May is National Burger Month, in case you needed further incentive to eat your way through Chicago's booming burger scene. Here are some of the biggest, beefiest and best versions in town.
Trenchermen (2039 W. North Ave., pictured at top)
Setting a new bar for bar food, Trenchermen's bar menu features one of Chicago's finest burger specimens. The "Trench double burger" looks pretty classic, but the flavors erupt into a supernova of beefy divinity. Each perfectly composed, succulent patty is rich with juicy steaky heft, layered with verdant bread & butter pickles and stacked on a doughy bun.
Edzo's Burger Shop (1571 Sherman Ave., Evanston)
When it comes to quick-service nostalgia in Chicago's burger scene, Edzo's Burger Shop is the end all-be all. Thin, freshly griddled patties are the name of the game at Edzo's, a sleek eatery enrobed in vibrant colors and a general sense of Americana. It's fast food for people who care about what they're eating, featuring superb burgers, fries, milkshakes and more.
Good Stuff Eatery (22 S. Wabash Ave.)
Chicago has seen a huge influx of burger restaurants from other cities over the past year. From Shake Shack to Umami Burger, each spot has its own unique merits. But one spot that stands out as particularly and consistently stellar is D.C.-based Good Stuff Eatery. Helmed by Top Chef alum Spike Mendelsohn, Good Stuff lives up to its name with fresh, juicy griddle burgers on sweet, doughy buns. Extra toppings can be classic or contemporary, but it's all about the sublime simplicity of the beef. Good Stuff also happens to have some of the best french fries in the city, and the toasted marshmallow milkshake is not to be missed.
Owen & Engine (2700 N. Western Ave.)
When it comes to burger supremacy, Owen & Engine has the formula down to a tee. The sleeper hit of the gastro-British menu at this manse-like eatery on the edge of Logan Square, the burger holds its own alongside bangers & mash, fish & chips and any other British ampersand dish. What makes this thing special is its simplicity, proving that a burger need not be inundated with accoutrements in order to shine. Burgers here are luscious and juicy, rich with unctuous flavor and loosely packed so as to ensure a tender patty. It's served atop a house-baked bap bun, which is as warm and pillowy as a delicious down comforter. Some sweet caramelized onions round it all out.
Acadia (1639 S. Wabash Ave.)
A restaurant popularized for its haute seafood preparations and degustations also happens to serve some of the best burgers in the city. Considering the high-end setting, it's particularly amusing and ironic that two of the three burgers on offer in the bar area are inspired by fast-food restaurants. The "BK" burger is a nod to chef/owner Ryan McCaskey's childhood glee for Burger King. We've all been there. In this case, it's a win-win situation, because we get the guilty pleasure of a fast-food style burger without the innate awfulness of actually eating fast-food. McCaskey heaps his burger patties with housemade bacon, "special sauce" and double cream Gouda. For his "Hardee's" burger, it's topped with mushroom ragout and Gruyere. And then there's the "Original" burger outfitted with bacon-onion jam and Gruyere.
Dusek's (1227 W. 18th St.)
One surefire way to improve upon a cheeseburger is by injecting said burger with cheese. The Juicy Lucy at Dusek's in Pilsen is a delicious homage to that Minnesota novelty, wherein burgers are infused with melty cheese. Sort of like a molten chocolate cake, but obviously better. The cheese-filled behemoth at Dusek's comes with red onion-bacon marmalade, butter lettuce and heirloom tomato, with a side of beef fat fries.
DMK Burger Bar (2954 N. Sheffield Ave.)
For burgers that are at once mercifully light(ish) and packed with indulgence, head to DMK Burger Bar. Seeing as this bar/restaurant is hinged on burgers, there's a dizzying array of options to be had, including several beef burgers and some offbeat varieties made with fish, buffalo and the like. Potato buns are something special, fluffy little pillows that perfectly encapsulate the thin patties, intricate toppings, and flavor-packed sauces. One of the best bets on the menu is the #1 burger, made with aged cheddar, smoked bacon, charred balsamic red onions, and BBQ sauce. For those with python-like capabilities of unhinging their jaw, the #7 Big DMK is a triple-decker behemoth stacked with special sauce.
Parts & Labor (2700 N. Milwaukee Ave.)
Harkening back to a bygone era of Americana burger lore, Parts & Labor features a streamlined menu of classic burgers, sides, salads and burger-friendly libations. The garage-like space in Logan Square is an apt setting to partake in some greasy indulgence. Adhering to a straightforward formula of quality beef, pillowy and buttery buns, and classic toppings, the burgers at Parts & Labor are at once vintage and sublime.
Photos: Trenchermen, Good Stuff Eatery, Acadia, DMK Burger Bar