To embrace Chicago’s amazing dining scene is to embrace opinion. With restaurant options that rank with any great city in the world, foraging foodies can debate which of the 25 Chicago restaurants with Michelin Stars truly earned that distinction, which joint has the best Italian beef, whether to point out-of-town visitors toward deep-dish or crispy tavern-style pizza and, always, where to find the best hamburger in Chicago.
Ranking the best burger places in Chicago is a daunting task. You can find ground greatness in almost any neighborhood, whether it is presented on fine china or sliding across a counter on wax paper in a plastic basket. Here are 10 options to consider if you’re seeking the best burger in Chicago, 2019:
- Kuma’s Corner started out in Avondale in 2005 as bar/bistro that quickly became known for its burgers and love for heavy metal. Now with five locations, including one in the West Loop, it retains an adventurous edge, with toppings for its burgers ranging from maple syrup drizzle to smoked gouda to “anger.” Prices — $14 to $17 — include hand-cut fries.
- DMK Burger Bar is what happens when a hotshot local chef and a bigshot restauranteur — Michael Kornick and David Morton — spend a year seeking out the best burgers in American then convert that research into a restaurant in bustling Lakeview. Ranging in price from $10 to $14, DMK’s burgers feature grass-fed beef (or bison or turkey), artisanal buns or waffles, and toppings from gruyere to roasted poblano to blueberry barbecue sauce. The restaurant’s fries and shakes also have made “best of” lists.
- Hot Chocolate is best known for chef-owner Mindy Segal’s incredible array of desserts. But if you’re in the mood for a great burger without the mind-bending array of choices at many other locations, try this Wicker Park restaurant’s “burger” – which many consider the best cheeseburger in Chicago. A well-spent $17 gets you Slagel Farm beef, Car Valley aged cheddar and house pickles on a house-made sesame bun. And if you want to add an egg, sunny side up, it will cost you an extra dollar.
- Fatso’s Last Stand is just south of Wicker Park in Ukrainian Village — and absolutely worth the trip. A neighborhood snack shop in the best sense, Fatso’s is open until 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, midnight the rest of the week, and will serve you char-grilled or griddle-smashed versions its Fatso Burger (single or double) for less than $10. Gooey, greasy goodness.
- A Chicago landmark, the Billy Goat Tavern is a subterranean lair that for decades has drawn journalists from the nearby offices of the Tribune and Sun-Times for draft beer and cheap burgers with chips (never fries). Made famous by a vintage Saturday Night Live skit, the Goat has expanded beyond its home base where Michigan Avenue divides River North and Streeterville. But it still serves super-thin burgers stacked on toasted Kaiser rolls with pickles (never lettuce or tomato).
- Au Cheval serves three patties on its double cheeseburger, but who’s counting? The Food Network and Bon Appetite magazine both named it not just the best burger in Chicago, but the best burger in America. This West Loop spot is a casual, dim, loud diner. Be prepared to wait for your $15 burger, but it will be worth it.
- At Acadia, a fine-dining destination in the South Loop, you can only get a burger in the bar. Created by Michelin and James Beard-honored chef Ryan McCaskey, this $15 beauty, topped with bacon onion jam, truffle mornay sauce and gruyere, transcends pub grub.
- Butcher and the Burger is a 30-seat counter joint in Lincoln Park. Yes, you can take home meats from the butcher. As for the burger, be prepared to expand on preconceptions. Pick your protein (grass-fed beef, salmon, shrimp and more), then choose your seasoning and toppings, including such out-of-the-box offerings as foie gras and duck egg. You can watch every step of the preparation — grinding, grilling and garnishing — before chowing down. Burger prices range from $10 to $15.
- The patty at The Loyalist, a cozy bar beneath its fine-dining companion Smyth, is a combination of chuck, short rib and bacon. Cheese and caramelized onions are abundant. The burger, named one of the three best in America in 2017 by Bon Appetit, also includes house-made pickles and onion-infused mayo on a sesame seed bun. And it only sets you back $16, fries included.
- Where would a great steakhouse town be without a great steakhouse burger? The USDA Prime Classic Burger at Loop power-lunch spot Chicago Cut Steakhouse may be the best burger in downtown Chicago. Dry-aged beef, cheese dripping down the sides of a mound of meat that only barely qualifies as a patty, and a perfectly shiny bun make this an $18 opportunity for the high rollers to roll up their sleeves.
The Best Burgh
It doesn’t matter if your palate favors burgers, pizza, Michelin Star stalwarts or molecular gastronomy — the best way to access Chicago’s world-class food scene is to live in one of its amazing neighborhoods. And there is no better way to find your new home base than by starting your search today in Downtown Apartment Company’s luxury listings.