Did you know that burgers were “invented” in Chicago? That’s right—immigrant workers ate meat patties for lunch while helping to construct the buildings that would become Chicago’s World’s Fair in 1893. Of course, burgers have evolved a lot since then. And since Chicago has cemented itself as a foodie destination, chefs are constantly outdoing themselves with their own take on this American classic.
Are you hungry yet? Here’s our road map for the best burgers in downtown Chicago. You don’t have to go far to try something incredible!
DMK's flagship location is in Lakeview, but they recently opened an outpost at popular tourist attraction Navy Pier. Choose from a number of toppings, make it a single or double, and don’t forget to add a milkshake (booze optional). After all, why bother indulging unless you’re going to do it right?
Hours: Sun–Thurs, 10 a.m.–8 p.m.; Fri–Sat, 10 a.m.–10 p.m.
Address: Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Avenue. Other locations
Farther up in the Gold Coast neighborhood, though still “downtown,” is Nico Osteria. They may not be known for their burgers, but they should be. Ask for their burger that's oozing with balsamic vinegar for a unique sensory experience. If you come in for brunch, their home fries make for the perfect burger accompaniment.
Hours: Mon–Fri, 7:30 a.m.–11 p.m.; Sat–Sun, 9 a.m.–11 p.m.
Address: 1015 N. Rush Street
Make a reservation
Au Cheval in the West Loop is practically impossible to get into without a wait, but if you come in at a weird time (like a late lunch), you might get a seat right away. The Au Cheval burger is incredible on its own, but since you’re here, you might as well go crazy. Make sure to add their thick cracked black pepper bacon and a fried egg for the full Au Cheval burger experience.
Hours: Mon–Sat, 11 a.m.–1 a.m.; Sun, 11 a.m.–Midnight (Kitchen is closed 3–5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.)
Address: 800 W. Randolph Street
Rockit Bar & Grill’s best burger (or at the least, their biggest claim to fame), The Mac Attack, is only available at their Wrigleyville location, Rockit Burger Bar. It’s probably best for your health that you can only get this burger if you're willing to travel, but luckily you can still satisfy most burger cravings in River North. This location has an upscale burger menu that includes wagyu beef sliders and a truffle mushroom burger.
Rockit Bar & Grill
Hours: Mon–Fri, 11:30 a.m.–2 a.m.; Sat, 10 a.m.–3 a.m.; Sun, 10 a.m.–2 a.m.
Address: 22 W. Hubbard Street
You might know “The World Famous Billy Goat Tavern" because of the Billy Goat Curse (although it has since been broken — Go Cubs!) or "Cheezborger, cheezborger, cheezborger!" from Saturday Night Live. Regardless of the place's colorful history, most Chicagoans are in agreement that you haven’t really tried it all until you’ve had a burger from the Billy Goat Tavern. There are a number of locations within the city, in the suburbs, and even in Washington, D.C.!
Billy Goat Tavern
Hours: Mon-Thurs, 6 a.m.–1 a.m.; Fri and Sun, 6 a.m.–2 a.m.; Sat, 6 a.m.–3 a.m.
Address: 430 N. Michigan Avenue (lower level)
OK, that may have been a joke. However, Chicago’s downtown plays host to a lot of really awesome burger chains, such as:
- M Burger - A delicious quick-service chain from the likes of Lettuce Entertain You. (At Water Tower Place, 835 N. Michigan Avenue. Other locations)
- Epic Burger - Your burger, your way, from all toppings, down to the meat that serves as the foundation. (In the Gold Coast, at 40 East Pearson Street. Other locations)
- Shake Shack - A one-stop shop for burger-related indulgence. (In River North, at 66 E. Ohio Street. Other locations)
What would you add to this list of the best burgers in downtown Chicago? We’d love to fill up our to-eat lists with delicious new spots to check out!