Cheeseburgers topped with crispy fried pork cracklins, Goo Goo Cluster frozen custard—later this month, some of Nashville’s finest ingredients will make sweet music with Shake Shack when the high-end burger chain opens its first Tennessee location. Part of restaurateur Danny Meyer’s empire, Shake Shack started in 2001 as a hot dog cart in New York City, then began specializing in hormone-free burgers and diner classics (milkshakes, crinkle-cut fries). Since, it’s exploded, with more than a hundred locations spanning the country and as far as Abu Dhabi and Tokyo.
Shake Shack Nashville will open in late August in the Green Hills neighborhood southwest of downtown. A few weeks ago, locals got to preview the menu at a pop-up hosted by Husk Nashville. Many of the items are built on a trip Shake Shack’s culinary director Mark Rosati made earlier this year to gather inspiration. (Shake Shacks across the country work with local purveyors to make certain items location-specific.) “I was having three lunches and multiple dinners each day, trying to taste as much as I could,” he says. Here are a few of the only-in-Nashville flavors he’s adding to the menu:
Specialty Frozen Custards
Music City ‘Mallow
“This is our take on the iconic Goo Goo Cluster,” Rosati says. Chocolate custard is laced with marshmallow fluff and cookie crumbles.
Caramel Bourbon Twist
Vanilla custard swirled with local Olive & Sinclair Chocolate Co.’s Bourbon Nib Brittle. The local chocolatier’s whiskey-inflected brittle is made by aging cacao beans in bourbon barrels from nearby Corsair Distillery. “The bourbon gives the chocolate a rich depth of flavor,” Rosati says. “Plus bourbon is always welcome here in Tennessee.”
Pie Oh My
Vanilla custard blended with a slice of local bakery Little Mosko’s seasonal pie (like classic apple and peach).
“The Crackle Shack”
Shake Shack chefs had long tinkered with a burger topped with cracklins at food festivals, but the Crackle Shack’s forever home will be in Nashville. The patty gets a smother of Shack Sauce (the chain’s beloved mustard-ketchup-and-mayo blend), and a crown of seasoned pork rinds and cracklins from Nashville barbecue joint Peg Leg Porker. “Not a lot of Shake Shacks have special burgers,” Rosati says. “Nashville deserves this one.”
Would Shake Shack ever throw its hat into the Nashville hot chicken arena? Rosati doesn’t rule it out. “If we do have hot chicken here eventually, it will be fun to see the strong opinions people have,” Rosati says. “Any food that brings about passion and conviction—that’s always a good thing.”