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Mott St.
Photograph: Nicholas James Mott St.

The 25 best burgers in Chicago

From diner-style classics and loaded cheeseburgers to over-the-top creations, these are the best burgers in Chicago

By Morgan Olsen

Tourists believe that Chicago is known for its deep dish pizza and hot dog restaurants, but locals know the truth: We're a burger town. You'd be hard-pressed to find a menu within city limits that doesn't feature a burger, whether it's a fine dining establishment or one of the busiest Wrigleyville bars. The best burgers in Chicago are messy and piled high with indulgent toppings, like caramelized onions, thick-cut bacon and ooey-gooey cheese. Whether you like your patties thin and griddled or you prefer a thick, juicy hunk of meat, there's something on the list of the best burgers in Chicago for every carnivore. Prepare to drool: These are the 26 best burgers in Chicago.

RECOMMENDED: Check out more of the best restaurants in Chicago

Best of the city under one roof

Mini Mott
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

Mini Mott - Time Out Market Chicago

Restaurants West Loop

Only in Chicago could a burger be so good that it deserved its own eatery. The story of Mini Mott's signature dish began in 2016, when the patty at parent spot Mott St was recognized as one of the nation's best. At the time, the burger was available only at the restaurant's tiny bar. Mini Mott was born to supply the demand, turning out juicy patties layered with melted American cheese, hoisin aioli, pickled jalapenos, miso butter, pickles, sautéed onions and a cloud of sweet-potato frizzles. Now you can snag the delicious stack at a third location: Time Out Market Chicago.

Best burgers in Chicago

loyalist, burger, cheeseburger, the loyalist
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

1. The Loyalist Cheeseburger at the Loyalist

Bars Cocktail bars West Loop

This dark, sexy basement bar offers everything from foie gras eclairs to mussels in escargot butter, but the cheeseburger is what keeps us coming back again and again. In fact, we consider it the best in town. The patty is perched atop a squishy sesame seed-studded bun with American cheese, pickles and a mess of onions. Once you demolish this burger, your only regret will be not ordering a second.

Photograph: Ben Macri

2. Single Cheeseburger at The Region

Restaurants Hamburgers Portage Park

Channeling old-school burger joints in Northwest Indiana, the Region is known for its smash burger, with an iconic, lacey-edged patty that extends well past the bun. Every inch of crispy beef is dressed with American cheese, mayo-based Region sauce, bright green relish and onion. It's the only burger that's ever made us want to travel to Indiana.

Red Hot Ranch's special burger. Two thin burger patties with cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions and their special sauce. Get it at their new location in Lakeview: 3055 N Ashland Ave.
Photograph: Hannah Bourne

3. RHR Double Cheeseburger Red Hot Ranch Lakeview

Restaurants Hot dogs Lake View

The second location of the late-night hot dog and fried shrimp joint is a little glitzier (televisions, seats), but the most important difference is that it was the first of the two Red Hot Ranch restaurants to offer burgers: thin, griddled patties with perfectly melted cheese, LTO and special sauce. With fries, the double cheeseburger is less than $6, which also makes it an awesome deal.

au cheval, burger, battle of the burger
Photograph: Kevin J. Miyazaki

4. Single Cheeseburger at Au Cheval

Restaurants Contemporary American West Loop

We know, we know. You have a love-hate relationship with Au Cheval. The West Loop spot is known for its award-winning double-decker burger and its hours-long wait. Truthfully, a trip to Au Cheval is an ordeal, but that won't stop us from commending its signature dish. Whether you order a single (two patties) or a double (three), the meat here is topped with Kraft singles, Dijonnaise and house-made pickles. If the wait left you ravenous, opt to add a fried egg, bacon or foie gras.

Mini Mott, Mott, Burger, Wings, logan square
Photograph: Morgan Olsen

5. Original at Mini Mott

Restaurants Logan Square

Spawning as an offshoot of Mott St. (No. 2 on the list), Mini Mott specializes in burgers and other fast-casual handhelds. Order the Original, with two patties, melty American cheese, hoisin aioli, pickled jalapeños, pickles, miso butter, sautéed onions and a cloud of sweet potato frizzles. Your fingers will be coated with umami flavors by the time it’s all over, and you’ll hardly notice yourself licking them clean.
Photograph: Erica Gannett

6. Burger at Owen & Engine

Restaurants British Logan Square

You'll cruise the menu at Owen & Engine, considering the cavatelli with crumbly Italian sausage and kale or the bangers and mash with cider onion gravy—but we both know that you're here for the burger. Topped with a nest of caramelized onions and served with malt vinegar mayo and house fries, this patty is crafted with a rich blend of chuck, short rib and brisket, making it lightyears better than its fast-food counterparts.

acadia, jaclyn rivas
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

7. Acadia Burger at Acadia

Restaurants Contemporary American Near South Side

This two-Michelin-starred South Loop kitchen is known for its pricey tasting menu, but insiders know that you can saddle up at the bar for a damn fine burger that's just $15. The thick, pink patty is topped with smoky bacon-onion jam, truffle mornay and molten gruyere. It's a mélange of rich, creamy, salty and savory that's best enjoyed on the restaurant's small sidewalk patio come summertime.

