Having already become the bane of belt buckles on both coasts, gourmand fast food phenomenon Umami Burger has now brought its mouth-watering, seam-stretching patties to Chicago, setting up what is slated to be the first of many Midwest outposts in Wicker Park. Founded by Adam Fleischman in 2009, the LA-born burger joint has fast won over crowds and critics alike with its Asian-inspired approach to the classic all-American meal by beefing up the salty-savoury element with the addition of umami-rich ingredients like miso, mushrooms, tomatoes and pecorino cheese.
The minimalist plywood interior blends elements of a pared-back 50s diner, like black leather booths and refectory-style seating, with vibrant anime wall art (a doffed cap to the Japanese scientist who first coined the umami flavour), but the focus is kept firmly on the juicy six-ounce Wagyu patties, which come coated with a house sauce (a lip-smacking concoction of fish oil, seaweed and kelp), sprinkled with porcini dust and cushioned in a soft Portuguese bun. Meanwhile, fixings range from ‘healthy’ (butter lettuce and slow-baked tomato) to decadent (truffle aioli and parmesan crisp) to downright diet-destroying (bacon lardons and salt-smoked onion strings), and arrive with sinful sides of cheddary sweet potato fries and draught ale. Go on, loosen that belt.
1480 N Milwaukee Ave / Wicker Park / +1 773 423 2005 / 11am-midnight Sun-Wed, till 2am Thu-Fri, till 3am Sat / umamiburger.com