Roger Ebert delivers the panegyric:
A downstate Illinois boy loves the Steak 'n Shake as a Puerto Rican loves rice and beans, an Egyptian loves falafel, a Brit loves banger and mash, an Indian loves tikki ki chaat, a Swede loves herring, a Finn loves reindeer jerky, and a Canadian loves bran muffins. These matters do not involve taste. They involve a deep-seated conviction that a food is absolutely right, and always has been, and always will be. These convictions are fixed at an early age. I do not expect to convert you ...
In my third or fourth year of life I ate my first restaurant meal, at the Steak 'n Shake on Green Street near the University of Illinois campus. I dined on a Steakburger, french fries, and a Coke. I felt extremely important. The eyes of the world were on this capable little man, sitting on a stool at the counter, grasping a Steakburger in his hands and opening up to take the first bite. My dad passed me the ketchup bottle and I felt authority flow into my hands as I smacked it on the bottom. "Aim it on your plate next to the fries," he advised. I did. "Good job, boy."
If I were on Death Row, my last meal would be from Steak 'n Shake. If I were to take President Obama and his family to dinner and the choice were up to me, it would be Steak 'n Shake--and they would be delighted. If the Pope were to ask where he could get a good plate of spaghetti in America, I would reply, "Your Holiness, have you tried the Chili Mac or the Chili 3-Ways?"