Despite what David Chang might think, the strength of Melbourne’s burger scene is testament to how well we do them. Just look at Rockwell and Sons’ glorious, heart-stopping Double Patty Smash; Tuck Shop’s queue-starting Minor Burger; or (for the traditionalists) the Andrews burger with the lot. Look also at the expansion of Footscray’s 8bit, which recently opened a second store in the CBD, and at Huxtaburger, which now has a whopping five stores, the latest at Eastland.
Dani Zeini, owner of Melbourne’s newest burger hub, Royal Stacks, is responsible for other great burger joints such as Dandenong Pavillion and Grand Trailer Park Taverna. Although it might feel as though we’ve eaten it all when it comes to burgers, Zeini isn’t trying to emulate what’s already out there.
“We’ve got a lot of high-end burger joints in Melbourne, and we’re so spoiled for choice. But I don’t think we’ve got a lot of really good US-style, fast-food burger options,” says Zeini. “What I’m trying to do here is offer an alternative in the fast-food area.
“If anything, it’s a mini homage to [US burger chain] Shake Shack. I first fell in love with burgers when I had my first Shake Shack in the States about five or six years ago. It’s amazing, everything about it,” he adds. “It’s the ultimate fast-food experience.”
The first Royal Stacks store opened on Monday on Collins Street. It’s quite a big space, with rows of brown-leather booths, a pink neon “burger” sign, and a live garden wall that will “change and grow with the seasons”. A second store will open on Sydney Road in Brunswick in mid-February.
There are eight burgers on the menu – all beef, except for one vegetarian option.
“For me personally, there’s nothing better than an awesome beef burger, and that’s what I want to provide,” says Zeini.
The simplest is the Single Stack: one beef patty (from Vic’s Meat) topped with tomato, butter lettuce, American cheddar, special burger sauce and pickles, and wrapped in a soft white bun. They get bigger and gnarlier from there. Additions include bacon, raw onion, jalapenos, or a monstrous, artery-clogging mac and cheese croquette.
There are fries and Tater Tots (known in this hemisphere as Potato Gems). Mark Mariotti from St Kilda’s 7 Apples Gelato is in charge of the frozen custard, which is technically just ice cream, but a little smoother and silkier. Expect some interesting flavours, such as cheesecake or Kinder Surprise. The frozen custard is also used in the shakes.
Zeini plans to introduce a range of “stacks”: doughnut or waffle stacks, served with frozen custard and toppings. He also plans to install a Coca-Cola freestyle machine, which is like a soft-drink fountain on steroids. It has more than 104 flavours – everything Coca-Cola makes, plus some flavour combos. It is operated by a touch screen and via an app.
“Growing up in the ‘90s, I was heavily influenced by US culture, you know, with hip-hop and basketball. I was blown away the first time I ate Shake Shack and In-N-Out, and to be able to open my own version of those … this is just my dream burger joint,” says Zeini.
470 Collins Street, Melbourne
(03) 9793 2133
Mon to Wed 11.30am–10pm
Thu to Sat 11.30am–11pm