The 18 best new burgers

It's been an epic year for burgers in Chicago. From thin griddled patties to cheesy Juicy Lucys, here are our 18 new favorites.

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  • Photograph: Martha Williams

    Burger at A10

  • Photograph: Martha Williams

    Burger at Acadia

  • Photograph: Martha Williams

    Burger at Commonwealth

  • Photograph: Jason Little

    Wood-grilled Burger at The Dawson

  • Photograph: Anthony Tahlier

    Burger at DryHop Brewers

  • Photograph: Ashleigh Dye

    Juicy Lucy at Dusek's Board & Beer

  • Photograph: Eric Kleinberg

    Burger at Fairways

  • Photograph: Jason Little

    Kimchi Burger at Howells & Hood

  • Photograph: Erica Gannett

    Leadbelly burger and garlic Parmesan fries at Leadbelly

  • Photograph: Jason Little

    Pimento cheeseburger at Lillie's Q

  • Thai burger at Public House

  • Photograph: Hannah Bourne

    Red Hot Ranch burger

  • Photograph: Courtesy You Me Us Now

    Burger at Scofflaw

  • Photograph: Martha Williams

    Burger at Side Door

  • Photograph: Martha Williams

    WTF (Wow That's Fiery!) burger at Spritzburger

  • Photographer: Eugene (Huge) Galdones

    Burger at Terzo Piano

  • Photograph: Martha Williams

    Torta de hamburguesa at Topolobampo

  • Photo: Jason Little

    Burger at Travelle

Photograph: Martha Williams

Burger at A10

Last spring, we named the 18 best burgers in Chicago, but since then, dozens of new burgers have emerged. Some restaurants, such as Acadia, have revamped their burgers (and this was even after we named it the best burger in Chicago), while others, like Dusek's and SideDoor, opened with burgers on their menu. But the new burgers aren't all chef-y versions—late-night drunk-food favorite Red Hot Ranch opened a new location on Ashland with a griddled burger dripping with special sauce.


RECOMMENDED: Best burger restaurants


We've eaten dozens of burgers over the past couple months to narrow down the list to our 18 new favorites. From an unexpected burger at a high-end Mexican restaurant to an In-N-Out–style burger at one of our favorite bars, here are the 18 burgers you should be eating now.


A10

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

Burger
A10 straddles the line between French and Italian cuisines, and the burger matches, with salty slices of pork jowl bacon, melted taleggio, pickles and a tangy mustard jam that's a genius condiment. The whole thing is served on a pillowy brioche bun and it comes with a side of excellent frites and espelette aioli. The sole downside? It’s only available for lunch.—Amy Cavanaugh

  1. 1462 E 53rd St
Book online

Acadia

  • Rated as: 3/5
  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

Burger
Ryan McCaskey’s burger was our overall favorite last year, and his brand new patty has proven the chef is a burger master. He replaced the single patty with a double (two patties means more surface area and more cheese), and then added double crème Gouda, a generous amount of special sauce, housemade bacon and garlic dill pickles. The result is another epic burger: cheesy, buttery and oh-so-perfect.—AC

  1. 1639 S Wabash Ave
Book online

Commonwealth Tavern

  • Price band: 2/4

Cheeseburger
Commonwealth, the gastropub Roscoe Village didn’t know it needed, serves a very simple burger—a half-pound patty, Hooks cheddar, bacon, housemade pickles, brioche bun. The fact that it’s perfectly executed and so delicious it’s worth a trip across town to get your hands on it is a credit to chef Kevin Church, former chef de cuisine at Owen & Engine. Do yourself a favor and get the margarita, too.—Laura Baginski

  1. 2000 W Roscoe St
More info

The Dawson

  • Rated as: 3/5
  • Price band: 2/4

Wood-grilled burger
Smoked bacon and fried pickles top this perfectly seasoned patty, but the real magic comes when two year–aged cheddar melts into bourbon-glazed onions, creating a true special sauce.—Martha Williams

  1. 730 W Grand Ave
Book online

DryHop Brewers

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Burger
DryHop got a new chef earlier this year, but thankfully the burger has remained the same: The brisket and sirloin patty is spread with ancho chile–tomato jam and creamy raw milk cheddar, with pickled onions to cut through the fat and arugula to lighten things up a bit. This is one balanced, beautiful burger.—AC

  1. 3155 N Broadway
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Dusek's Board and Beer

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Juicy Lucy
Invented in Minneapolis, the Juicy Lucy is a burger for anyone who prefers their cheese encased in beef instead of melted on top. The Dusek’s version stuffs American cheese into a Slagel Farm patty and tops it with butter lettuce and preserved tomatoes. The best addition to the burger is a red onion and bacon marmalade, which gives each bite a smoky-yet-sweet flavor. It’s served with a heaping portion of duck fat fries that you can dig into while you wait for the burger’s molten cheese core to cool.​—Zach Long

  1. 1227 W 18th St
More info

Fairways

  • Price band: 2/4

Burger
I love a burger straight off the grill, and Fairways tastes like a smoky backyard burger that's been elevated with melted white cheddar, crispy onions and a delicious tomato jam that adds some sweetness. You’ll get a choice of frites, chips or salad on the side—the frites, cooked in duck fat and with a shake of truffle salt, is the only answer.—AC

