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The Bad Apple

Restaurants, Hamburgers North Center
2 out of 5 stars
5 out of 5 stars
(18user reviews)
Photograph: Danielle Schon The Bad Apple

Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars

The Bad Apple, a new corner pub and grill in Lincoln Square, advertises that it proudly serves burgers made from Pat La Frieda beef. If you just thought, “Who the hell is that?” you’re not alone. During my two visits, I overheard a half-dozen people ask the same question. New York foodies are likely the only ones to know the answer—Pat La Frieda is a wholesale butcher that’s been operating out of Manhattan for nearly a century, only recently coming into vogue thanks to customers like Shake Shack and Little Owl. I don’t doubt that the company puts out a good product (I’ve enjoyed a couple of Shake Shack burgers, but liked the fries more). But remove the name from the Bad Apple’s menu and I doubt anyone would associate the burger with the seal of excellence implied by the La Frieda reference.

And it’s not the kitchen’s fault: The burgers were cooked medium-rare, as ordered. The issue lies with the somewhat bland beef and the lack of juice (clearly a result of an overly lean meat-to-fat ratio). Without the bells and whistles of the various toppings, the burger just wasn’t impressive. Likewise, a “beer-can chicken” sandwich, a chickpea salad and a starter of house-cured salmon were serviceable but not memorable. (The skin-on fries, crisped to a deep brown and liberally salted, were the sole standout.) Couple this with a far from cozy room, and it’s tough figuring out why the place was packed each night. Owners Craig Fass and Mandy Franklin have accumulated a loyal following via their former haunts Menagerie and Cooper’s, and the Bad Apple’s craft beer list and infused-vodka lineup are admirable. Still, it just doesn’t register as a badass-burger destination, no matter who’s behind the grind.

By Heather Shouse. Photographs by Lindsaay Gallup.



Address: 4300 N Lincoln Ave
Cross street: at Cullom Ave
Transport: El stop: Brown to Montrose. Bus: 11, 50, 78.
Price: Average main course: $10
Opening hours: Mon-Wed 4:30pm-2am; Thurs, Fri 11:30am-2am; Sat 11:30am-3am; Sun 11:30am-2am
Do you own this business?

Users say (18)

5 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

4.9 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:17
  • 4 star:0
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
1 person listening

Not sure why it got two stars but I love this place. Great service first of all! And second, they have good food and amazing drinks. Also, the crowd was busy enough to give it a cool vibe but not too crowded. My friends and I were planning to come back and make it our regular go to casual neighborhood restaurant.

There is absolutely nothing BAD about this apple! I came across this place after hunting down restaurants that served cheese curds. Craving satisfied. Their menu and drinks did not disappoint.

Time out's review is garbage. This is my favorite burger joint in the city, for the all inclusive experience. Great music, fantastic service, every time, awesome artwork, and the burgers are amazing. For context, I've worked in the restaurant (note, not fast food) industry for 10 years. I know good food. Apparently the writer for this time out review does not.

What can I say. The apple doesn't fall far from the bad ass burger tree. Adam and Even couldn't have resisted this apple

Not sure what the reviewer in this article was smoking, but BA's burgers are in fact packed with flavor.

Best neighborhood bar in town. The staff is knowledgable and courteous without being overbearing. The burgers change out seasonally and are priced to perfection.

Best burgers ever...even better than that other famous burger place that starts with a K...yes, I said it!

I am owner of Rev. Billy's Chop Shop which is just down the way from Bad Apple...Bad Apple has become our go to after a long day to kick back!! The food is always great, awesome selection of beer, & the staff is rad!! If you haven't been....GO!

Burgers are DELICIOUS, menu items are always fresh and changing, they are excellent for kids, have great drinks, and the staff is so friendly. What's not to love? Oh, and I almost forgot, the best thing about this place is the homemade ketchup!

Definitely one of, if not the best, burgers in between Irving Park and Montrose on Lincoln Ave.

Great beer list but best is the delicious selection of burgers. Fun spot with great service and a nice outdoor patio to enjoy in the summer.


Bad Apple--we stopped here after an event to grab some food.  Service is interesting because the staff rotate around to just help whoever.  You aren't assigned a dedicated person which is good and bad. Bad--you can't pinpoint who forgot the chocolate mousse you wanted.  Good: People are floating by and asking if you need help.  My burger was a ok. It was a caprese burger.  Nothing fantastic but it could have been the one I picked or maybe I liked veggie burgers better.  I would think about coming back if I didn't know anything in the area but it isn't going to draw me north just to go there.

This place has either come a LONG way since Time Out's review or Time Out really just missed something. The burgers are always juicy, cooked perfectly and, in fact, I can hardly stand to eat a burger anywhere else in this city because they just can't stand up to The Bad Apple. I heard they get their own special blend of beef from famed east coast meat man Pat LaFreida, which would explain why no other burger really does it for me. When Im feeling fancy I like to get the house-cured meat and cheese board. When I've had a rough day, The Bad Apple burger and an old fashioned always bring me back to zen. Also, if you're into beer bibles, this is the place to be. Ive found beers here that were next to impossible to find anywhere else. And when I don't feel like rifling through the list, the staff are always ready with a spot on recommendation. Basically, if you like great beer and food that is made with love and care, I highly recommend a trip to this spot.