The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

M Burger No In 'N Out

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Apr 16, 2010 3:40PM

Photo Courtesy Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises
M Burger, in the former chef's table seating area of Tru, has been doing good business in the near month its been open to the public. The combination of its catchy name, "secret" menu and location have drawn comparisons to that Holy Grail of burger chains, In 'N Out. More than one person has made that comparison to us when discussing burgers. No less an authority than Michael Nagrant declared in a recent NewCity column that M Burger served "probably the best fast food burger in the city." 'Course, that's like saying the Cubs are in contention on Opening Day.

M Burger isn't the best fast-food burger in the city, but partners Scott Barton and Randy Brand do get an "A" for effort largely on the merits of re-purposing that chef's table space to its best use since the days when Rick Tramonto regularly graced Tru's kitchen. Barton and Brand aren't trying to reinvent the wheel à la Kuma's, DMK Burger Bar or any of their kissing cousins. To paraphrase Nick the bartender in the Bedford-Falls-without-George-Bailey universe, M Burger serves sandwiches to people who wanna eat fast, and they don't have room in the joint for characters to give the place atmosphere. They don't have much room in the joint, period; even with outdoor seating, M Burger is geared for Mag Mile office lunchers looking for something on the go without slowing their power walks.

According to Brand, beef for the patties are ground fresh daily from Buedel Fine Meats. Milk and creams for the shakes — which are among some of the best in town — come courtesy of Fox Valley Dairy. We visited M Burger with another burger expert: Tribune cheeseburger generalissimo and newly minted cheap eats critic Kevin Pang. Together, we managed to work our way through a good portion of the menu.

The standard M Burger had a very thin patty craning for daylight beneath a ton of toppings and "secret sauce," settled between a soft oven toasted bun. The breast meat served with M Burger's chicken sandwich was, curiously, almost as thin as the beef patty. There was a little more success with the jalapeno-laden "Hurt burger" from the secret menu, but the tangy barbecue sauce on the hurt burger mitigated any fire from the peppers. Of all the ironies, the burger we both seemed to like the best was the "Nurse Betty," a vegetarian option featuring a thick slice of beefsteak tomato and a generous dollop of well-seasoned guacamole. Fries were limp and translucent but well-seasoned. But those shakes and malts, particularly a vanilla caramel malt from the secret menu, are going to be M Burger's calling card come summer.

Pang theorized that the menu and space setup seemed geared toward multiple locations. Brand, through a Lettuce Entertain You spokesperson, said that currently they're concentrating on making sure the one location works well. Given the lines out the door, they'll have plenty of practice to get it right.

M Burger, 161 E. Huron, 312-254-8500. Open 11 a.m. - 7 p.m., seven days a week.