The Shack

5201 Folsom Boulevard Sacramento, CA

The first step in acquiring a new restaurant location is to look at what was left from the previous owner and decide whether or not it is of use. The Shack, located on 52nd Street and Folsom Boulevard, made several executive decisions that won my heart and tummy over, but electing to paint over the word “Sub” on the sign to give the establishment its desired name made me an instant fan. Sure, there’s a noticeable space between “The” and “Shack,” but it’s got low-budget charm.

Not yet a year old, The Shack sits across the street from SoCal Tavern in East Sacramento. The exotic overgrown shrubbery shields patrons from scorching sunrays, but the sandwich joint is still easy to spot with its bright orange, yellow and lime green color scheme. Patrons have the option of either the indoor diner and wooden booth tavern-style seating or the wraparound patio with an assortment of umbrella-guarded tables, wicker chairs and picnic benches. Do not let the name “Shack” fool you; it’s a quaint venue, but not a shoebox like, say, Jim Denny’s. I took to the patio, finding a comfortable table without much dilemma during the lunch rush.

I ordered a 1/3-pound. Shack Burger, absorbing the venue into my short list of local business burgers to try, adding cheddar for 75 cents. Mushrooms, jalapenos and grilled onions are also available extras for 75 cents apiece, while avocado, bacon and pastrami are all $1.50–industry standard. The Shack did not appear to have a signature sandwich as the menu sticks to the basics: BLT, patty melt, club, Philly-style steak sandwich and, of course, the Reuben. The burger came pre-loaded with lettuce, tomato and onions, so do not assume privilege to apply as needed, with a fat pickle slice and a side of fries. The Shack makes its burgers medium to perfection, retaining all the juicy bites that are greasy enough to dribble a little down your chin, but not clog an artery on site.

The Shack rises above the norm with its beer selection. Of the 13 beers on tap, only Pabst Blue Ribbon and Stella Artois were not of the craft brew ilk. This spot is listed as one of the admired and patronized spots of the Hop Heads of Sacramento Beer Lovers Union–if this crew is digging your brews, then you’re clearly not fucking around.

I paired my burger with a Leffe Blonde, one of my all-time Belgian favorites. Buried at the bottom of the list for domestic bottles were Budweiser, Bud Light and Coors, while the libations list spanned three pages that categorized the extensive list to include German, Belgian and Dopplebocks, among others. Had I not been on assignment, I’d have indulged in a bottle of Chimay to wash down my hearty burger and finished the Sacramento Bee’s crossword or marginally challenged the New York Times’.

Deadlines aside, the only further drawback to The Shack is that its off-the-grid location made it a safe haven for young yuppies in training. It bemused and amused me equally to be in their company, eavesdropping on 4th of July barbecue plans and regaled stories of secretly pounding fifths of vodka at River Cats games–how rad is alcohol-poisoning, bro?

I’ll chalk this setback up to the Friday lunch crowd on an impending holiday weekend. The Shack is still a great place to patron. The sliced pickle that came with my burger was huge and crunchy. Tuesdays are beer tasting nights; week one, for example, is Belgian beers. And with the brunch scene in Midtown already ablaze, I might sneak away to The Shack one weekend for a Huevos Del Shacko (two eggs, corn tortillas, ham and house-made ranchero sauce, served with potatoes) and $10 liters of mimosa.

    Blake Gillespie

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    Bourbon enthusiast. Infrequent shaver.