign that reads “EAT” on the back wall. First, follow the signs to the register to order, then take a seat either inside or out. The outdoor eating area has a friendly neighborhood vibe; orange and aqua picnic tables with red and white striped umbrellas are scattered around a large cinderblock fire pit. Painted murals of the surrounding neighborhood line one whole side of the airy space; strung market lights sparkle above; handy napkin and condiment stations are posted at each corner. (Take-out and local delivery are available.)
Shake3, as locals call it, serves classic American diner/drive-in burgers that you’d find on a family road trip. Fresh, hand-pounded patties, made from hormone-free Angus beef, sport crispy edges, lots of melted cheese, creamy house made secret sauce, crisp iceberg lettuce, sweet pickles, tangy relish, and crunchy white onions all on a standard toasted burger bun. They’re difficult to eat, but well worth it – just grab a big handful of napkins! The signature hickory burger has the same piled-on ingredients plus a wonderful smoky bacon-y sauce. Fries are of the shoestring variety (you can’t stick just one in your mouth!) and there are crispy tater tots as well — a seemingly strange side for a burger or dog. The most popular frank, the ‘Tacoma dog,’ is a Nathan’s Famous foot-long split in half, griddle cooked, and topped with mustard, pepperoncinis, relish, and crunchy raw white onions. It’s served with a knife and fork – a good idea, as all the mouthwatering ingredients defy hand-holding.
True to the restaurant’s name, shakes are delicious: served in classic diner milkshake glasses with surplus piled into a silver tin cup. They are creamy and rich. The house specialty Tiger shake is a nod to the local Stadium High School’s mascot and includes Tacoma’s famous Almond Roca candy crushed into it with salted caramel and chocolate sauce drizzled on the inside walls of the glass to create a striped “tiger” look. A few other milkshake options: classic chocolate and vanilla (of course), miso butterscotch, pb&j, frozen latte, red licorice, coconut, and nutella. You can even have a ‘boozy’ shake – an interesting concept, but one that I did not test.