The 20 Best Burger Joints in Chicago
From moden classics like Au Cheval to old-school spots like Top Notch Beefburgers, this city has got you covered.
The hamburger and its salty potato French fry sidekick are an unbeatable duo pretty much anywhere you go—but here in Chicago, we have the best of the best slinging some of the juiciest and greasiest burgers out there. And for those who prefer beefless options, alternatives like veggie burgers, Beyond Burgers, salmon burgers, black bean burgers, and turkey burgers await. No matter what kind of patty you're craving, we got you. Here are our favorite burger joints from Chicago’s best restaurants right now.
This just in: Famed NYC cocktail joint Mother’s Ruin quietly opened a Chicago outpost this past March and subsequently unveiled one of the very best double cheeseburgers in the entire city. How, you ask? Simply by stacking up two perfectly crisped smash patties, a generous slice of cheese, a fistful of crunchy shredded iceberg lettuce, a couple dill pickle chips, some zesty onions, and a slathering of tangy special sauce on pillowy toasted brioche bread. A side of irresistible Old Bay-dusted waffle fries and an unbeatable drinks menu—get the Negroni on tap—only sweeten the deal. Be warned—this is five napkin territory.
R. J. Grunts
If you’re looking for that old-school vibe, R.J. Grunts is your spot. The restaurant opened in 1971 and hasn't changed its decor much since, with wooded details throughout plus an endless stream of funky throwback tunes to set the mood. When it comes to burgers, their classic Hamburger is a go-to, served alongside a mound of cottage fries, and a pickle, because of course. Non-beef burgers include a pepper jack cheese topped veggie burger and a tomato, lettuce, mayo, and Swiss cheese turkey burger. Afterwards, meander to nearby Lincoln Park Zoo and the lakefront to walk off the feast.
Back in 2020, Michelin-starred chef Curtis Duffy began selling to-go burgers out of their ghost kitchen during the pandemic, and since they were such a big hit, he never stopped. Now, Reve’s take out and delivery window sits just around the corner from Ever, chef Duffy’s fine dining restaurant on Fulton Street. The sizable burgers are made up of double quarter pound patties smashed between a fluffy brioche bun and come with perfect BBQ-seasoned fries. In fact the burgers are so good, they made it on the best dishes we ate last year list. Better try for yourself.
Yes, Odges may be known for their hot dogs, but their burgers—made fresh on the flat top grill— are alone worth the visit. The beef is locally sourced from Slagel Family Farm and dry aged for 25 days, giving it a spectacular flavor and texture. And the predictable no-frills toppings—mustard, ketchup, lettuce, tomato, pickle, and grilled onion—are exactly why we love this burger. Every burger is served with a free side of fries and all under 10 dollars. Can’t beat that.
This suburban BBQ staple serves all the American classics from barbeque chicken and pulled pork, to baby back ribs and sirloin steaks. But if you really know what’s good for you, the Barbecue Brisket Burger is the belle of the ball. The patty is a prime brisket draped with a slice of white cheddar, doused in BBQ sauce, and topped with crispy jalapeños and onions.
Beard & Belly
Kyle Schrage and Jim Torres first began their Beard and Belly journey in 2015 out of craft beer bar, Longroom. In 2020, the duo opened up their own burger and poutine slinging operation, with sweet and savory hand pies to boot. Everything on the menu is proudly made from scratch with a whopping six burgers to choose from plus one special each month. This month's burger, The El Burger, is loaded: a chihuahua cheese topped five-ounce patty, with pork chorizo, tortilla strips, lime-y onions, and mixed greens, all hugged between a jalapeño mayo smeared potato bun. Don’t forget the fries, and there are choices: cheese fries, pork fries, chili cheese fries, and short rib poutine.
Despite opening at the height of the pandemic, it hasn’t taken long for this emerging Logan Square darling to make its mark on the local scene. If you have not yet had the pleasure, now’s the time to familiarize yourself with the Gretel Griddle Burger starring two patties topped with white and yellow American cheese, red onion, garlic aioli, and pickles on a sesame seed bun.
Little Bad Wolf
You might need to crank up Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like the Wolf” to get amped up for your date with this Andersonville icon’s massive Wolf Burger, a gargantuan assemblage of three patties outfitted with bacon, American cheese, fried onion straws, house made pickles, red-onion mayo, and, of course, a gooey fried egg. Strap on a feed bag and YOLO your meal by subbing fries for a side of mac and cheese. Just don’t plan on making any sudden movements afterwards.
Anglo-Indian neighborhood favorite Pub Royale isn’t just a great place for beer and soccer. It also houses one of the most distinctly excellent burgers in the city, in the form of its Pulp Fiction-riffing Royale With Cheese. The subtly spiced and expertly charred beef is paired with aged cheddar, aioli, and impossible to ignore spicy pickles.
