Whether you're living like a ramen-diet student or a Playpen lifer, you deserve the best burger that money can buy. So we're giving it to you: here's a rundown of the best Chicago burger for 22 different price points (starting at $1). Now go get the best burger bang for your buck.
Every Tuesday, the hamburger special (available from 5pm to close) gives you a meat patty, lettuce, and a bun (toppings and tots cost extra, but still, not bad for a buck). Of the $1 burgers floating around various sports bars, Bar Louie provides the strongest base from which to work.
Choppers' quarter-pound char-broiled burger is packaged Whopper-style with lettuce, tomato, grilled onions, mustard, ketchup, and mayo on a toasted bun.
In addition to Polish and Depression dogs, this respected hot dog stand offers a griddled double cheeseburger WITH fries for under five bucks.
The stacked patties of the Double Fatso with cheese are not to be missed at this unashamed fast-food spot. Pretty soon you’ll get to sample their wares in the former home of Hot Doug’s.
Come to this standing-room-only burger shop to channel your inner Champ Kind with the Whammy Burger, topped with a whole Polish sausage.
Lincoln Park, Evanston
We could have easily plugged in Edzo’s almost anywhere on the list with great burgers on the cheap. But since there're also plenty of upgrades on the menu to soup up your sandwich (and some of them are crazy good), we put it here: spring for the Slagel Farms beef burger with some added bacon.
Portage Park, Jefferson Park
Among a lineup of rock n' roll-themed burgers, the Midnight Special stands out with a fine coating of chili cheese Fritos, pico de gallo, and chipotle cream.
For around $10, you can take your pick of most any burger on the DMK menu, ranging from a roasted green hatch chile and bacon burger to a smoked Swiss patty melt.
Saddle up to the bar to get your mitts on a Trench Double Burger, topped with aged Tillamook cheddar and bread & butter pickles on a fluffy, toasted sesame bun. Save a few ducats by looking out for their rotating $10 burger-and-beer specials on Wednesdays.
Satisfaction on a ciabatta roll, Nightwood's cheeseburger makes it with two patties, eight-year cheddar, an onion ring, pickles, special sauce, and homemade Worcestershire sauce.
Indulge in Chef Kevin Hickey's wood-grilled ground bacon burger with a 70:30 beef-to-bacon ratio (!!!), creamy Vermillion blue cheese, shoestring potatoes, and special sauce on a buttered brioche bun.
If prix fixes and wine pairings aren't your thing, the bar menu affords an excellent alternative with the Acadia Burger, a juicy brisket and Wagyu patty, Gruyère, Mornay sauce, and bacon-onion jam for maximum umami-ness.
Max out your Andrew Jackson at Billy Dec's burger bar by ordering up a Rockit Burger: Wagyu Kobe beef, melted Brie, fried shallots, and medjool date aioli on a red onion brioche bun. Truffle fries on the side? Totally included.
Though it seems entirely illogical to spend more than $20 on a burger, it you are feeling particularly swaggy, you've got a couple options: the Road House BBQ Burger at Tavern at the Park ($21), the special Wagyu Wednesday Burger at The Bad Apple ($26), or the foie gras truffle goat cheese burger at Rosebud Steakhouse ($30).
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Sean Cooley is Thrillist's Chicago Editor and he plans to work the word "umami" into as many casual conversations as possible. Follow him @SeanCooley.
1. Henry's Swing Club18 W Hubbard St, Chicago
2. Choppers1659 N Ashland Ave, Chicago
3. Red Hot Ranch2072 N Western Ave, Chicago
4. Top Notch Beefburgers2116 W 95th St, Chicago
5. Fatso's Last Stand2258 W Chicago Ave, Chicago
6. That's A Burger2134 E 71st St, Chicago
7. Edzo's Burger Shop1571 Sherman Ave, Evanston
8. BRGRBelly5739 W Irving Pk Rd, Chicago
9. DMK Burger Bar2954 N Sheffield, Chicago
10. Au Cheval800 W Randolph, Chicago
11. David Burke's Primehouse616 N Rush St, Chicago
12. Kuma's Too666 W Diversey Pkwy, Chicago
13. Trenchermen2039 W North Ave, Chicago
14. Owen & Engine2700 N Western Ave, Chicago
15. Nightwood Restaurant2119 S Halsted St, Chicago
16. Bottlefork441 N Clark St, Chicago
17. Acadia1639 S Wabash, Chicago
18. Rockit Burger Bar3700 N Clark St, Chicago
19. Tavern at the Park130 E Randolph St, Chicago
20. The Bad Apple4300 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago
21. Rosebud Steakhouse192 E Walton St, Chicago
This River North hub is home to over 22 slider options on its menu, as well as serious drink options (buy a bottle of Jack and get free Coke refills all night!), playing cards, vintage Playboys, and pool tables.
Choppers fills your belly with deliciously simple burgers, topped with basics like lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, and bacon. Get your authentic Chicago burger experience card punched with the Choppak, "The Happy Meal for Adults" -- a double cheeseburger with fries and homemade slaw.
Chicagoans love their dogs hot and Red Hot Ranch's blinking red arrow sign directs them to this cash-only standby for "Depression Dogs:" Vienna beef dogs with mustard, onion, relish, sport peppers with a fist full of french fries in the bun. The natural-cased weiners pop when you bite them and the fries are crisp. Thin-pattied double cheeseburgers satisfy, but when in the dog house, get the dog.
Top Knotch Beefburgers has been delivering staple diner food in Beverly since 1942. The menu includes all the American classics, and the signature order is (unsurprisingly) a half-pound hamburger with a pile of crunchy, twice-fried Idaho potato fries on the side. The restaurant claims its burgers get their damn-good status from cow leg meat, an ingredient typically undesired by chefs. The restaurant is outfitted with formica diner booths and counter seating.
