How can Shakes from Shake Shack San Mateo be this bad?

Shake Shack San Mateo fails at making a Shake! The word “Shake” is the first part of their name, Shake Shack! You’d think they would have at least the process of making of a shake down solid. But nope. Not yet. At least not at this location.

Shake Shack sign in the North Block of Hillsdale Shopping Center

Shake Shack’s newest Bay Area location opened recently in the modern new addition of the Hillsdale Mall known as the North Block.

We have visited Shake Shack locations in London, New York and the Washington DC area, and while the locations have been busy and over hyped, the food was at least tasty and matched what we had ordered and paid for.

Here’s how we experienced the complete failure of Shake Shack’s signature shake on a recent visit. After having a great dinner at the fairly new Japanese Teishoku restaurant, YAYOI, also at the Hillsdale Mall we decided to give Shake Shack a try for a holiday dessert.

We waited in the line for shake orders as the automated kiosk was for meal orders. Some locations we’ve been to had separate lines just for drink orders but it depends on the location. The line moved along and we ordered the Coffee Fair Shake along with the seasonal “Pie Oh My” Concrete with blended pumpkin pie. For those not familiar with Shake Shack’s frozen offerings, the Concrete is kind of a mixed up mash of frozen custard and toppings.

After a looong wait our order was finally called, the buzzer we were given never actually buzzed. We picked up the Coffee Fair Shake and the Pumpkin Pie Concrete and moved out of the crowded order wait area. But something didn’t look right, the “coffee shake” was way too light colored to have any amount of coffee in it and the “Concrete” looked more like soup than anything remotely like concrete.

This wasn’t a hot day, it was in the high 40’s outside and this location was getting plenty of cold air blowing in through the constantly opening doors. So how were these frozen treats left all soupy and gross and presented to the customer like that?

After trying the “coffee” shake it was obviously not the coffee shake we ordered so we took it back to the counter and were presented with a new shake that looked exactly the same except for a “Malted” sticker on the top. “This one is coffee”, stated the counter worker. Somewhat reassured that we got the right one, we ventured outside of the crowded area and sat down to enjoy the new North Block outdoor area with fire pits and a large lit Christmas tree. We were trying to place the flavor of the shake, definitely not coffee, maybe it was caramel and vanilla? It was hard to place given that the shake along with the concrete were given to us in a melted state that just tasted like sugary syrup. Cracking the lid off the melted concrete revealed nothing pumpkin related, just some chocolate chunks swimming in a murky sea of some sort of melted sugary concoction. Maybe these were made earlier in the day and just kept under a warming lamp until some unsuspecting customer ordered one?

After a lot of wasted time and a total of $11.48 with the $1.00 tax spent on foul tasting liquid mush, we dumped the remains of the not so frozen treats in the trash and left with the taste of disappointment lingering in our mouths. Disappointment apparently is the new flavor of the “Golden State” and the Bay Area. High costs, long waits, heavy traffic, dirty, crumbling streets and a direction that does not seem like anything resembling forward.

Hillsdale Shopping Center is located at 60 31st Ave, San Mateo south of the downtown area and has plenty of other food options that might not disappoint.

Though, if you want a real shake, skip the “shack” and head to Jack’s Prime just south of the Hillsdale Mall on El Camino Real. I recommend the coffee shake with Oreos.

The melted cups of disappointment served up by Shake Shack. What was supposed to be a Coffee Fair Shake at top and what wasn’t the Pumpkin Pie Concrete at bottom.

Shake Shack melted my faith in the simplicity of the Shake.

Shake Shack is Now Open! Just not ready for business quite yet.