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Burger Bar

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  • River North
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Time Out says

Who’s scared of a burger? Me. I’m scared of a burger when it’s listed under the heading “urban stackers,” named “Hey Shortay” and touted as featuring short ribs, warm onion and fennel slaw. And when a server informs me that the short ribs are not in the burger but actually on top of them? I’m terrified.

Who’s scared of a burger? Me. I’m scared of a burger when it’s listed under the heading “urban stackers,” named “Hey Shortay” and touted as featuring short ribs, warm onion and fennel slaw. And when a server informs me that the short ribs are not in the burger but actually on top of them? I’m terrified.

But I should have been more scared of the fries. The Shortay may be a stacker, but it’s a pretty manageable portion. And slapping meat on meat? Not a terrible idea, actually. The juices from the ribs and the sweetness of the slaw made for a burger that needed not a single element added to it: no ketchup, no mayo. Not even a pickle.

(Speaking of pickles, here they’re breaded and fried, and they’re pretty good. Much better than those aforementioned scary fries, which arrived warm as if just out of the oil but nevertheless tasted days old.)

Chef John McLean opened Burger Bar (and the pizza restaurant next door, Sono Wood Fired) after many years at Levy Restaurants. With a background in corporate eating and a penchant for calling his eateries “concepts,” it’s fair to assume these places are prototypes. Will there one day be an Urban Burger Bar on every corner? Or at least on the handful of corners that don’t already have “urban” burger joints? Possibly. And Chicago wouldn’t necessarily be worse off if there were. But nor would we be any more urban (this place drips with a suburban brand of trendy), and nor would our cravings for incredible burgers be fully satiated. These are not incredible burgers. They are incredibly decent. All beef burgers can be made with grass-fed beef (for a $3 upcharge), and the refreshing and slightly spicy tuna burger is made with sushi-grade tuna. Nice touches. Still, gourmet this isn’t. So put them on every corner, I say, and let’s have Urban Burger Bar as our city’s official backup plan to cooking and/or finer dining. Now that’s a concept.

The former name of this restaurant was Urban Burger Bar.

By David Tamarkin

Details

Address:
1578 N Clybourn Ave
Chicago
60642
Cross street:
between North Ave and Weed St
Transport:
El stop: Red to North/Clybourn. Bus: 8, 9, 33, 72, 132.
Price:
Average main course: $10
Opening hours:
Lunch, dinner
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