Food & Drink

The Most Important Burgers in Chicago History

Published On 06/23/2016 Published On 06/23/2016
Flickr/Michael Marmarou
Au Cheval
Kuma's Corner
Billy Goat Tavern
Parts and Labor
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1. White Castle 3212 W Addison St, Chicago, IL 60618

Sometimes you just can't beat a boat-load of sliders and fries from White Castle. The chain that made mini-burgers famous started in Kansas but made its way to Chi-town in the '30s. As the story goes, White Castle's first slider was created by accident when a short-order cook slammed down a meatball in frustration. While the greasy originals might have amassed a cult following, the chicken breast sliders are seriously underrated and thus, worth a try.

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2. Hackney's 733 S Dearborn St, Chicago, IL 60605

Founded in 1939, Hackney’s is an iconic family-run tavern chain known for its burgers. Made with beef ground by the in-house butcher, the Hackneyburger is served on dark rye bread and tastes best when ordered with a towering side of the signature deep-fried onions. The rest of the menu features an array of classic American comfort food and a rotating selection of draft beer.

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3. Top Notch Beefburgers 2116 W 95th St, Chicago, IL 60643

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.

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4. Henry's Hamburgers 1832 M 139, Benton Harbor, MI 49022

In the ‘60s, Henry’s Hamburgers ruled the drive-in burger scene with over 200 locations nationwide. Today, only the Benton Harbor location in Michigan remains. The fast-food burgers are topped with Henry’s “special” sauce, made of ketchup, mustard, pickle relish juice, and pickles. Be sure to get an order of the crinkle-cut fries (served literally by the pound) and a rich chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry shake.

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5. Pete Miller’s Steakhouse 1557 Sherman Ave, Evanston, IL 60201

Pete Miller’s might be known for its thick, bone-in steaks, but it’s the burgers that are truly notable. Right after the Evanston steakhouse opened in 1995, the Chicago Tribune swiftly named its burger the best in Chicago. Made-to-order with your choice of cheese and temperature, the Pete Miller burger is made from a 10oz patty of hand-selected prime beef and served with a side of fries, garlic mashed potatoes, baked potato, or baked sweet potato. The rest of the classic steakhouse menu features 21-day dry-aged steaks, seafood and shellfish, and house specialities like herb-roasted chicken and barbecue ribs.

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6. Au Cheval 800 W Randolph, Chicago, IL 60607

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.

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7. Kuma's Corner 2900 W Belmont Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

Kuma's does burgers, and a lot of them. With its bloodthirsty bear paintings and Slayer-grade metal on repeat, you’ll know you’ve stepped into carnivorous territory long before a tatted waitress brings you one of several hunks of meat, like, say, the Neurosis, a massive, juicy beef patty smothered with sharp cheddar, Swiss, caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, and horseradish mayo.

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8. Billy Goat Tavern 430 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

The original Billy Goat Tavern opened in 1934 across from what’s now the United Center before moving to its current flagship location on Michigan Ave in 1964. Since then, the tavern has expanded with multiple locations around Chicago. It rose to fame in the ‘70s when Billy Murray and John Belushi spoofed it and its infamous “cheezborger” on Saturday Night Live. Served on a Kaiser roll, the cheeseburger is the simple union of a thin, griddled patty, American cheese, and sandwich pickles. Pro-tip: make it a double.

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9. Parts and Labor 2700 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

Parts and Labor is a hamburger-centric barestaurant in Logan Square known for its griddle burgers, sodas, and beer. The classic double burger, topped with two slices of American cheese, packs so many sandwich pickles between buns that you'll get a taste of the crisp texture in every bite. Vegetarians, don't be turned away by the beefy signature -- black bean and vegan patties are available, and the grilled cheese sandwich is a beautiful blend of three cheeses.