Reality Check: Santa Fe Steakburger from Steak 'n Shake
Steak 'n Shake has a new burger you can try at the same time as one (or three) of their new holiday shakes. The Santa Fe Steakburger features two patties composed of Steak 'n Shake's signature blend of sirloin, T-bone and round steaks, plus Monterey Jack cheese, pico de gallo, pickled jalapeños, crispy red tortilla strips, and a healthy gob of guacamole ranch sauce. According to the 500-ish strong diner-style chain's website, it's "inspired by the flavors of the Southwest." Hoping it wouldn't be as horrendous as the hatch chile cheeseburger at Fuddruckers, I gave it a whirl.
Just like the last Steak 'n Shake burger I tried (an egg and bacon-topped Royale steakburger), the Santa Fe steakburger was excellent.
Steak 'n Shake cooks their burgers right out in the open, so you can see how fresh and fatty the beef is. The patties start out as a squat cylinder of meat that get smashed flat as a pancake on the sizzling grill. After cooking, they're immediately set into buns and delivered to your table in seconds. You also get real cutlery, proper plates, unlimited drink refills, and the burger only costs $4.99 with fries.
Steak 'n Shake could easily charge a lot more for their burgers, but for some magical reason, they don't. Not only are they cheap, they're executed extremely well. The beef was juicy, fatty, and thoroughly browned. The bun was soft and squishy and held together right to the end (albiet, barely), and the toppings were well portioned, fresh, and complementary. A thick blanket of completely melted Jack cheese draped over the patties while generously portioned jalapeños and fresh pico de gallo sat on top. The guacamole ranch sauce was smeared on the top bun, with the crispy tortilla strips sticking to it.
The chips were the only questionable element, especially because they seemed to be mostly on one side of the bun. They did provide some unique texture, but overall, I don't think they did anything to improve the burger, besides looking kind of cool. I think I'd skip them next time, so I could concentrate on the interplay between the gooey cheese and tangy guacamole ranch sauce (which had actual chunks of real avocados in it).
Then again, my first Santa Fe steakburger is also going to be my last, because I live in one of the states with no Steak 'n Shakes...but if you're lucky enough to be able to try this burger, you really should, because it's crazy-delicious and shockingly cheap.
About the author: Erin Jackson is a food writer and photographer who is obsessed with discovering the best eats in San Diego. You can find all of her discoveries on her food blog EJeats.com. On Twitter, she's @ErinJax