The 12 Most Distinct Burgers In Chicago

By Staff in Best Of on Jun 18, 2014 9:00PM

Chicago is a town of so many delicious burger options, from thin slider varieties to big beefy beauties. We've shared before some of our favorite spots to grab what we think are the best burgers in the city, but even then you are likely still left with a variety of options to pick from. It can be a lot to take in on an empty stomach. We realize we could dig deeper into our burger knowledge and provide even more guidance when it comes to choosing the burger of your dreams.

So today we share with you our favorite particular burger at some of the best spots in the city to help ease menu fatigue. Sure, we've got numerous favorite joints we love to visit (case in point, last year's picks) but these are the specific burgers we find ourselves making our way back to over and over again.

(Lair of the Minotaur via Kuma's website)

Lair of the Minotaur at Kuma’s Corner
You can count on making an obligatory trip to Kuma’s at some point during your Chicago residency, so this writer encourages you to get adventurous with your order when that time comes. The Lair of the Minotaur burger is topped with caramelized onions, a hunk of pancetta, Brie cheese and a delicious bourbon-soaked pear seasoned with star anise. It’s not your average burger option and might seem too sweet to be taken seriously as an entree, but I assure it still goes great with ketchup-dipped house french fries or chips—not that you’ll have any room left in your stomach for them.— Katie Karpowicz

Kuma’s Corner is located at 2900 W Belmont Ave. Their second location, Kuma's Too is located at 666 W. Diversey Pkwy.

Classic Double Burger at Parts And Labor
I’ll admit this is an unexpected and incredibly recent addition to my list of favorite Chicago burgers, but it’s one that’s demanded repeat visits to their establishment from me in recent weeks. Parts and Labor keeps it simple with their appropriately named Classic Double burger. The two patties are grilled to perfection and the cheese is just melted enough without showing up at the table in a congealed mass. Each bite is a wonderful warm and melty experience and while I love me the mammoth burgers at Kuma’s and Lockdown, the simplicity at play here vaults Parts and Labor into their leagues. In fact, skip the two hour wait and similarly prepared burgers at Au Cheval and grab a table on Parts and Labor’s newly opened patio and set yourself up for a lovely summer burger experience.— Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

Parts and Labor is located at 2700 N. Milwaukee Ave.

Bleu Cheeseburger at Hackney’s
If you ever asked, “can’t someone just put some blue cheese inside a hamburger patty,” look no further than Hackney’s and order up the Bleu Cheeseburger. Just as advertised, the burger is stuffed with cheese that melts throughout the burger, giving it a little sharp and salty kick. It makes for a delicious, moldy patty. Served with tomato, lettuce and on dark rye bread the Bleu Cheeseburger is an unusual sandwich. Get one with a friend and split some french fried onions while you’re at it. Unfortunately, Lipitor is not an offered side dish, so bring your own. — Casey Moffitt

Hackney’s is located at 733 S. Dearborn St. in Chicago and also has four suburban locations.

Grizzly Adams at Bad Apple
While Kuma's is perhaps better known, Lincoln Square's Bad Apple serves up an equally impressive menu of burgers and list of beers. All their burgers featured giant patties of Pat LaFrieda beef, grilled to order and topped with interesting home made toppings. I love the Grizzly Adams burger, which is topped with "braised short rib, caramelized onion and an ale, stone ground mustard, jalapeno & sharp cheddar sauce on a pretzel bun." The slow braised short rib complements the grilled burger while the rest of the toppings provide an orchestra of flavors, some sweet, some providing heat. The burgers are served with hand cut fries and home made ketchup. Bad Apple has an impressive beer list and excellent cocktails, making it hard to decide whether to go for the New Fashioned or a pint of Half Acre, whose origin is listed on the menu as "across the street." — Benjy Lipsman

Bad Apple is located at 4300 N. Lincoln Ave.

(photo credit: Chuck Sudo)

Pleasant House Bakery's Tuesday Burger Special
The Bridgeport Pie Shop That Could's weekly specials are worth a trip out south. From their Wednesday bangers and mash night to their Friday fish and chips, Art and Chelsea Jackson and company prove they can do more than just Yorkshire-style meat pies to perfection. Burger enthusiasts will do well to pencil in Tuesdays for the burger special. It's made from house ground chuck and grilled to order, served on a ciabatta bun from La Farine. For the burger's toppings you can choose from a fried egg, raw or grilled onions (get the grilled), lettuce, tomatoes, house made pickles and a choice of cheeses. Try the Stilton Blue; it makes the burger transcendent. —Chuck Sudo

Pleasant House Bakery is located at 964 W. 31st Street.

