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Chicago's Best Burgers

By Staff in Food on May 31, 2013 3:00PM

One patty, two patties, big patty, MEAT. These are our favorite burgers in Chicago. Some are dressed up with fancy toppings, some survive with just a side of fries, all are tasty. Don't just eat one.

The Kuma Burger. Photo Credit: roboppy

Duh. Let's move on. —Samantha Abernethy
Kuma's Corner is at 2900 W. Belmont Ave., and Kuma's Too is at 666 W. Diversey St.

Yes, Au Cheval's burger gets a ton of hype, but it's completely justified. The single takes two griddled prime beef patties (the double takes three) and grills them to medium. Then the patties are placed on a soft, toasted bun and topped with cheese, dijonnaise, and pickles. It's simple, it's delicious, and since it'll set you back just $9.95, add on the mornay sauce- and egg-topped frites as a side. —Amy Cavanaugh
Au Cheval is at 800 W. Randolph St.

Nightwood's burger. Photo Credit: Chuck Sudo
Here's what I wrote about Nightwood's burger in April 2011: "Nightwood’s burger is a subtle masterpiece, with touches like garlic aioli with a touch of concentrated tomato as their special sauce, served on a ciabatta roll with just the right amount of crusty texture on the outside, but soft enough inside to handle the ground beef from Slagel Farms, given extra flavor from homemade Worcestershire sauce. Fresh greens top this burger like a crown." They've recently changed the size of the patty from a large to a double, similar to Au Cheval, and they've added an onion ring on top of the bun. It still remains one of my favorites in Chicago and, cooked on the Pilsen restaurant's wood-fired grill, retains a flavor and juiciness unparalleled anywhere else. —Chuck Sudo
Nightwood is at 2119 S. Halsted Street.

Most people who’ve wandered into the Bad Apple know the name is actually short for Badass Burgers, Apple or No Apple. Served with homemade ketchup and hand-cut fries, from truffle to curry to minced garlic, Bad Apple’s extensive burger selection is arguably the best you’ll find on the north side. Our personal favorite? The Edmund Fig-Gerald, topped with fig and bacon relish as well as a generous dollop of goat cheese and smoked onions. We've also lapped up Elvis' Last Supper, festooned with bacon and peanut butter, and loved it something tender. The King went out on a high note. —Melissa Wiley
Bad Apple is at 4300 N. Lincoln Ave.

The Big DMK Burger. Photo Credit: Clint McMahon

Where can you get an amazing, grass-fed burger, the best milkshake in Chicago, fried pickles and a great shot of bourbon? The only answer to this question: DMK Burger Bar in Lakeview. Their #1 burger, with aged cheddar, smoked bacon, charred balsamic red onions and barbecue sauce, is my favorite burger in the world, and their peanut butter shake, laced with swirls of chocolate, is the reason that my blood sugar is often too high on Saturday afternoons. My tip? It's usually easy to get in early for lunch on weekends. Claim the table, order all the different french fries and savor a great day. —Anthony Todd
DMK Burger Bar is at 2954 North Sheffield Ave.

Mindy Segal is one of the best pastry chefs in the universe, but she'll go to Hell and back touting the praises of the burger at her restaurant, Hot Chocolate. The menu and interior at Segal's Wicker Park hotspot have changed over the years, but the burger remains untouched since the days when Mark Steuer manned the kitchen. Made with two cuts of Heartland Meats Piedmontese beef ground in house, Hot Chocolate serves one of the leaner yet most flavorful burgers in town. Get it topped with an egg and pray you don't have Segal looking over your shoulder asking, "So, whaddya think? Best Goddamn burger in Chicago, huh?" —Chuck Sudo
Hot Chocolate is at 1747 N. Damen Ave.

The Juicy Lucy. Photo Credit: Anthem
Until Anthem opened, "Juicy Lucy" burgers were just a mythological thing in my mind — like a hassle-free interaction with Comcast. It's true this Ukranian Village sports bar isn't the only place in Chicago to serve the juicy Lucy — a doubled cheeseburger with a hunk of Velveeta cheese melted between the patties -- but Anthem's made such a splash on the Chicago burger scene, I had to make a special trip to try it out. It's hard to go wrong with cheese on meat on cheese, but the addition of a crispy bun reminiscent of greasy spoons grills and those caramelized onions really put this one over the top. Warning: immobilizing yet totally satisfying food coma to follow. —Katie Karpowicz
Anthem is at 1725 W. Division St.

