Tay’s Burger Shack, in the Northland, switches to organic, grass-fed beef
A little over a year ago, I stumbled on a little restaurant in North Kansas — Tay’s Burger Shack, at 1019 Armour — with a menu happily concentrated on the basics: burgers, hot dogs, chili dogs, Frito chili pie and hand-cut french fries. There’s no drive-thru window in this 66-year-old building, which is so unassuming that you might pass it if you aren’t watching out for it, but this is food well worth getting out of the car to fetch.
Inside, the dimly lighted building could still use a couple more windows, but the food is only getting better. See, 38-year-old owner Kent Harrison (who also owns the Jerzey Boys Deli at 315 Armour Road) is determined to up his game in the local burger playoffs, so a couple of weeks ago, he stopped using traditional ground beef in his burgers and chili, in favor of grass-fed organic beef. It’s the kind of thing you’d expect from a self-identifying “artisanal” burger venue, not from a knotty-oak-paneled space in one of the metro’s more trend-proof neighborhoods.
“There’s fast food,” Harrison says, “and there’s us. We only use Nathan’s Famous hot dogs, and we’re now using buns from a local baker.” (He won’t say which one.) “I may be just a burger shack, but I want to stand out from the crowd.”
Greater diligence (and expense) dedicated to ingredients is, Harrison points out, the future of fast food — and really, he’s right.
“Our customers noticed, right away, that the burgers were juicy but not greasy,” he tells me. “We cook them to temperature, but they appear to be medium well, even though we cook the meat all the way through. The patties cook differently without all the preservatives and additives. Our patrons tell me they don’t feel bloated after lunch.”
Harrison is something like a born restaurateur: “My parents gave me a 25-pound bag of potatoes for my birthday one year because even when I was a kid, I liked making my own french fries,” he says. And he still hand-cuts his own fries, in addition making his own pepperoncini seasoning and sriracha ketchup and mayonnaise for the spuds.
Tay’s Burger Shack is open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.