Griddled Burger at Edzo’s Burger Shop
I've always had a thing for the old school griddled burgers, pressed on the grill until they develop a nice crispy crust around the edges. And nobody serves a better version of that than Edzo's. When Eddie Lakin opened his first shop, he was inspired by Hot Doug's to take something common, and then make it better than anyplace else. So Edzo's grinds all their beef in their shops, fresh every day, and then cook it to perfection. I prefer the double with everything (ketchup, mustard, pickle, onion) and some cheddar cheese, which is served on a soft bun. And when at Edzo's, don't forget about the amazing fries and shakes! The garlic fries are great, lobster fries are decadent and the salted caramel and spicy Mexican chocolate shakes are made to an adults' taste. — Benjy Lipsman

Edzo’s Burger Shops are located at 2218 N. Lincoln Ave. and 1571 Sherman Ave. in Evanston.

House Hamburger at Mindy’s Hot Chocolate
They have killer plated desserts and macaroni and cheese that will have you head over heels, but you can’t live on sweets and cheese alone. The house burger at Mindy’s Hot Chocolate is yet another sensational menu item that I hope never changes. The ingredients are simple: house-ground Slagel Farms beef, organic bacon, Carr Valley 4-year-aged cheddar and a house-made pickle on a garlic-toasted sesame bun. The beauty is in the extreme quality of ingredients and attentive execution. I have to say my favorite quality is the cheese factor, enough to ooze out the side and assert its aged tang but not so much as to overpower the juicy patty. My only wish is to one day see the macaroni and burger get married and have a lovely macaroni and cheeseburger baby. — Erika Kubick

Mindy’s Hot Chocolate is located at 1747 N. Damen Ave.

Anything you want at Butcher and the Burger
All of the patty sandwiches at Butcher & the Burger are deliciously customizable. They supply the best quality of proteins, spices, toppings and buns and leave the choices up to you. I’ve done everything from a grass-fed beef patty with a pretzel bun, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato and Dijon to a salmon burger with umami spice, a whole-wheat bun, goat cheese and red onion. The burgers are always juicy, fresh and cooked exactly the way you want it. There’s also always a surprise in their rotating selection of meats: I’m itching for the return of the soft shell crab patty, myself. Whatever you build, it’s always a knockout. — Erika Kubick

Butcher and the Burger is located at 1021 W. Armitage Ave.

(Hurt burger via M Burger's Facebook)

Hurt Burger at M Burger
Fresh quality ingredients and a simple approach are two things I really appreciate whenever I opt to dine at a fast food establishment, so M Burger quickly won me over with their perfectly cooked classic burgers and thick delicious shakes. And although the many options I've tried on their menu are mighty fine, I always end up coming back to my favorite, the Hurt Burger. I like my cow with a little kick, which this burger delivers when topped with pepper jack cheese, spicy BBQ sauce and (if you like) fresh jalapeƱos. You can customize to your liking, just a touch of heat or feel the burn. The toppings add great levels of spice but never overpower each other or the burger, working together perfectly. I like to ask about their secret shake of the month (currently in June one of my seasonal favorites, key lime pie) and grab one to cool off after. — Lisa White

M Burger has four locations across the city. Check here for the nearest location to you.

Juicy Lucy at The Anthem
Without its signature Juicy Lucy-ness, this would still be a solid burger. A crispy bun sandwiches a nicely seared patty, grilled onions and diced pickles, giving it the look, feel and taste of a classic diner burger. However, it’s the hunk of Velveeta cheese stuffed into the middle of the patty and cooked to melting point that takes this burger over the top and lands it on our “Best Of” list. The Anthem certainly didn’t invent the Juicy Lucy burger but they absolutely do it justice. Extra napkins are recommended. — Katie Karpowicz

The Anthem is located at 1725 W. Division St.

Pl-Zen Burger at Pl-Zen
This burger is made of bison topped with a hearty stout-cheddar fondue and crispy bacon and onions on toasted brioche. It’s indigenous America meets British pub and pairs well with their selection of local beers such as 5 Rabbit’s 5 Vulture, which is a dark ale brewed with ancho chile. — Melissa McEwen

Pl-Zen is located at 1519 W. 18th St.

Dusek's Juicy Lucy
Not content for one Juicy Lucy on the list, we have two. Dusek's has been drawing crowds to Pilsen's Thalia Hall with a small, simple menu that is expertly prepared. The cheese here is key. Chef Jared Wentworth and his staff concocted a cheddar-based Mornay sauce with a bit of calcium citrate added to lower the melting point, sandwiched between two thin patties of Slagel Farms beef holding the whole mess in. It’s served on a house-baked pretzel bun with butter lettuce, preserved tomato, red-onion bacon marmalade and a side of duck fat frites. If they get the melting point of the cheese right what you wind up with is a powerful burger. —Chuck Sudo

Dusek’s is located at 1227 W. 18th Street