Ghetto Grub: Snack ShackJanuary 15, 2019
- Lars RoxasWords
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.