The latest dining trends keep Chicago abuzz and the food scene fresh. Here's the heads up on gourmet burgers
WHY IT ROCKS
You don't eat a burger like this every day: bison with fresh goat cheese, pickled red onions and blueberry barbecue sauce. Mouthwatering menus are packed with unique and exotic flavor profiles just like this at burger joints around the city.
WHERE TO GO
- The Bad Apple in North Center
Great beef and great beers give this hangout a top ranking. You get only the best from NYC butcher Pat LaFrieda and strictly all-natural ingredients. Go simple (The Bad Apple Burger with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, provolone), go spicy (The Slow Burn with Belhaven Scottish Stout sautéed spicy chilies) or go crazy (Elvis' Last Supper with bacon and peanut butter) – but just be sure to go!
- Butcher & the Burger in Lincoln Park
On this stretch of female-friendly shopping boutiques and salons lies the "Manliest Burger Spot in America" as recently awarded by Men's Health magazine. The 30-seat counter service eatery is a modern spin on the old-fashioned butcher shop and naturally raises heritage breed pork, goats and steer in nearby Barrington Hills, Illinois. Mix-and-match toppings (i.e. Sonora Desert Chili spices, whole wheat buns, Benton's Tennessee Mountain Smoked Bacon) will please everyone – man or woman.
- DMK Burger Bar in Lakeview
With 7 patty options (grass-fed beef or bison, naturally-raised turkey or Colorado lamb, crispy Portobello, housemade veggie, or even fresh salmon) there is something to try every day of the week. Build those out with a bevy of toppings (onions alone can be had pickled, raw, burnt, charred balsamic, or chili-rubbed and fried) and you've got a year's worth of eating options.
- Grange Hall Burger Bar in West Loop
Bite into the farm-to-table philosophy with grass-fed beef burgers that are hormone- and antibiotics-free. Named in tribute to Midwest family farming, this sprawling, rustic "barn" serves up all sorts of wholesome goodness – think local cheeses, handcut fries, fresh-churned ice cream and homemade pies.
- EPIC Burger (7 locations including near Union Station and Magnificent Mile)
Touting a better burger experience, this local chain operates under 6 epic rules, including: NO FROZEN HOCKEY PUCKS ALLOWED and IT'S NOT NICE TO FOOL MOTHER NATURE, meaning fresh, all-natural patties and ingredients including real cheese crafted in Wisconsin, cage-free, organic eggs and real fruit smoothies. More mindful = more delicious.
- Kuma's Corner in Avondale
Burger paradise perhaps, except for that hour plus wait in line. Served up with a side of heavy metal culture, the famed burgers take on personas of their own with names like Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Metallica at this no reservations, Northwest Side destination.
- Lockdown Bar & Grill in Ukrainian Village
Flat screens blasting concert footage, music blaring through the speakers, and big 10oz. Certified Angus Beef burgers. Throw in a prison theme with selections like the double-patty Death Sentence and Merkts cheddar-stuffed Lockdown Warden and you've got yourself another burger trend culprit.
- M Burger (4 locations including in Water Tower Place)
Perfect for grab and go, this downtown chain keeps it simple and keeps it cheap: everything on the menu is less than $5. Locally-sourced and naturally-raised beef and chicken combine perfectly with golden slim fries and creamy milkshakes for a convenient, melt-in-your-mouth meal.
Others on the scene:
- Rockit Burger Bar in Lakeview
Need another reason to head to Wrigleyville when Cubs baseball isn't in swing? How about nearly 20 burger options and 4 types of fries. Fill up on monster meals such as The Gridiron with bacon braised sauerkraut and Yukon waffle fries, The Bourbon BBQ Burger with bacon aioli and sweet potato fries, and The Truffle Mushroom Burger with truffle fries.
Great gourmet burgers are not limited to burger joints. Restaurants known to offer a stellar standout on their menu include famous Chicago staple Billy Goat Tavern
at its original lower level Michigan Avenue location; Mindy's HotChocolate
in Bucktown; Au Cheval
in the West Loop; Chicago Cut Steakhouse
and David Burke's Primehouse
in River North.
Insider's tip: Even vegetarians can get in on the fun. Many places offer non-meat alternatives, see if you can substitute grilled Portobello mushrooms or black bean patties for the beef.
Browse for even more Chicago restaurants and foodie stops on ChooseChicago.com and get the inside scoop from our Chicago Like A Local dining blog.