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The best burgers at non-burger restaurants

These burgers aren't at burger joints or diners—find cheffy spins on burgers at these Chicago restaurants and bars

Photograph: Kari Skaflen
Au Cheval serves one of the best burgers in Chicago.

When it comes to burgers, you're forgiven for thinking you need to head to burger joints or diners for the best ones. Sure, those spots do great patties, but you'll also find some excellent burgers at Chicago restaurants.

RECOMMENDED: Best burgers in Chicago

Best burgers at non-burger restaurants

Acadia

Critics' pick

Acadia burger
With three cuts of beef (chuck as the base, brisket for juiciness, Wagyu scraps for fat), two types of cheese (Gruyère, Mornay sauce) and a bottomless reserve of umami (bacon-onion jam, housemade pickles), it's clear this burger has been obsessed over by chef Ryan McCaskey. All those delicious details are what make diners obsess over it, too. $14.—David Tamarkin

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South Loop

Au Cheval

Critics' pick

Cheeseburger
The two thin patties (a "single" is really a double here) aren't the star of this much-obsessed-over burger. Instead it's the generous schmear of mayo, the melted American cheese and the chopped raw onions that cut through the beef with a piquant bite. $10.95.—David Tamarkin

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West Loop

Big Jones

Pimiento cheeseburger
The steamed bun prevents the mess of two thin, juicy patties slathered with creamy, spicy housemade pimiento cheese and a heap of griddled onions from dripping onto your plate. You don't want even a morsel of this burger to go anywhere but in your mouth. $13.—Laura Baginski

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Andersonville

Blackbird

Critics' pick

Short-rib burger
The two-inch-thick patty made with short rib from deli/butcher Publican Quality Meats is the star: The meat is velvety, juicy, and, true to its origins, screams quality. Toppings change often, but on my visit, mimolette "Velveeta" takes a back seat to pickled ramps and beef-cheek jam, all on a sesame brioche bun. $15.—Laura Baginski

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West Loop

Bread & Wine

Beef and chorizo burger
Technically, this is a double-patty burger: The beef is topped with a smaller patty of chorizo, which gives the dish its deeply savory edge. The crowning jewel is the Cedar Grove cheddar, a sharp choice that could be the best cheese used on any burger in the city. $18.—David Tamarkin

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Irving Park

Café des Architectes

Critics' pick

CDA burger
The well-seasoned patty on this guy feels smaller than its ten ounces. This makes the smoky bacon, tangy Boursin aioli, crispy fried onions and pretzel bun (from Morton Grove's Z Baking) perfect accompaniments, rather than overkill. $16.—Julia Kramer

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Gold Coast

Mindy's HotChocolate

Critics' pick

Hamburger
The house-ground Heartland beef burger arrives expertly cooked, christened with a cross of crispy bacon and a melting slice of aged cheddar tucked under a toasted garlic bun. Give it a few squirts of housemade ketchup and mustard, then layer on the housemade pickles. $14.—Lauren Viera

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Wicker Park

Nightwood

The Nightwood cheeseburger
The new iteration of this wood-grilled burger is a tall, two-patty affair layered with pickles, "special sauce" (a garlicky combo of mayo and ketchup), cheddar sauce and an onion ring. The bun is ciabatta, which is a good thing—brioche would crumble under all this weight. $16.—David Tamarkin

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Pilsen

Old Town Social

Critics' pick

OTS
Maybe it's because the quality of the meat is so good—half cows from Q7 Ranch in Marengo, Illinois, are broken down, aged and ground in-house—but chef Jared Van Camp works to make this burger's meatiness shine, topping it with equally savory toppings: housemade bacon, a fried egg, aioli and Gruyère. $13.—David Tamarkin

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Old Town

Owen & Engine

Critics' pick

Slagel Farm burger
When this behemoth on an onion-studded potato bun hits your table, you'll vow to bring half home. Then you'll take one bite and realize no one has that kind of willpower. Beef this velvety is thanks to the fat in the blend—chuck with short rib and brisket. Wear stretchy pants. $15.—Marissa Conrad

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Logan Square
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