  1. 1141 W Armitage Ave
More info

Howells & Hood

  • Price band: 2/4

Kimchi burger
Cultures collide to make this burger great: Kimchi (Korean) provides the acidic bite, pickle aioli (French) offers creaminess, Gouda (Dutch) lends it a gooey, smoky flavor and the patty (we’re gonna go with American) is perfectly cooked. Hooray for globalization.—LB

  1. 435 N Michigan Ave
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Leadbelly

  • Price band: 1/4

Burger
There are many tempting options on this Portage Park burger joint’s menu, including sandwiches topped with crab cakes, Polish sausage and chili cheese Fritos. Frankly, you’re better off ordering the basic Leadbelly burger—it’s a simple cheeseburger that allows you to enjoy the patty’s flavorful blend of ground chuck and smoked pork belly without being distracted by decadent toppings. The burger is served with housemade sriracha pickles and your choice of cheese on a hearty sesame seed bun that’s baked in-house. Every sandwich comes with a complimentary butter cookie, so make sure to save some room for dessert.​—ZL

  1. 5739 W Irving Park Rd
More info

Lillie's Q

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Pimento cheeseburger
The new pimento cheeseburger was first offered as a secret menu item at Lillie’s Q, but now it’s been added—rightfully—to the menu. Two patties are topped with tangy pimento cheese, collard greens, red onions, tomato and a swipe of chow-chow sauce. Is it a mess? Yes. Is it worth getting it all over your hands and maybe your shirt? Absolutely.—AC

 

  1. 1856 W North Ave
More info

Public House

  • Price band: 2/4

Monthly special burger
This River North gastropub spices up your Tuesday lunch routine with a fantastic deal we’d usually reserve for the weekend: a burger, fries and a beer pairing for $10. The burger changes monthly; we tried April’s Thai burger (an insanely delicious chili-rubbed patty with banana chutney and carrot slaw), which paired nicely with a Hitachino Nest white ale.—LB

  1. 400 N State St
Book online

Red Hot Ranch

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Red Hot Ranch burger
At $4.57 including fries, the double Red Hot Ranch burger is the cheapest option on our list. It’s also one of the best. Only available at the new Ashland location, the burger has two patties that are smashed on the grill until they have lacy, crisp edges. Those are then tucked into a bun with lettuce, tomato, onion, special sauce and pickles. The restaurant is open till 4am during the week and 5am on weekends, so say hello to your new late-night burger.—AC 

  1. 3055 N Ashland Ave
More info

Scofflaw

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Burger
Mickey Neely’s food menu is criminally underrated, so while you’re drinking at Scofflaw, make sure you get the burger as well. For $8, you get a thin patty cooked with mustard and topped with lettuce, tomato and onion, American cheese and pickles, with pickled onions on the side. It’s similar to In-N-Out’s burger, but at In-N-Out, you can’t get cocktails as good as Scofflaw's. We win.—AC

  1. 3201 W Armitage Ave
More info

SideDoor

  • Price band: 2/4

Burger
SideDoor, a new pub located next door to big sibling Lawry’s the Prime Rib, gets props for its cocktail list (including a smoked Negroni), but the burger steals the show. The Angus beef patty is topped with melted cheddar cheese, special sauce, a hefty dose of pickled red onions and a big piece of iceberg lettuce that helps keep it light. But it’s the puffy, crackly brioche bun, sprinkled with Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, that sends this burger over the top.—AC

  1. 100 E Ontario St
More info

SpritzBurger

  • Price band: 2/4

WTF (Wow That’s Fiery!) Burger
When the Hearty Boys relaunched Hearty this winter as SpritzBurger, they added more than a dozen specialty burgers. One of these, the WTF (Wow That’s Fiery!) Burger, stands out. With pepper jack, jalapeno jam and chipotle-lime aioli, it appeals to spice fiends but doesn’t completely overpower the well-seasoned patty. A sprinkling of tortilla chips adds crunch, while the focaccia makes an excellent bun.—AC

  1. 3819 N Broadway
More info

Terzo Piano

  • Rated as: 3/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Burger
More burgers should be topped with raclette, a creamy Swiss/French cheese that melts better than Velveeta. Terzo Piano’s burger has a nice helping of the stuff, plus a garlic aioli that seeps into the delicious patty and pickled zucchini for balance.—LB

 

  1. 159 E Monroe St, Art Institute of Chicago
Book online

Topolobampo

  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

Torta de hamburguesa
Part of the recently revamped lunch menu at Rick Bayless's fine-dining spot, this $19 burger is a juicy blend of ribeye and shortrib topped with chorizo. But wait, it gets more decadent: Melted cheddar coats the whole thing. Somehow, the roasted poblanos add enough acidity to keep this from becoming a gut bomb. It’s pricey, yes, so cut it in half and eat the rest for dinner, if that makes you feel better.—LB

  1. 445 N Clark St
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Travelle

  • Rated as: 2/5
  • Price band: 4/4

Burger
The burger, only available at lunch, is a little sweet from the pickled onions and special sauce, but once I added a shake of salt, everything balanced out. The well-seasoned burger, which has a melted slice of Mahon cheese and two big lettuce leaves, has all the crunch, texture and messy deliciousness you could want.—AC

  1. 330 N Wabash Ave
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