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New Late-Night Logan Square Burger Joint SmallFry Will Sell Burgers For Under $10

By Mae Rice in Food on Mar 17, 2016 8:21PM

SmallFry's exterior (Mae Rice/Chicagoist)

SmallFry, a late-night burger joint opening in Logan Square the second week of April, will specialize in gourmet burgers and fries. But like, not too gourmet.

“There’s not gonna be foie gras and truffles here,” co-founder Colin Kelahan told Chicagoist. Instead, the menu—currently a lovable hand-scrawled mess—will hinge on “pretty straightforward” burgers and a Chick-Fil-A-inspired chicken-thigh sandwich, complemented by more experimental veggie burgers, poutines and fries. A burger will cost less than $10, and no dish will cost much more than $10.

Affordable food felt “underrepresented” in Logan Square, Kelahan said, and it's part of why he and his business partner, Egan Quinn, decided to move into the open storefront at 2489 N. Milwaukee Ave. Late-night restaurants are similarly underrepresented in the area, now that El Charro has closed to make way for Furious Spoon; thankfully, SmallFry will stay open until midnight weeknights, and until 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.

Still, let's revisit that "straightforward." The fact Kelahan would call any element of SmallFry "straightforward" is more a reflection of the booming foodie scene in Logan Square—home to Yusho, Longman & Eagle, and James Beard-nominated Fat Rice—than the restaurant itself.

“The actual aesthetic of the inside will be kind of like a gallery,” Kelahan said, adding that he and Quinn are making their own salts and “dehydrating different things” to make their own seasoning blends for the fries. (One blend will be “inspired by the flavor profile” of Cool Ranch Doritos.)

Even the fries themselves, typically a straightforward food, will be made with extra care here: triple-fried, to have a crisp, “almost glassy” outside texture, and soft innards, Kelahan said. He and Quinn will go above and beyond with their veggie burgers, too. They'll come in a variety of “hearty” blends featuring beets and mushrooms—basically, expect “the furthest thing from those Morningstar black bean patties."

As for that gallery aesthetic, it’s showing already, in the “coming soon” signage that occupies SmallFry's display window. Pictured above, the fries-and-ketchup octopus monster thing was designed by Sarah Becan, whose work you might recognize from Fat Rice, or posters for Yusho’s Ramen Battles.

Kelahan said he and Quinn like “working with local artists that we’re fans of,” and draw special inspiration from street art. Though Becan will provide some artwork for them, they’re also working with some well-known Chicago street artists and mural-makers, including Bunny! XLV and Left Handed Wave (known for his images of a guy in a banana suit, waving).

And though SmallFry hasn’t snagged a collaboration with JC Rivera, the artist behind the Logan Square murals starring a yellow bear in boxing gloves, “we would love to work with him,” Kellahan said. “We’ll try to hang a few of his pieces inside.”

Despite the art and the deconstructed Dorito seasoning, though, you can still make the argument SmallFry will be a back-to-basics restaurant—kind of. They’ll make almost all their own sauces in house, including a signature take on McDonald’s Mac sauce, but they’re not making their own ketchup, Kellahan said. They’re sticking with Heinz.

“If it’s not broke don’t fix it,” he explained.