Ghetto Grub: Snack Shack

January 15, 2019

From food carts to hole-in-the wall joints, we try out meals that literally test your intestinal fortitude. There may be flies on the counter, and the dishes aren’t always clean, but that big, hot bowl of what’s presumably food just looks so good.  Yes, these are the places your mom warned you about. But it’s okay, we won’t tell if you won’t. Welcome to Ghetto Grub.

Since Nico still appears to be mired knee-deep in discussions about beer and its effect on breast-feeding (!) and menstruation (!!!), I’m filling in again this week with another Ghetto Grub entry. Today, we’re visiting the Snack Shack.

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The Snack Shack is still fairly new in UP Diliman.

UP Diliman has more than its fair share of iconic places where you can score some great grub at cheap prices (and almost never get sick from any of it). From the famous isaw to the various kinds of siomai, the street food there serves as a common touchstone for many isko and iska, no matter what age or generation. The Snack Shack is different, though, in that it’s a fairly new addition at just a year or so old. This means you run little risk of your fifty-seven year old aunt telling you that she lost it for the first time in the same parking lot you now buy grilled offal from.

Snack Shack actually has two branches. There’s the one inside the university grounds (that we’re featuring today) and another in Sikatuna. The latter used to be just beside the Mini-Stop at Maginhawa Street, but it disappeared (for reasons unknown) before popping up again at its current home along the V. Luna Extension.

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Despite what the photo above may suggest, the Snack Shack is not located in some remote province where they sell gin in sachets. It’s actually fairly accessible. This branch is just across the street from the post office and anywhere from a 1-10 minute walk (depending on how in shape you are) from the UP Shopping Center.

As you can see, there are no tables. You have a few Monoblock chairs and stools, plus a couple of long wooden benches, and that’s it. Occasionally, a random cat will decide to monopolize what little seating there is. Still, people continue to patronize the stall in droves. It’s pretty clear that the (lack of) décor is not the reason they keep coming back.

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The Snack Shack specializes in burgers, and only burgers. Don’t believe that menu, I’m almost certain that the sausage is mythical. It’s always out of stock when I try to order. I suspect they just wanted something to fill the white space in the middle of the flyer.

Each burger takes 15-20 minutes to cook from scratch.

Snack Shack burgers are not fast food, far from it. Each order takes a pretty long time to arrive, a 15-20 minute wait is typical. One of the signs near the cashier explains that this is because they make each burger from scratch only when it’s ordered. I don’t know if that’s a legitimate excuse, but I can’t really fault their results at all.

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Half-pounder with Double Cheese

The Half-Pounder with Double Cheese is what I always order when I eat there. At only Php 135, it is quite possibly the cheapest burger in the entire metro. I haven’t done the math, but I think that gram per gram (of meat) that it even beats cheapo burjer stalwarts Burger Machine and Angel’s Burger at value for money.

The beef is always cooked evenly and remains juicy.

Their Half-Pounder with Double Cheese is an intimidating sandwich. My crappy iPhone photography really doesn’t do it justice. The burger is heavy in the hand, the oversized patty (they use one large patty instead of two smaller ones) bulges and swells in odd patterns, one side protruding from the bun just daring you to put it in your mouth. Despite the freakish size, the beef is always cooked evenly and remains juicy. I’ve never had a bad burger from them.

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Quarter-pounder with Cheese

For most people, the Quarter-pounder with Cheese would more than suffice.  I’ve never actually had it myself, but I’ve been assured that it’s equally as good as the giant monster I always order. I imagine it tastes the same, only smaller and cheaper. I recommend most first timers to order this burger instead of its larger big brother. The only reason I don’t is that I figure if I’m waiting half an hour anyway, might as well get the most amount of food possible at the end. It just makes sense.

One thing, though, that I think I need to point out is that Snack Shack’s burgers are no fancy Wagyu beef patties on delicately toasted sesame buns baked in-house. There are no complex interplays of subtle spices playing on your tongue with every bite, as the crisp greens serve as palate cleansers in between swallows.

Nope, there’s none of that.

Snack Shack makes simple, old-school, honest grilled burgers.

Instead, you just get beef.  Just simple, old-school grilled burgers that are seasoned well and served to you honest and unpretentious.  If you’re down for that, you’ll love the Snack Shack. If you’re not, that’s cool too, but you’re better off looking for a place with tables and air-conditioning.

The Verdict

Is the Snack Shack for you? Let’s see.

