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CHICAGO'S BEST BURGER JOINTS

The Definitive Guide to Burger Dining - part 3

GEOFF BURTON - CINEMATREK TRAVEL NEWS

Whisk wraps a 1/2 pound burger with a pound of bacon that looks tempting

 

These burger joints just missed the top ten this year. Maybe if they try harder...

 

CHEF'S BURGER BISTRO 164 E Grand Ave This cavernous joint off the steps of Grand and St Claire was actually in the top ten; well positioned in the 8th spot. But maybe the competition became too great because they completely redid the menu making it one big build-your-own burger joint. No imagination and no explanation as to why they sabotaged themselves. The only reason they are this high is because of the great space.

 

THE BAD APPLE 4300 N Lincoln - In Lincoln Square corner eatery is casually cool and has 14 specialty burgers to tempt you. I went with the Edmund Fig-Gerald which is topped with a nifty fig and bacon relish. Dang it's good! A side of fries and chased with a Uncle John's Cinnamon Apple Cider. When I go again, I feel a Grizzly has my name on it.

 

WHISK 2018 W Chicago - Owners Rick Rodriguez and chef David Rodriguez have the best menu concept as the restaurant opens serving brunch from 11 AM - 5 PM, then changes into a burger joint for dinner. They also had the most mouth watering burger concept with the Rons Swanson (named after the character from Parks & Recreation) which I ordered. It is a half pound burger wrapped and cooked in a pound of bacon. Tempting yes, but the bacon was too briny which killed the good feeling since this was their signature burger. A side of truffle fries and a bottle of Fitz Root beer from their HUGE selection of sodas. If they fix the problem with the salty bacon, this becomes the most popular family friendly burger joint in the city.

 

BOP-N-GRILL 6604 N Sheridan Road - Completely unadorned with cafeteria chairs and cheap cafe tables, this Edgewater joint nevertheless churns out some awesome burgers. It has several things going at once with a Asian flair intermixed with European concepts. I had the Umami burger with mushroom duxelle, bacon, gouda and tomato. On the side make sure you go with the kimchi fries with bacon and cheese sauce. (I never would have thought kimchi and fries would work, but as with everything in the world, bacon makes it happen.) If the owners put a bit more back into the place and expand the beverages and dessert, this becomes a top ten burger joint. Period.

 

You are probably curious about the non-winning places visited and where they fell on the ratings. In no particular order and with what I ordered but sans the description other than to say they were nice, just not nice enough.

 

HARRY CAREY'S SEVENTH INNING STRETCH Water Tower Place, 7th floor

MELLOW YELLOW 1508 E 53rd Street - Garbage burger, chili cheese fries

R.J. GRUNTS 2056 N Lincoln Park West - Yowza burger and fries

WEBER GRILL 539 N State - Prime kettle burger and baked beans

STANDING ROOM ONLY 610 S Dearborn - SRO Burger and cheddar fries

TIMOTHY O'TOOLES 622 N Fairbanks Ct - Little Timmy and cobbler

 

Meat eaters never get enough of a burger stacked with bacon or ham

 

ELEVEN CITY DINER 1112 S Wabash Ave

JOHN BARLEYCORN'S 149 W Kinzie - Double Philly stack and fries

HACKNEY'S PRINTER'S ROW 733 S Dearborn - Kobe burger and fries

MILLER'S PUB 134 S Wabash - BBQ burger and fries

EXCHEQUER PUB 226 S Wabash - Untouchable burger and waffle fries

MONKS PUB 205 West Lake - Hawaiian burger and loaded tater tots

COAST BURGER 520 N Michigan Avenue (North Bridge Mall) - Flatiron burger and chili/cheddar fries

CORK & KERRY 3259 S Princeton - Chicago and fries

BIGS & LITTLES 860 N Orleans - Zeus and foie gras fries

BLAZE-N-GRILL 6400 N Milwaukee - Bacon/cheddar burger and three layer fries

OLD TOWN SOCIAL 455 W North Avenue - Ranchero and fries

BULL AND BEAR 431 N Wells - B&B Kobe burger and truffle fries

JAKE MELNICK'S 41 E Superior - Cheddar burger and chili/cheddar fries

MARC BURGER 111 N State (7th floor Macy's) - Marc burger and shoestring onions

DOC B'S 100 E Walton - Wedge burger and fries

DEUCES AND DIAMONDS CLUB 3505 N Clark - Rodeo burger and fries

 

Epic burger with bacon, fried egg, a side of fries and washed down with Mountain Dew

 

I would be remiss if I failed to mention a couple of small local chains that offer a great alternative to the national fast food hamburger chains.

 

EPIC BURGER began in the University Center on State and Congress and has quickly grown to seven locations in Chicago and Skokie. Their motto is "A more mindful burger". Okay, they're tasty but limited. I always get the double Epic with bacon and fried egg, fries and their very good chocolate shake for about $17.

 

M-BURGER was conceived sometime between the time Gale Gand was pastry chef and co-owner of Tru and when she left. The room where the restaurant hosted the chef's table was rarely used (I guess there weren't enough dinner parties of four to shell out $1000 for a fabulous meal) so it was converted into a mostly carryout burger closet - and this place is small. There are a couple of courtesy stools and a counter, but the majority of the seating is outside - obviously in the winter that's not viable either. But the burgers are simple, affordable and very tasty. I always get the double M Burger with bacon, fries and their very good shake for about $13. Sometimes I've ordered off their not-so-secret-secret menu and gotten the barnyard burger and cheese fries for a few bucks more. Either place I'll take over the invaders from the east Shake Shack and Five Guys. Any day!

 

The gourmet burger scene is alive and well and residing in Chicago. It seems like every restaurant is putting out a gourmet burger from Lawry's Side Door mansion Burger teeming with prime rib and bacon ($19) to Lux Bar's gourmet burger served with a split

of champagne ($50). It's a great time to be a burger lover!

 

GEOFF BURTON is a leisure living journalist for CinemaTrek and several foreign market publications. He has authored The Definitive Guide to Best Steakhouses in Chicago, Sweet Trips are Made of Chocolate, Spirited Travel: Cognac, Spirited Travel: Texas Wine Country, Spirited Travel: Northwest Michigan's Wine Trail and several other food, wine and dining guides.

 

GEOFF BURTON

 

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