Nostalgia plays a starring role in the classic no-frills diner-style experience at Beverly institution Top Notch Beefburgers, which has been slinging gut-busting burgers since 1954. Ground daily in-house and griddled in its own juices, options range from the classic quarter pound basic beef burger to the slightly more adventurous half pound Western packed with three slices of cheese, three strips of bacon, grilled or raw onions, grilled green pepper, and BBQ sauce plus a bounty of fries.
Trying to pry Au Cheval loose from a list of best burgers in Chicago is like trying to encourage moderate drinking at a post-pandemic Cubs game. Ain’t gonna happen. So instead of relentlessly swimming against the tide, embrace this legendary West Loop eatery’s predictable rhythms as you dig into the much-lauded burger featuring two four-ounce patties griddled to perfection and topped with American cheese, a smear of piquant dijonnaise, pickles, and onions.
This Michelin Bib Gourmand joint’s unique Asian-accented Mott Burger has become something of a city staple. Tender double chuck patties, sweet potato shoestrings, tangy hoisin aioli, pickled jalapeños, dill pickles, miso butter, and ooey-gooey American cheese comes together to form a zesty, spicy, and totally craveworthy pile of deliciousness. Pair that with an order of Everything Wings and a bottle of sake and consider dinner is served.
Named Chicago’s best burger pretty much everywhere that matters, this upscale West Loop spot’s once-mythical Dirty Burg can now be yours whenever you please. The thick and juicy OG comes loaded with pickles, two slices of American cheese, and saucy onion-infused mayonnaise on a sesame seed while the Classic Cheeseburger is a smash patty topped with onion gastrique, their special sauce, all on a potato bun… oh and frites for good measure.
In the age of super-thin smash burgers and old-school griddled patties, a good steak burger truly stands out. And while many dive-y purists will stick up their noses at the mere mention of a posh local chain, that doesn’t change the fact that this unapologetically polished River North chophouse serves up one of the city’s finest. A sizable hunk of dry-aged beef gets the sharp cheddar, horseradish cream, and plump onion roll treatment, completed by a side of French fries and the glib satisfaction of power lunching like a boss.
Medici on 57th
This Southside stalwart has been keeping UChicago students, staff, and Hyde Park locals alike in quality all-day fare since 1962. Among the cinnamon rolls, salads, deep dish pizza, and milkshakes that make up its impressively large menu lurks a handful of decadent burger options. The pick of the litter is the Garbage Burger: a half pound of 100% Angus beef layered with cheddar, bacon, sautéed onions, and jalapeños, finished with a side of zesty BBQ sauce.
An homage to Indiana’s beloved smash burgers, this five-year-old Roscoe Village cult favorite has captured the heart of Northsiders with mountains of crispy-edged patties ordered by the single, double, or triple and stacked with pickle relish, onion, and the ever-addictive mayo-based Region Sauce. Simple, delicious, and served without a fuss—what’s not to love?
This hard-rocking Chicago-based mini-chain has blossomed into a veritable burger empire since opening its Avondale flagship in 2005, serving carnivorous heavy metal fans in locales as far reaching as Indianapolis and Denver. Of the zillion or so burgers to choose from, you can’t go wrong with the signature Famous Kuma, a fist-sized patty topped with applewood smoked bacon, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and a bright and sunny fried egg.
Fatso's Last Stand
Westside night owls know all too well the joys of a 3 am Fatso’s run. There’s nothing quite like perching on a rickety picnic table along Chicago Avenue while devouring a Super Ooey Gooey (two smash patties bursting with bacon, cheddar, and spicy giardiniera) and wiping Fatso sauce from your chin. Just don’t forget the cheesy tots.
The Swill Inn
This swanky cocktail lounge has a bona-fide hit on its hands with its signature Swill Burger, one of the most coveted late-night bites in Chicago not named Weiner’s Circle. Two succulent 80/20 ground chuck patties are kissed by a hearty scoop of house-made pimento cheese and pickles before being plopped onto a buttery soft brioche bun.
16” On Center’s Pilsen gem is back in action with a full bill of hangover-curing standbys at the ready. Chief among them is the cheeseburger, a patriotic assemblage of tender beef patties, beer pickles, American cheese, lettuce tomato, and special sauce piled onto a classic sesame seed bun. A side of beef fat fries and it’s a wrap (well, technically it’s more of a sandwich, but you get it).
It’s all about the beef inside this Westside gastropub, specifically dual griddled four-ounce patties outfitted with fried onions, dreamy bacon and onion jam, cheddar cheese, pickles, and dijonnaise served on a toasted potato bun alongside a heap of duck fat fries. Too basic for your sophisticated palate? Don’t fret—there are six other varieties on the menu including a particularly handsome Swiss cheese and black truffle pesto-topped number crowned with one and a half ounces of foie gras. Bon appetit.
Elanor Bock is a contributor for Thrillist.