Ghetto Factor: 0.8/10

There are no tables, no side of fries, no aircon, no walls, even. Still, you’re inside the state university’s grounds, so things will be fairly safe. The spot has relatively heavy foot traffic so you’ll never feel alone and isolated, you’re always still part of the milieu.

Conyopatibility: 5.7/10

The place is hot and random wildlife cats tend to be a regular sight. For those allergic to sweating and flies, you will not have a pleasant time at Snack Shack. Then again, there are plenty of parking spaces around the place, so I don’t know, maybe you can stay in there with the aircon on and ask Manong Driver to just order for you? They also deliver (barely), which is another option if you’re within their (super limited) coverage area.

Health Hazard: 2.8/10

To be clear, I’ve never gotten sick from eating at Snack Shack. In fact, I don’t know anyone who’s gotten sick from eating at Snack Shack. But still, it baffles me how they can afford to price their burgers so cheaply. What’s the secret? Do I even want to know? Are they making their patties from ground-up giraffes? Unlikely, but even if they did, I’d probably still continue eating there.

Have you eaten at Snack Shack? What do you think of their burgers? Any other places you’d like us to visit on Ghetto Grub? Leave a comment below, it’s free!

Snack Shack
Area 2 Branch
Roces St. corner Laurel St.
UP Diliman
Operating Hours: 11:00 am – 8:00 pm
Closed on Mondays

Lars Roxas Lars Roxas

Laurence is a twenty-something turtle pretending to be a writer. In the past, he has worked as a warehouse clerk, Apple genius, martial arts instructor, copywriter, editor, english teacher, and personal trainer. He can’t swim or ride a bike, but he's done Judo on three continents. He has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of the Philippines, Diliman. Occasionally, his stories appear in real actual books. He makes awesome waffles.

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39 comments in this post SHOW

39 responses to “Ghetto Grub: Snack Shack”

  1. Nico Goco says:

    why the hell did everything just get better in QC just as I got transferred away from there?! life is unfair.

    btw, i’m still sitting in a corner and asking myself if everything I knew about alcohol was wrong.

  2. Adrian De Leon says:

    So uh… do they really give free hugs?

  3. Nicah Santos says:

    Oh happy day! Our precious Snack Shack is finally getting some unsolicited publicity. 🙂 This is a UPD treasure.

    Fun fact: It is because of Snack Shack that I applied to write for pepper.ph (I got turned down; no hard feelings). I wanted to write about awesome in-campus food because that Snack Shack burger is just… Beautiful. It is food that inspires.

  4. Jai Nadal says:

    Haven’t tried the branch inside UPD, but I usually pass by the one in Sikatuna, which is a 10-minute walk from our house. Fortunately, I was able to try the Bockwurst with Cheese. It takes just as long to cook these, but they do it well. There’s that ‘pop’ on the first bite when the sausage skin breaks, and the juices and cheese ooze out. I tend to describe the Snack Shack as Good Burgers’ “bad brother.” Having around the same price point as Good Burgers, but using the relatively not so healthy stuff, unlike Good Burgers that only use Chicken, or Veggie patties, with options for whole wheat buns, and a heck of a lot more options for toppings. They also have a Maginhawa branch.

    • Lars Roxas says:

      The Maginhawa branch is long dead 🙂

      • Jai Nadal says:

        I mean Good Burgers also has a Maginhawa branch. I thought you guys might want to try it, since I don’t think it’s been featured yet. They’ve got one of the very best (and cheap to boot!) Chicken burgers around.

      • Jai Nadal says:

        I mean Good Burgers also has a Maginhawa branch. I thought you guys might want to try it, since I don’t think it’s been featured yet. They’ve got one of the very best (and cheap to boot!) Chicken burgers around.

        • Lars Roxas says:

          I love good burgers, used to eat there a lot when I was still studying 🙂 grabe ung maanghang nilang burger, nakakasira ng araw sa anghang

          • Jai Nadal says:

            Haha! A friend of mine actually likes that. He even adds more chili garlic! If you guys are looking to heat things up, you could also try (if you haven’t yet) Buffalo’s Wings ‘n’ Things, with Wingsanity 2.0 sauce. So hot (yet undeniably good), that you have to sign a waiver first. 😀

  5. Lando Cusi says:

    I didn’t know they had a UP campus branch! I haven’t had their stuff since they moved from their Ministop branch, but this one is so close. So thank you for this!

