Welcome to Burger, Fries, and a Shake — a new series in which we visit fast-food and fast-casual restaurants in search of the perfect menu trio: a great burger, superb fries, and a thick, rich milkshake. What makes this combo the right way to put menus to the test? It’s balanced, there’s a variety of flavor and textural notes at play, and it’s perfectly calibrated to expose any weaknesses that a restaurant might have. The skillset to make a great burger is vastly different than that of prepping awesome fries or mixing up a fantastic shake.
The first stop on our quest takes us to Good Burger — the Nickelodeon-commissioned pop-up restaurant built in homage to the legendary 90s All That skit of the same name and launched to help promote All That‘s reboot on Nickelodeon. The show itself may be coming back to entertain a new generation, but it’s clear that the Good Burger pop-up in Santa Monica, California was meant as a nostalgia bomb built for 90s kids who grew up watching Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell fool around in a fictional fast-food joint.
Unsurprisingly, the interior of Good Burger leans heavily into the show. You’re greeted by artistic replicas of original set pieces, a 90’s themed arcade, and quotes across the walls to awaken long-forgotten TV memories. When you approach the cash register you’re greeted with the iconic, “Welcome to Good Burger, home of the Good Burger may I take your order?” in a laid-back SoCal drawl. It’s not un-fun, by any means.
Aside from a few photo opportunities, the restaurant space doesn’t offer much to do, aside from playing a few video games and eating, so let’s get straight into it. The Good Burger isn’t exactly a replica of the Good Burger from All That and its subsequent spin-off film, and for good reason — the restaurant from the skit was an absolute hole. It was a fluorescent bulb lit, often nauseating, Gen X-led representation of the vapidity of 90’s commercial fast food. A far cry from the vaulted-ceiling, exposed wood, fake meat-serving fast-casual restaurants of today.
I went into the restaurant unsure of what to expect, food-wise. I figured the pop-up wouldn’t be a recreation of the original Good Burger, because no one’s that nostalgic, though I fully expected there to be orange soda. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the kitchen was being run by Los Angeles hometown hero, Alvin Cailan, the founder of Eggslut.