Eddie Lakin left the fine dining world behind to open a burger shop modeled so closely on Dough Sohn's concept for Hot Doug's he may own Sohn royalties. Edzo's Burger Shop in Evanston and Edzo's Lincoln Park are throwbacks to the burger joints of yesteryear, if those places placed an emphasis on quality ingredients. In addition to simple hand ground beef, diners have the options of ordering farm fresh meats for their burgers, and may order them in four-ounce griddled patties or eight-ounce char-broiled monsters. The broiled burgers have a nice char to them cooked medium rare but the griddled burgers are a better approximation of what Lakin is doing at Edzo's. I recommend a double with cheddar, served with some loaded fries and a milkshake. —Chuck Sudo
Edzo's Burger Shop is at 1571 Sherman Ave. in Evanston. Edzo's Lincoln Park is at 2218 N. Lincoln Ave.

I don’t always want a big honkin' burger with a bunch of unconventional toppings. I like a classic burger—go ahead and flatten out that meat, cook it all the way through and keep the dressings simple. M Burger has a small menu, but they do it all well, and fast. There’s a few burger options, a chicken sandwich and a salad, and of course the bag of fries, thin “delicious” fries. Get your hands on a milkshake if you want, too (those in the know order the off-menu specialty shake The self-titled M Burger comes with bacon, cheese and sauce, or stay classic with a regular hamburger, cheeseburger or an Old Fashioned (cheese, tomato, lettuce, ketchup, mayo). If you’re dangerous, go for the Hurt Burger which has spicy bbq sauce and pepper jack cheese. —Michelle Meywes
M Burger has grown to four locations since opening in 2010: the original at 161 E. Huron, 5 W. Ontario, inside the Thompson Center (100 W. Randolph) and the newest at Water Tower Place, which also serves beer (835 N. Michigan).

Maybe this shouldn't be listed as best burger because it's in a class all its own as a "cheezborger." It's a Chicago institution (and sometimes a tourist trap), and that's because those greasy burgers are damn delicious. Order a double. Chips, no fries. —Samantha Abernethy
The original Billy Goat Tavern is at 430 N. Michigan Ave., but there are several locations.

In my humble opinion, Three Aces can do little wrong. The "Ace Burger," topped with aged cheddar, bacon jam, aioli, lettuce, and red onion, is one of my five favorite burgers in Chicago. The greens on the burger change out with the season and the patty is hand formed and cooked to order; medium rare is best. Have it with some of Three Aces' Bolognese fries and a "Ginger Baby" cocktail and you're set for a lazy Sunday. —Chuck Sudo
Three Aces is at 1321 W. Taylor St.

Lockdown is one of the main reasons you no longer have a guaranteed 3-hour wait at Kuma's. The bar and grill specializes in big bad burgers with attitude. Cheekily named after various prison terminology you have your choice of patties — 10 ounces of ground beef, ground Turkey, Veggie or Chicken Breast — and a host of other toppings. I'm a plain eater, though, so I always go for the Citizen topped with cheddar, bacon and a fried egg, and I have always walked out fat and happy. They've also got a killer selection of drafts on tap. My current addiction is the Small Town Brewery Not Your Father's Root Beer (at a whopping 19.5% alcohol content), which pairs perfectly with my standard order. A vegetarian friend of ours says that Lockdown has the best veggie patty in the city too, so if you want to go meatless this is the place to do it at. Tuesday is half-price burger night so we'd recommend visiting on any other day unless you're hankering for a wait reminiscent of Kuma's busier days. —Jim Kopeny
Lockdown is at 1024 N. Western Ave.

This Beverly institution is home to one of the cheapest and possibly the least pretentious delicious burger in Chicago. It's a mass of hand-ground, hand-formed beef, served with your choice of grilled or raw onions and a pickles, for $3.70. Get the deluxe with a heaping serving of hand-cut fries for $6.45. As diner burgers go, Top Notch Beefburger remains the crown jewel among Chicago's greasy spoons. —Chuck Sudo
Top Notch Beefburger is located at 2116 W. 95th Street.

I visited Leadbelly the first week it was open, and the owner seemed tickled to have a line out the door. Granted, it doesn't take much with the tiny, 12-or-so-seat dining room, but he shouldn't have been so surprised - the burgers here are ground onsite and delivered on house-made buns (and as the website and signs in the restaurant warn, when the buns are gone, service is over), topped with house-made sauces and accompanied by handcut fries. And while it's not the easiest trip to get to the Portage Park location, your wallet will love you for the effort - the basic Leadbelly burger (L/T/O, house made siracha pickles and your choice of cheese) can be had for under $7, with a small side of fries (which we found to be plenty) for less than $2. Round out your meal with a craft beer (rotating selection) on tap for as little as $4, a craft soda or even an alcoholic "adult" shake that would make 25 Degrees proud. For those that fear not the Northwest Side, Leadbelly offers an outstanding burger value. —Lizz Kannenberg
Leadbelly is at 5739 W. Irving Park Road.

Alright, meat-loving Chicagoans, what did we miss?

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