The 10 Best Burgers in Chicago
For many reasons—a popular movie, an SNL skit, our own "encased meat" king—Chicago is known for its sausages, particularly hot dogs. But another thing this carnivorous city is known for is its burgers, which though flying lower on the radar, are just as delicious as its more famous counterparts. So where to find the best burgers in Chicago? All over the place.
1. Small Cheval
1732 N. Milwaukee Ave.
An offshoot of the famed Au Cheval, this place focuses on its big sister's cult favorite, and what many say is truly the best burger in Chicago. Possibly the shortest menu in the city, it lists just three things: hamburgers, cheeseburgers, french fries.
Pro Tip: The drink menu is longer than the food menu, and lists pitchers of beer and the house special boozy punch.
2900 W. Belmont Ave.
This rock themed eatery isn't all show and no go. When Kuma's opened, it lit up the restaurant scene with its extreme burgers that had diners waiting in lines that curled around the block. The fervor has died down some, but visitors still clamor for their unique burgers, such as the Famous Kuma, served with bacon, cheddar cheese, a fried egg, lettuce, tomato, and onion. Side orders are just as extreme, namely the BBQ Pork Fries, a show stopper served with shredded cheese and green onions.
Pro Tip: The restaurant does not take reservations, so if you don't like a long wait, come during off hours.
3. Epic Burger
Epic Burger focuses on the "more mindful burger"—made with beef that is organic, hormone free, and humanely raised. Here, diners build their own burger, with delicious add-ons such avocados, fried cage-free eggs, and thick-cut nitrate-free bacon.
Pro Tip: Pair your burger with a skinny shake, made with fat free yogurt and organic fat free milk.
4. M Burger
This burger joint keeps toppings simple: cheese, onions, pickles, lettuce, tomatoes. They make their mark by also offering the Impossible Burger, a vegetarian burger that many say comes closest to the real thing.
Pro Tip: This chain's secret weapon is its secret menu, with 14 items, including the Roman Style Burger, which swaps the bun for grilled cheese sandwiches.
2116 W. 95th St., Chicago, IL
Open since 1954, this is a South Side classic. The burgers are formed and grilled to order, and the fries are fresh cut, making for a delicious house-made meal.
Pro Tip: If you visit at breakfast, you can still get a burger; this one's topped with a nicely fried egg.
1747 N. Damen Ave.
Chef Mindy Segal, powerhouse of Chicago's restaurant scene, might have garnered a nod from the James Beard Foundation as 2012's outstanding pastry chef, but her eponymous eatery takes as much care with its savory selections. The burger, made with beef from Slagel Farms, is a neighborhood favorite.
Pro Tip: The burger is available at all hours of the day, including brunch.
Opened by culinary veterans David Morton and Michael Cornick, these burgers are crafted with grass-fed beef and custom-made buns. Diners can pair their meals with spiked shakes and sodas, or go super decadent with fries dressed in truffle cream.
Pro Tip: If you're at Soldier Field for a game or a show, you can grab one to eat in the stands. Look in Section 126 or at the United Club.
6604 N. Sheridan Rd. and 921 W. Belmont Ave.
This Korean-based eatery puts an Asian spin on its burgers, using a blend of short ribs, brisket, and chuck. For a blast of umami, opt for the duxelle, which is dressed with truffled mushrooms, togarashi mayo, as well as gouda and bacon.
Pro Tip: Add a burger patty to the bi bim bop for a bun-less spin on the burger.
9. The Bad Apple
4300 N. Lincoln Ave.
Creatively named burgers belie creatively conceived toppings. Take the Even Cowgirls Get the Blues burger, topped with malt vinegar, onion jam, and triple creme bleu cheese. Or Just Beyond the Thunderdome, which comes with braised short rib and horseradish. Other unexpected toppings include fig and bacon relish, garlic puree, and enoki mushrooms.
Pro Tip: For pure decadence, come for the Wednesday special, a burger made with 45-day dry-aged prime rib waygu.
10. RJ Grunts
2056 N. Lincoln Park West
This comfort-food stalwart has held sentry over Lincoln Park for decades. Though known for its massive salad bar, the Gruntburger has been a menu staple since 1971. It's topped with fried onions for crunch and bleu cheese for some tanginess; other burger options include the Yowza, which heats things up with peppercorns, spicy ketchup, and pepperjack cheese.
Pro Tip: For a great view of Lincoln Park, ask for a booth near the windows.
This article was originally written by Samantha Kramer and published in 2015. It has since been updated by our editors.
The Guide: we cover the coolest food, beauty, and entertainment trends happening nationwide.