South Side Cheap Eats: Top Notch Beefburger

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Aug 22, 2007 6:30PM

2007_08_topnotch.jpgThanks largely to the ubiquity of the Food Network, everyone dabbles a bit in gourmet these days. Even bars that one would think should only cater in standard pub grub are going out of their way and dressing up their burgers with buns and sides our grandparents wouldn't dream of when they were our age. We're not knocking it, mind you. We're just saying that sometimes we just want a burger to just be a burger.

So, while biking around Beverly and Morgan Park yesterday looking for things for cover for the site, we stopped at Top Notch Beefburger (2116 W. 95th Street; 773-445-7218, open 8 a.m.- 8 p.m. Monday through Friday; 7:30 a.m. - 9 p.m. Saturday) before we headed home for a refuel. If you have never been to Top Notch, you don't know what you're missing. The burgers here, hand formed from fresh beef ground daily, take you back to a time when GIs walked the streets with pockets full of money, ready to cut themselves a slice of good time. Which makes sense, since the place dates all the way back to 1942. After sixty-five years, you'd think they could do this in their sleep.

2007_08_topnotch_deluxe.jpgWe ordered the half-pound deluxe beefburger with cheese ($7.45), served to us with home-cut fries, trimmings and a toasted sesame seed bun. You get your choices of cheese here, so be sure to take a look at the menu and let the waitresses know, otherwise you'll get American (we ordered Monterey Jack). We added a small strawberry milkshake ($2.50) that maintained its rich, thick consistency throughout the meal. Top Notch also has a wide array of diner fare, from breakfast entrées to other sandwiches. But visiting this place and not ordering a beefburger is blasphemy. Top Notch draws a diverse crowd of locals, burger enthusiasts, and fans of the city like Chicago Tribune Columnist/WGN Radio host Rick Kogan. The place was even featured once on "Check, Please." It's an institution that folks throughout the city should take pride in.