Is Steak ‘n Shake worth the wait?

They’re lining up at South Point for this Midwestern favorite

Is Steak ‘n Shake worth waiting for? Are you from Iowa?
Photo: Christopher DeVargas

Vegas may be the great American melting pot, and we certainly have people and food from all over the country, but we don’t have everything. If we did, I would never hear people whine about a nostalgia-laced treat from back home that they just can’t get in Vegas.

Midwesterners, in particular, seem to long for favorite foods more vocally than others. There are two well-known fast food spots I’ve heard these folks rave about for years, and over the holidays I sampled them both. I devoured my first Chick-fil-A sandwich in Colorado just before Christmas, and while it was a crispy, juicy, well-spiced delight, I don’t know what all the fuss is about. It’s a couple of notches above KFC.

Restaurant Guide

Steak 'n Shake
At South Point, 796-7111.
Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-midnight; Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-1 a.m.

Then I got home and rolled down to South Point to try out Steak ’n Shake, which has been open for about three weeks and has ’em lining up long. That seemed crazy to me, too. Who waits for up to an hour to get a table in a casino diner for a burger and fries? The hype built unrealistic expectations in my mind, until I realized I would wait (probably) for a taste of something that brings a flood of happy memories with every bite. It’s about more than ground steakburgers and hand-scooped milkshakes at Steak ’n Shake, at least for those people in line.

For me, it was a very good burger: two thin, juicy, quick-grilled patties with melted American cheese, fresh lettuce and tomatoes, pickles and onions, mustard relish and mayo. Ultra-thin shoestring fries are fabulous, and while we’re talking about childhood memories, why not dip them in the creamy, too-thick-for-a-straw shakes? (Best bet: combine shake flavors, like the Banocolate.) The chili, meanwhile, is rich and tastes like it’s been simmering for a long time. But it’s thin and saucy, and needs more beans and chunks of beef. I don’t know … maybe this is how they do chili in Illinois. Why you would ladle it over a bowl of spaghetti, I will never know.

Overall, yeah, Steak ’n Shake is worth the wait. How long? Depends on where you’re from.

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Brock is an award-winning writer and reporter who has been documenting life in Las Vegas for 20 years. He currently ...

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