Chicago is a burger-loving city. From high-end restaurants with exceptional bar menus to steakhouses and fast-casual standbys, quality burgers can be found in every corner of the city. With May being National Burger Month, it’s an apt time to round up some of the best burgers across a wide spectrum of dining styles.
STK: Celebrate National Burger Month at STK. If it’s a daintier burger you’re after, you won’t do any better than the famous “lil’ BRGs” at STK. One of the most renowned items on the menu at this national chain of sexy, sociable steakhouses, the slider burgers are fan favorites for good reason. They may be tiny, but they pack a sizable punch of flavor, thanks to the use of Wagyu beef, “special” sauce, and pillowy, buttery sesame seed buns. For an additional cost, you can add truffles and/or foie gras.
Tavern on Rush: Utilizing the same cuts of meat on-hand for steak preparations, Tavern on Rush offers a handful of different burger options, all of them exceptional. These things are big and juicy, but no so much that you need to unhinge your jaw to chew it, which is always nice. The prime steak burger features a blend of short rib, brisket, and chuck, while the rib-eye version comes with caramelized onions, mushroom, fontina, and chipotle mayo. There’s also an Angus burger, along with a vegan option and a housemade turkey burger, which isn’t bad either. Tavern has also been known to add seasonal burger specials to the menu, like bison burgers with Cabernet onions and black cherry jam.
Grange Hall Burger Bar: Looking to start your way with the breakfast of champions. Get thee to Grange Hall Burger Bar for their breakfast burger, a burger that does much more than merely slap a couple strips of bacon atop some beef and call it a day. This place does it right. The laudable burger is actually served open-faced atop a bed of syrup-soaked, spiced French toast, providing the perfect marriage of sweet and savory in one nifty breakfast plate. It’s of course served with a sunnyside-up egg and bacon, plus some sharp cheddar. The novel, risky combo pays off, making for a memorable meal in the a.m.
Harry Caray’s Italian Steakhouse: The aptly named “steakhouse burgers” at Harry Caray’s are what you need when your next burger craving hits. The sheer inventive variety is enough to appease a burger fanatic, let alone the incomparable flavor and unique combination of ingredients. The signature “Holy Cow!” burger contains a 10-oz. sirloin patty outfitted with candied bacon, five-year Gouda, lettuce, Harry’s steak sauce, and a brioche bun. Or you can go exotic with the Spicy Thai burger, featuring a grass-fed patty along with pickled carrots, radishes, fresh jalapeno, cilantro, Sriracha mayo, and a brioche bun. The Wagyu burger is great too, since it sort of resembles and tastes like steak au poivre, what with its peppercorn crust, Brandy, Gorgonzola, and watercress, all heaped on a chewy pretzel roll.
Prime & Provisions: The modest-sounding burger at Prime & Provisions isn’t messing around. Like everything else on the extravagant menu here, the ingredients are top-notch, the flavors are bracing, and the altogether final product is deeply indulgent. Using the same dry-aged prime beef the steakhouse has on hand for burlier meat preparations, the burger showcases a succulent, thick patty along with sharp Wisconsin cheddar, and Dijonaise, which is always a welcome addition to any burger. It’s served on a fluffy brioche bun, which does a nice job of soaking up all those beefy juices. For supplemental cost, you can add thick-cut bacon and/or a farm egg to gild the lily.
Good Stuff Eatery: With spots like Shake Shack, M Burger, and Epic Burger popping up all over town, Chicago isn’t lacking in elevated fast-casual burgers. One of the best of the bunch may very well be Good Stuff Eatery, the handiwork of Top Chef alum Spike Mendelsohn. As cliche as it sounds, this is one burger restaurant that tastes like it’s made by a top-tier chef, too. The patties are a tad thicker and meatier than most fast-casual burger patties, which skew thin. It lends a nice chew, especially when sandwiched between doughy Pennsylvania Dutch buns. The burgers don’t require many accompaniments, but freshly sliced tomatoes, some crisp lettuce, and a dollop of tangy “Good Stuff Sauce” really does the trick. Don’t forget to order the addictive, liberally salted fries, which rank among the best in Chicago.
Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab: There should be an addendum at the end of this restaurant’s name, because the classic cheeseburger at Joe’s is equally deserving of tentpole status along with those stone crabs and steaks. It may seem basic, but it’s the all-American nostalgia and the refreshing simplicity that sets this burger apart. It’s one of the best versions of the classic Americana burger we’ve had the pleasure of tasting, featuring a time-tested formula of beef patty, shredded lettuce, thick beefsteak tomato, onions, and a side of fries.