Gone are the days of bone-dry beef and flabby cheese – burgers have gone gourmet, baby! And in this promised land of fast food, Chi-town boasts some of the finest flippers in the bizz. Kick back and pack some protein at these magnificently meaty numbers…
Book well ahead for the posh patties at soft-lit smarty Au Cheval, which plates up its own signature cheeseburger topped with a fried egg, as well as elevated diner fare, draught beer and classic cocktails. Or, failing that, gallop over to casj-retro sibling Small Cheval with its stripped-back selection topped with bacon and all-natural American condiments. Team with patio-side pitchers, shots or shakes and golden fries.
Chicago’s answer to In-N-Out, fast food-style but local-only chain M Burger’s handmade patties include the hipster Hurt Burger with housemade BBQ sauce, pepperjack, pickle and onion, or why not opt for offbeat turkey treat, the Fowl Mouth Burger?
Contempo Cali sensation Umami Burger drops the sixth-sense flavour bomb with truffle, parmesan and tomato-laden beef. Sweet-tooths will savour West Loop’s exclusive Monte Cristo Burger with beef patty, vanilla custard-soaked deep-fried bun, prosciutto, Gruyère fondue, powdered sugar and maple syrup.
Or, for a more sophisty affair, why not pull up a pew at a swish bar, and pair your mouthful with an ace cocktail? Cue the awesome buns at stunning waterside terrace GreenRiver (think Hook’s cheddar, pickles and house sauce, plus ingredient-themed drinks) and chic, patio-toting Eight Bar (down a Highball with Dijonnaise-doused Downstairs Burger with cheese, pickles, red onion and fries) above Maple & Ash.
Heck, even veggies are catered to in this town of gourmet overload. For some ‘veg-forward’ temptation, wholesome eatery Bad Hunter does a brilliant brunch veggie burger with brioche bun, cheddar, tomato jam, onion, mustard and aioli. Just add fries or carrot kohlrabi slaw.
Au Cheval / 800 W Randolph St / West Loop / +1 312 929 4580 / 11am-1am Mon-Sat, 10am-midnight Sun / auchevalchicago.com / & Small Cheval / 1732 N Milwaukee Ave / Wicker Park / 11am-midnight Mon-Sat, 11am-10pm Sun / smallcheval.com
M Burger / 5 W Ontario St / River North / +1 312 428 3548 / 11am-9pm Sun-Thur, until 10pm Fri-Sat / + branches / mburgerchicago.com
Umami Burger / 1480 N Milwaukee Ave / Wicker Park / +1 773 423 2005 / 11am-11pm Sun-Thur, until midnight Fri-Sat / umamiburger.com
Bad Hunter / 802 W Randolph St / West Loop / +1 312 265 1745 / 11am-10.30pm Mon-Thu & Sun, until 11.30pm Fri, from 10am Sat / badhunter.com
GreenRiver / 259 E Erie St / Near North Side / +1 312 337 0101 / lunch daily, dinner Mon-Sat / greenriverchi.com