Double Cheeseburger at Community Tavern;
Photograph: Martha Williams

8. Double Cheeseburger at Community Tavern

Restaurants Steakhouse Portage Park

Meat lovers, this one's for you. Two colossal, cheese-topped patties take center stage, completely outweighing the sturdy but soft bun they're housed within. Pickles and caramelized onions put in work to add a touch of brightness to every bite, but they're no match for the beef. If you're all about the toppings, skip ahead.


9. Signature Swill Burger at the Swill Inn

Bars Gastropubs River West/West Town

The secret to this double-patty burger is creamy, house-made pimento cheese that's studded with juicy jalapeños bits. Fair warning: Your fingers will be covered in the stuff by the time you're done. Chef and co-owner Lamar Moore adds more American cheese to the mix (for good measure, of course) before cutting all that fatty goodness with crisp house pickles. It's all piled inside a pillowy brioche bun from Chicago's Turano Kakery.

Little Bad Wolf
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

10. Wolf Burger at Little Bad Wolf

Restaurants Contemporary American Andersonville

Should you ever find yourself in a situation where you want to blow a week's worth of calories in one sitting, grab a seat at Little Bad Wolf in Andersonville and order the Wolf Burger with a side of mac and cheese. This delicious monstrosity includes three patties, fat strips of bacon, molten American cheese, onion straws, house-made pickles, a swath of mayo and a fried egg crown. An oak aged Manhattan should wash it all down nicely.

BDK Burger at Blue Door Kitchen & Garden
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

11. BDK Burger at Blue Door Kitchen & Garden

Restaurants American Rush & Division

The reigning champ of Time Out Chicago's Battle of the Burger, the BDK Burger at Blue Door Kitchen & Garden is simple and expertly crafted. Two thin patties are glued together with cheddar and topped with tangy pickles and a swath of garlic aioli. The whole thing is cushioned by a perfectly toasted brioche bun that practically melts in your mouth.

Photograph: Anthony Tahlier

12. Bad Hunter Burger at Bad Hunter

Restaurants Vegetarian West Loop

As the only vegetarian option on this list, the namesake burger at Bad Hunter in the West Loop has some seriously big shoes (er, buns?) to fill. You won't miss red meat when you sink your teeth into the moist but solid black bean patties, which are layered with cheddar, tomato jam, onion and lettuce. Carnivores, be forewarned: You might consider going meat-free after trying this burger.

Photograph: Courtesy Small Cheval

13. Cheeseburger at Small Cheval

Restaurants Hamburgers Wicker Park

As the name implies, this an offshoot of Au Cheval (No. 5 on this list), and the menu is inspired by the restaurant’s most famous item—the cheeseburger. This isn’t the exact same burger, but enumerating the differences feels like splitting hairs. It’s a little smaller and a bit cheaper. You can add bacon (it’s thinner than at Au Cheval), and lettuce and tomato, though the burger doesn’t need them. The super-thin patties themselves don’t add much flavor, but the perfectly melted cheese, Dijon, onion, pickles and puffy bun add up to a delicious combination.

Photograph: Courtesy Kuma's Corner

14. Slayer at Kuma’s Corner

Restaurants Hamburgers Avondale

The servers at Kuma's original Avondale location sport more ink than a Bic factory, and the metal is often cranked up so loud you can’t hear yourself talking, but therein lies the charm. Squeeze through the ass-to-elbows crowds and up to the long bar, where you might be in for a lengthy wait. What’s the draw? Well, the Slayer burger, for one—a pile of fries topped with a half-pound burger, chili, cherry peppers, andouille, onions and Jack cheese on a pretzel bun. That, and the extensive menu of craft beers, including plenty of limited edition local brews to get before they’re gone.

Photograph: Tessa Marshall

15. Super Ooey Gooey at Fatso's Last Stand

Restaurants Hot dogs Ukrainian Village

This “last stand” serves Fatso's and Smash burgers to neighborhood regulars and late-night revelers. Open until 4am on Friday and Saturday, the Ukrainian Village outpost is ready and waiting whenever your next patty craving strikes. If you're a hungry newbie, order the Super Ooey Gooey, two Smash patties stuffed with cheddar, bacon and giardiniera and topped with Fatso sauce, tomato, lettuce and onion.

Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

16. Pub Burger at Pleasant House Pub

Restaurants British Lower West Side

Chicago’s resident royal pie baker has a seriously delicious, seriously messy secret: One of the city's best burgers is hiding in plain sight on its menu. The Pub Burger layers two griddled patties with cheddar, bacon aioli and red onions on a brioche bun made in-house. Forget your manners and dig in.


17. 8-ounce Char Burger at Edzo’s Burger Shop

Restaurants Hamburgers Evanston

Uncommonly thick Nutella shakes, fries with truffle salt—where does the low-brow end and high-end begin at Eddie Lakin’s burger shop? The answer is that it’s intertwined, because the most crucial, highfalutin things Lakin does—grinding his own meat and hand-cutting the potatoes for his fries—pervade almost every dish. The burgers actually taste beefy, and the fries are textbook examples in frying. So while we’re happy Lakin took those surly, greasy Vienna shops as his inspiration, we’re equally stoked he chose not to follow their practices.

Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

18. Allis Cheeseburger at The Allis

Restaurants Cafés West Loop

There are so many delicate, carb-free plates on the menu at this public-facing restaurant inside Soho House Chicago, but the burger is not one of them. This refined all-American patty is simple yet effective: beef, bacon, tomato and lettuce. The combination hits all the right notes and can be paired with a craft beer as easily as it can sing alongside a flute of bubbly.

Royale with Cheese at Pub Royale
Photograph: Christina Slaton

19. Royale w/Cheese at Pub Royale

Bars Pubs Ukrainian Village

A burger at an Indian restaurant? Go with us on this one. Pub Royale's namesake handheld is fantastic, despite the fact that it sticks out like a sore thumb on the menu. Doubts are quickly dashed when this juicy hunk of meat arrives at your table coated with oozy aged cheddar and aioli and topped with spicy pickles and diced onions.

Burger at Forbidden Root
Photograph: BJ Pichman

20. Burger at Forbidden Root

Bars Breweries East Village

Topped with aged cheddar, a hefty helping of crunchy giardiniera mayo and bread and butter pickles, the burger at Forbidden Root is unique but familiar. Pair it with the delicate Wildflower Pale Ale, which is crafted with elderflower, marigold and sweet osmanthus blooms.

Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

21. Haus Burger at Boeufhaus

Restaurants Steakhouse Ukrainian Village

Exclusively available on the lunch menu, Boeufhaus's burger is worth venturing out for in the daylight. The kitchen uses a house-made blend of strip, hanger and tenderloin to create an extraordinarily decadent ground beef. Each patty is grilled to perfection before it's topped with frisee, onion and pickle and served with a pile of equally outstanding beef fat fries.

Good Stuff Eatery
Photograph: Joe Shymanski

22. Prez Obama at Good Stuff Eatery

Restaurants Hamburgers Loop

When D.C. Top Chef alum Spike Mendelsohn opened the first Chicago outpost of his casual burger joint, he airlifted the menu straight from D.C. That explains the name of the Prez Obama burger, which hits all the right notes and textures, from sweet onion marmalade to salty bacon to sharp Roquefort and pungent horseradish mayo. Order fries so you can make a trip to the mayo bar for sriracha mayo, and don't leave without trying the creamy, gooey toasted marshmallow milkshake.

Dusek's Juicy Lucy Burger
Photograph: Ashleigh Dye

23. Juicy Lucy at Dusek's Board and Beer

Bars Gastropubs Lower West Side

We're not totally sure why the Juicy Lucy hasn't caught on at more Chicago restaurants. Rather than sitting on top of the patty, cheese is stuffed inside the meat for an ooey-gooey surprise. The version at Dusek's is balanced with smoky red onion-bacon marmalade, crisp butter lettuce and preserved tomatoes.

Photograph: Jessica Lynn Capron

24. OIB Burger at Old Irving Brewing Company

Bars Breweries Portage Park

Most breweries aren't exactly known for their food, but the kitchen at Old Irving Brewing Company proves that sustenance is just as important as the suds. Negating the double-patty formula of its competitors, the OIB Burger features a stacked 8-ounce hunk of beef that's tucked inside a rosemary bun and blanketed in white cheddar, caramelized onions and aioli. It's the kind of thing you'll crave after gulping down a flight of beer.


25. Top Notch Beefburger

Restaurants Hamburgers Beverly

The Beverly neighborhood has a relaxed small-town-in-1965 feel, and one of the contributing reasons is this dose of Americana, both old enough and friendly enough to be your grandmother. The namesake burger is old-school minimalist, a deeply satisfying quarter-pound patty of fresh ground round sauteed in its own juices and served with the simplest toppings—grilled onions and ketchup-mustard-pickle on a feather-light bun. Just as good are the fresh-cut fries, cooked in beef tallow, and as long as you’re dining as if it’s 1965, finish up with a thick chocolate shake.

Best burger restaurants in America


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