Known for its award-winning Greg Norman burger and famous CrazyShake milkshakes, Black Tap Craft Burgers & Shakes opened its first California location in Downtown Disney to much fanfare over the weekend,  with celebrity chef Gale Gand and High School Musical star Vanessa Hudgens debuting an enhanced fast-casual service style that is a first for the global brand.

There’s an all new “Shake Window,” where guests can order CrazyShakes and classic milkshakes to go. The menu includes original flavors like Cotton Candy, Sweet n’ Salty, and Brooklyn Blackout, as well as Gand’s new signature Strawberry Shortcake Shake, a flavor available only at the Anaheim location. The concoction built for two starts as a strawberry shake with a vanilla frosted rim and crumbled cake topped with a strawberry shortcake ice cream bar, pink twisty pop, whipped cream, strawberry drizzle and a cherry on top.

“The inspiration came from the joy of running after the ice cream truck and stopping it in time to order a strawberry shortcake bar,” Gand tells L.A. Weekly during our personalized demonstration. “That’s what I try to keep in mind when designing creations for them, sharing memories and connecting through food.”

The Chicago-based pastry chef, who often worked side by side with Julia Child and is one of the many Black Tap consulting chefs, is currently developing a Disney-themed shake exclusive to the Anaheim location.

“We’re working through it at the moment,” says Gand. “The problem is there are so many characters now to choose from, the possibilities are limitless. It would have been a lot easier 40 years ago when it was just Mickey and Minnie.”

The burger, shake and beer joint also boasts a full bar and offers a classic American luncheonette vibe. For the first time at the chain, orders are taken at the front counter and then delivered to the table. Diners can order additional menu items, drinks and milkshakes from servers once seated. The open shake workspace where the craziness is constructed doubles as entertainment while you wait.

In addition to the standard Black Tap craft burgers, including the All-American and the Greg Norman Burger made with wagyu beef, house buttermilk-dill, blue cheese and arugula, and Black Tap’s signature chicken items like the Baja Chicken Sandwich, spicy Korean BBQ wings toasted with sesame seed and scallion served with buttermilk-dill dressing are also featured. And for pescatarians like Hudgens, there’s a delicious vegan burger and quinoa bowl topped with avocado and pickled onions.

Founder Chris Barish brought on the talents of local street artist Jason Woodside for a custom wall design that adds a dramatic pop of geometric color against the black and white palette with blonde wood known to the brand.

“Being in Downtown Disney is great and it's our most unique space,” Barish says of his enhanced fast casual concept over a bowl of deep fried pickles. “Our brand appeals to multi-generations. While there may be lots of kids here,  there are scores of adults of all ages too. It’s great to see grandchildren and grandparents sitting at the same table after a long day in the park.”

Black Tap Anaheim, 1540 S Disneyland Drive, Suite 101, Anaheim; (657) 276-2498,

Burgers, shakes and wings at Black Tap Anaheim; Credit: Michele Stueven

Burgers, shakes and wings at Black Tap Anaheim; Credit: Michele Stueven

LA Weekly