A New Burger Shack Opens in Great Barrington
A good drive-in is the elusive essence of American summer. You sit at a picnic table and eat a hamburger or hot dog so good that you close your eyes to savor the moment. The Great American Hot Dog and Hamburger Company, which opened last week in Great Barrington, is such a spot.
The formula and menu are simple: Foot-long hot dogs, hamburgers (with a choice of toppings including avocado and grilled mushrooms), milkshakes and sundaes (including the “Fundae,” which has 12 scoops of ice cream and is served in a bucket.) That’s it. (Eventually, there will be French fries, too.) Chuck Hubler, who’s managing the red-white-and-blue shack and used to run Napa in Lenox, understands the mythic nature of great roadside food and the reverence Californians have for places like In-N-Out Burger. “We’ve mirrored this after the Shake Shack in Madison Square Park,” he says, referring to postmodern burger joint in New York City, which is operated by Danny Meyer who owns top-rated restaurants like Union Square Cafe and Gramercy Tavern.
The savory all-beef hot dogs ($3.75 and $7) are grilled and served in a buttered split-top New England bun with a warm Indian relish studded with corn and dried cranberries. The burgers ($3.75 and up, depending on toppings) are wrapped in wax paper, which, for some inexplicable reason, is key to a good drive-in burger. So is juicy meat, really crisp lettuce, and a roll that does not disintegrate but does not overwhelm either.
The drink menu includes milkshakes ($5.50), Root Beer Floats ($5.75) made with SoCo ice cream, and the “Arnold Palmer,” which is half lemonade and half iced tea ($2), Thankfully, Hubler is not trying to create a souped-up retro experience; rather, he’s attempting to pay homage to the past in a humble way. “The whole idea is to be old-school all-American, and give people good value,” he says.
The Great American Hot Dog and Hamburger Company
940 South Main Street (Route 7), Great Barrington, MA
(about 1/2 mile south of Guido’s)
Daily 11 AM - 7 PM