This no frills, Ukrainian Village eatery pretty much has the perfect name, with a menu chock-full of items like fresh-cut fries, char dogs, and burgers. One of the staples here is the Double Fatso with cheese -- two perfectly grilled beef patties flanked by slices of American cheese, onion, and secret sauce -- a burger that can give In-N-Out a run for its money.
It shouldn't come as a surprise that TAB has a menu loaded with quality meat discs (the turkey burger gets rave reviews). But they also offer up tasty chicken, hot dogs, wings, fries, and more.
Edzo isn't the name of a creepy clown but of an awesome burger joint with a serious '70s vibe. The patties are made from house-ground chuck that's pressed, griddled, then topped with extras like fried egg or giardiniera relish. The menu includes elevated French fry options -- order them "Crazy" to get a topping of chili, cheese, and chopped onion or "Angry" with four kinds of spices. Edzo's is also known for its milkshakes, which are made the old-fashioned way -- on a slow-mixing spindle machine -- to yield an extra-smooth and creamy texture.
Formerly known as Leadbelly, BRGRBelly serves up comfort food options with gourmet flair. The burgers, all of which are meant to give you your own lead belly, include patties topped with crab cakes and slathered in béarnaise sauce, and the menu is rounded out with fries topped with pork belly and 40+ craft beers.
A collab between industry vets David Morton and Michael Kornick, DMK (get it?) is a 75-seat storefront neighborhood bar outfitted with reclaimed Wisconsin barn boards and exposed original brick that's turning out gourmet grass-fed beef burgers.
This upscale West Loop restaurant is known for its European flair and sophisticated American diner-style eats. Au Cheval usually has a wait out the door at peak dinner hours because it's home to iconic signature items like the fried house-made bologna sandwich and the so-called single burger, which actually comes with two thin patties and is topped with American cheese, house Dijonnaise, pickles, and if you know what's good for you, the optional bacon and fried egg add-ons. The brasserie-like space includes an open kitchen and a bar where local, domestic, and international beers are all on tap.
Located within the James Hotel, this upscale River North steakhouse serves reputable dry-aged ribeyes, porterhouses, and strip steaks. Aside from the classics, the menu features creative carnivore dishes like Wagyu beef sashimi and kobe corn dogs, as well as pasta and a host of vegetable sides for those who aren't meat inclined.
From the flames of hell that spawned Kuma’s Corner, Kuma’s Too has arisen at (of course) 666 W Diversey, nearly doubling the original's size while duplicating its metal-inspired, pretzel-bunned burger options like the Metallica (Buffalo sauce, bacon, bleu cheese dressing) and the Black Sabbath, made with blackening spice, chili, pepper jack.
Trenchermen is modeled after the hospitality offered by a Turkish bathhouse that previously occupied its location -- "a place where vodka was at hand and a bowl of borscht and a cold beer was a staple." Today you'll find a classier menu with dishes like braised lamb shank served over goat cheese gnudi, that still captures the comfort of the food formerly served here. Oh, and 30+ beers on tap.
The term "gastropub" is thrown around loosely in the business of restaurant writing, but Owen & Engine truly fits the bill. The upscale British pub in Logan Square has a Bib Gourmand from the Michelin guide, so it might be better than many that are actually in England. The menu includes snacks and small plates like Scotch eggs and beef carpaccio, plus a selection of entrées that includes one of the best burgers in town. The extensive draft list is constantly changing but features IPAs, Belgian ale, stout, and more.
This farm-to-table eatery is home to all things artisanal and local, and only serves up eats that're in season. Stop in for bites like their house corned beef on rye crouton bread, served with chopped liver and egg.
It's hard out there for a small plates restaurant that straddles the line between bar and full-service dinner restaurant, yet Bottlefork in River North manages to stand above the pack. The food menu spans a variety of cuisines and dietary restrictions, featuring dishes like tuna crudo, crispy Brussels sprouts with chorizo, buttermilk fried chicken, and a critically-acclaimed ground bacon burger. The cocktail menu, complete with illustrations, is divided into categories based on flavor and style: fruity, smoky, dark, and "Gentlemen's Cut."
Tucked away in a nondescript South Loop building, this Michelin-starred restaurant showcases chef Ryan McCaskey's contemporary take on classic American fare. Inspired by Maine, Acadia is unique for pulling off a sophisticated multi-course tasting menu (available in five or ten courses) and an à la carte bar menu that sports an aggressively indulgent burger. Whether you're there for the complete prix-fixe experience or for a cocktail and oysters at the bar, Acadia is definitely a special occasion spot.
This is the only time you'll hear "Come see what's between our buns," and not be freaked out. Rockit Burger Bar offers some badass burgers, including gems like the huevos rancheros burger and a chicken breast patty aptly named "The Motherclucker." If you're craycray and burgers aren't your thing, flatbreads and small bites are also served.
Check out their rooftop bar "Treehouse at the Tavern", or just stop in for lunch and enjoy some mac and cheese, a hearty steak sandwich, and something sudsy from their tastefully put together draft list.
The Bad Apple is a comfortable neighborhood tavern with a full menu of stacked burgers, sandwiches, and bar-appropriate snacks like fried cheese curds and poutine. The beer menu features a helluva -- almost 200 -- options of domestic and international craft beers.
This old-school steakhouse, located steps from Lake Michigan, serves up great cuts alongside an extensive wine list. Known for its excellent service, Rosebud is a well kept secret within the fine dining scene. Don't miss the spinach salad with warm bacon dressing, baby back "sticky" ribs, and single malt Scotch.