This is the Midwest – meat and potatoes are kind of a “thing” here. Burgers and fries? Just a variation on a theme. Chicagoans like their burgers, be they thin, greasy and perfect for curing last night’s hangover; big, bold and juicy; or all dolled up with the classiest of ingredients. No matter how you like your burger, here are some of the best spots in Chicago to get your meat fix.
The mac daddy of all burger joints, Kuma’s is known for the long waits, heavy metal music blasting from the speakers, and of course, phenomenal burgers. Try the signature Kuma burger, topped with bacon, cheddar and a fried egg, or get fancy with toppings like smoked gouda, pancetta, roasted poblano peppers, goat cheese, garlic mayo, brie, or bourbon soaked pears. Burgers are about $10 each and the craft beer list offers plenty of options.
M Burger isn’t fancy. There’s only a limited selection of options- hamburger, cheeseburger, M burger in single and double – and only counter service is available. But the location off Michigan Avenue and the low prices (ranging from $2.50-$4.50) make it a great option for a cheap and easy lunch downtown.
Stella’s (3042 North Broadway, just south of Broadway) is what it is. And what it is, is a simple diner, serving good, hearty food at reasonable prices. Breakfasts are excellent, but the big crowd-pleasers are the burgers – hand-packed, thick juicy and cooked to order. There’s an extensive menu of desserts and milkshakes, or bring in your own sixer of beer.
When the chef at one of Chicago’s best restaurants (Michael Kornick of MK) teams up with David Morton (of Morton’s The Steakhouse – this guy knows beef) to open a burger bar, you know it’s going to be good. And DMK isn’t just good, it’s one of the best burger places in the city. All burgers are $8 and come with toppings like aged cheddar, smoked bacon, fried eggs, and marinated portobello mushrooms. Sides include mac n cheese and fries with various toppings – try the fries with truffle cream sauce. There’s a long list of local and international beers to complement the meat.
Rockit may win the award for fanciest burger in Chicago. The $19 Rockit Burger is made of kobe beef and topped with melted brie, fried shallots, and medjool date aioli on a red onion brioche bun, served with truffle fries. Of course, for those who prefer a more basic variety, prices range from $11-$14. Other bar and grill faves like spinach dip, crabcakes, and sauteed srimp are available. The Sunday Bloody Mary bar is particularly popular.
Trendy newcomer Burger Bar is quickly gaining buzz for its excellent burgers, including turkey, veggie, tuna and chicken varieties, and extensive menu of hand-spun shakes in flavors like malted milk ball, cheesecake, and banana nutella. The long list of craft beers is a hit as well.
Billy Goat Tavern
Truth be told, most people eat at the Billy Goat Tavern more for the nostalgia for the Saturday Night Live Skit (cheeseborger, cheeseborger!) than because the burgers are really great. They’re not terrible, and the price is certainly right, but these thin, greasy burgers in no way represent the best the city has to offer.
When the chain burger joint, The Counter first opened there was so much buzz you’d think people were expecting the second coming. Now that the hoopla has settled, The Counter has hit its stride as a solid build-your-own burger bar in Lincoln Park. I wouldn’t go out of my way for a bite, but if you’re in the area it’s a great spot for those who want total control of their burger options.