  6. Cris Francisco says:

    What I do is get my burger from Snack Shack and then some potato wedges (much like Potato Corner but tastier) from another stall in Area 2. I forgot the name of the stall but maybe you can do an article on the small eateries in Area 2. 🙂

  7. sai says:

    Can you post a map or direction from the shopping center? Not from UP so I only know the shopping center. Thanks!

    • Lars Roxas says:

      It’s in front of the post office. When you’re at the Shopping Center, ask someone where the post office is and walk there. You can’t miss it. 🙂

  8. Tricia says:

    My brothers know the owner of Snack Shack…… If I remember correctly, he’s also from UP. 🙂 The Maginhawa branch closed down because the owner of the place Snack Shack was renting gets mad because it’s noisy. It’s the same person who complained about Leona pizza and art place in that area because they serve beer hahaha

  9. Champ says:

    First heard about it from my professor, I like it with blue cheese and jalapeno peppers. I never looked back! The sausages are available in Sikatuna branch ;))

  10. snackshackghettopimp says:

    hello ghetto grub, nice article you got here. it accurately describes our shop without leaving any details, and thats exactly how we do it at the snackshack. spare the pleasantries. we dont pretend were some fancy restaurant and that was never the intention since the beginning. we just wanted to serve something good. so good it will make you go back. it has been pretty effective so far. and about the price point: when we started we didnt know anything about running a business (we’re art school junkies). we priced our burgers so low we didnt even make any profit for the next 6 months considering that we were always sold out. quarterpounder with cheese was buy-one-take-one for 100 pesos, half pounder was 85 pesos. nowadays most of the customers are from the upper rungs and laugh at the “uber” low pricing of our products, which kinda baffles me coz 70pesos aint that cheap yknow, at least not if youre from UP (and dont, uh, drive a car to school). and we dont serve fanciness at our shop, the lack of chairs, tables, packaging, aircon is pretty much the difference that you pay for at other burger joints that charge you 200 bucks for something that practically contains the same basic ingredients. add to that the fact that we dont have PR managers, Marketing, HR, accountants and all that bull- we run the shop ourselves. peace

    • Lars Roxas says:

      I remember those buy one take one days! Un talaga ang sobrang di ko maintindihan noon kung pano naafford ganun ka mura. I still enjoyed your burgers but suspected some kind of dark magic was afoot. 🙂

      • snackshackpimp says:

        araw araw kami namamalengke nun gamit bike kaya minus gas money sa pricing. yun yung times na sold out nga pero baon pa rin sa utang! good times, and we learned a lot

  11. Allen Genoraga says:

    How do I commute there? Do I take jeeps from Tandang Sora or the one in Philcoa?directions please..

  12. Jazz says:

    After this post, I decided to hunt down the Snack Shack.

    Fifteen minute wait for a half-pounder.
    Downed in 5 minutes. <3

    Thanks Ghetto Grub/Pepper/Lars for the article! I now have a new favorite burger. 😀

    (Lars, you're right, crummy iPhone photo doesn't do this baby justice!)

    • Lars Roxas says:

      it’s one of my favorites as well! 🙂

      • Jazz says:

        Oh btw, think you guys could feature Kanto Freestyle Breakfast on Ghetto Grub? I’ve been hearing a lot about this joint in Mandaluyong that calls itself a “sossy tapsihan” or “tapsihan uplifted”. Might be a good place to check out (in case you haven’t yet). 🙂

  13. kat says:

    They now have a branch in Maginhawa, Sikatuna Area, near Save More. Thought you oughta know.

    • Lars Roxas says:

      If you read the article, you’ll see that I mentioned that as early as the second paragraph after the picture of their sign 🙂

  14. Nidez Cruz says:

    This reminds me of Kanto Freestyle Breakfast in Mandaluyong. Just a ‘hole in the wall’ but they serve gourmet breakfast. Pepper.ph should feature it. 🙂

  15. Ed says:

    My friends and I used to buy their half-pound burgers when it cost less than P100 (around P90+, no joke). This was maybe a year ago or during the earlier part of 2013. Reeeaaally good deal if you ask me lol.

    Also, I got a really upset stomach once after eating a half-pounder (it was so bad I thought I was seriously gonna die). Though maybe that was partly my fault since I decided to down some milk tea from a nearby stand within a few minutes.

  16. utouchmytralalamydingdingdong says:

    Gotta try this!

  17. mdbong says:

    the patty is 60% beef and 40% pork…

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