Focusing on a single menu item is risky. If it’s great, then the restaurant is glorious. If it’s not, there’s no point in returning. But what happens when everything is right except that main dish? That’s the question I’m trying to answer about Parts & Labor.
A new Logan Square spot from the Boiler Room, Parts & Labor offers a $5 double cheeseburger, topped with pickles, mayo, lettuce and onion. There’s also a black bean patty available. Ketchup is on the counter. The burgers can be turned into $10 combos with the addition of a fried side (pickles, onion rings, fries or giardiniera) or salad, and a beer or shot (there’s a small beer selection and three taps dispensing Fernet-Branca; like Boiler Room, Parts & Labor is cash only, and showing your receipt from the on-site ATM will net you a free Fernet shot).
I appreciate the simplicity of the premise, which is a nod to owner Russ Grant’s family’s business, Grant's Wonderburger Grill, an old-school diner in Mount Greenwood. You’d think that would give the Parts & Labor burger some cred, but it doesn’t. The patty, made with beef and pork, is griddled, but there’s no char, no salt and no meaty flavor. The vegetables and cheese were all I could taste, and I gave up halfway through to focus on the other offerings—namely, a pile of big, tangy pieces of fried giardiniera, which comes with sriracha mayo. It’s spicy and there’s an ideal balance between coating and vegetable. The dessert menu takes a carnival route, with fried Twinkies and two floats—root beer and Green River, a Midwestern soda I hadn’t had before.
“It tastes like the color green,” the bartender said, and poured me a sample. The lime soda didn’t do much for me, so I went with a root beer float, which the bartender encouraged me to get with a shot of Fernet-Branca. The amaro adds some bitterness and depth and it’s a welcome upgrade to the float.
The restaurant itself is also welcoming—everyone is so friendly, and the industrial vibe, with ladders lining the back of the bar and wooden furniture, makes it a comfortable place to hang out. I just wish Parts & Labor was a place I wanted to hang out in again.
|Venue name:||Parts & Labor (CLOSED)||Contact:|
2700 N Milwaukee Ave
|Opening hours:||Mon-Fri 4pm-2am; Sat noon-3am; Sunday noon-2am|
|Transport:||El stop: Blue to Logan Square. Bus: 56, 76.|
|Do you own this business?|
Average User Rating
2.8 / 5
- 5 star:0
- 4 star:0
- 3 star:4
- 2 star:1
- 1 star:0
Is it the best burger in the city of Chicago? No. Will everyone in your group remember to stop at an ATM before you get there because it's cash only? No. Is it worth dropping in for a cheap bite if you're in the neighborhood? Yes.
Parts and Labor offers a pretty simple menu: here's a cheeseburger with the standard toppings (but you have to ask to add tomatoes), some curly fries and a beer for $11. Or, if you're like me, you'll forgo the beer entirely when you spot Green River on the menu and take that instead.
The vibe of the place is fun, with movies like Mean Girls being shown throughout, some funky art on the walls and a custom decorated booth to match. The desserts written artfully up o the chalkboard sound delicious, but I've always been too stuffed to try one at the end of my meal.
It's also worth noting that I marched a group of ten people in here on a Saturday afternoon a few months back and they barely batted an eye before sitting us around one of the large tables. In most places, that would be a wait for a few smaller tables to open up and then be arranged together to accommodate us.
It's worth stopping in if you stumble across it, but don't make a trip out of it.
There are far better burgers to be found in Logan Square, but it's hard to beat the value of Parts and Labor's $11 burger, fries and beer combo. There's usually an interesting movie playing on multiple screens and some sort of drink special. There's a patio where you can relax when the weather is warm and a weekly Monday night trivia competition with killer prizes.
It's fun to stop by occasionally for a beer on the way home from the train, but I tend to not eat much off the menu. The food is average at best, but they have lots of fun events and the beer selection is pretty good.
I prefer the black bean burger over the meat option but my favorite thing on the menu is their fried giardiniera, it's a little bit sour and spicy and a great thing to split with friends. Get a Green River float (a classic) or go with the combo and get a burger, fries and beer or shot. The fried pepper jack cheese is also delicious. Huge space and nice patio.