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Chicago's Best Burgers: The Definitive Guide

Sean Cooley/Thrillist

In a city chock-full of hot dogs, sausage, pizza, and Italian beef, it’s still important not to overlook the meaty virtues of a great burger. We’ve mowed down many a meat patty to find the top 20 burgers in Chicago. From a caramelized kimchi-topped creation to a bacon-blended behemoth, here’s what you burger lovers ought to be sinking your teeth into.

Sean Cooley/Thrillist
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Slagel Farm beef burger

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Owen & Engine
 
Neighborhood/Location
Logan Square
Description

You don’t have to be a butcher to appreciate the glory of a locally sourced beef patty comprised of brisket, short rib, and chuck on this English-inspired pub burger. Sure, the meaty handheld comes with the option to pile it high with toppings, but the standard caramelized onions and house-made potato bap complement the meat just fine.

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Sean Cooley/Thrillist
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Neurosis

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Kuma’s Corner/Kuma’s Too
 
Neighborhood/Location
Avondale/Lakeview
Description

The burgers at this heavy metal meat emporium, just like the tunes it blasts, are not for the faint of heart and a proper sacrifice to the Dark Lord involves devouring a Neurosis. It's stacked with horseradish mayo, sharp cheddar, Swiss, caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, lettuce, tomato, and raw onion, so each bite is a welcoming flavor assault.

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Acadia Chicago
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Acadia Burger

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Acadia
 
Neighborhood/Location
South Loop
Description

Respect the versatility of a restaurant that can pull off both a sophisticated multi-course tasting menu and a bar menu sporting an aggressively indulgent burger. Chef Ryan McCaskey’s burger features an 8oz all-beef patty, onion bacon jam, and bread & butter pickles. The creamy Gruyere and taleggio cheese mornay just bring it to the next level.

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Rockit Ranch Productions
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Wood Grilled Ground Bacon Burger

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Bottlefork
 
Neighborhood/Location
River North
Description

Take what you know about the average bacon burger and forget it entirely, because this appropriately fancy take boasts a jaw-dropping 30% bacon patty crowned with Vermillion blue cheese, shoestring potatoes, and special sauce. The pronounced bacon flavor is loud and proud, just as it should be, and matched with high-quality toppings that don’t get in the way.

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Hot Chocolate Chicago
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Hamburger

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Mindy’s Hot Chocolate
 
Neighborhood/Location
Bucktown
Description

What does a pastry chef know about constructing a flawless burger? In the case of Chef Mindy Segal, a whole hell of a lot actually. All the proof you’ll need is on the menu at her Bucktown gem: a classic beef burger with cheddar, bacon, and a sesame seed bun topped with more strips of melted cheddar.

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KARI SKAFLEN/HOGSALT
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Single cheeseburger

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Au Cheval 
 
Neighborhood/Location
West Loop
Description

This iconic burger has topped local and national best-of lists left and right (including our own), and for good reason: it really is that umami-tingling spectacular. The single (a misnomer, as it involves two thin patties) strikes that golden meat-to-bun ratio, and gets a serious flavor boost thanks to American cheese, pickles, Dijonnaise, and optional (but actually mandatory) thick-cut bacon and a fried egg.

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Courtesy of Parts & Labor
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Classic double

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Parts & Labor 
 
Neighborhood/Location
Logan Square
Description

The best part about this simple, straightforward griddle burger is that you get pickle in every bite; it may seem like a small victory, but when it comes to a classic burger, the flavor and texture of pickle slices are crucial in tying it all together. At only $6 a pop, it’s also the cheapest burger on this list AND it’s brunchable.

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Courtesy of Seven Lions
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7L Cheeseburger

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Seven Lions
 
Neighborhood/Location
Loop
Description

If you’re not keen to the idea of waiting in line indefinitely for a burger, head to this casually elegant spot in the Loop for a veritable AC doppelgänger. The 7L rendition features two thin patties layered with American cheese, a heap of sautéed red onions, pickles, and tomato aioli, along with optional bacon, avocado, and/or fried egg.

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BopNGrill
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Kimchi Burger

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bopNgrill
 
Neighborhood/Location
Rogers Park, Lakeview
Description

Korean and American fare collide to create one impressive lovechild: bopNgrill's crave-worthy kimchi burger. The exceptional creation is a vision with caramelized kimchi cooked with rendered pork fat, fried egg, American cheese, bacon, togarashi mayo, and shredded cabbage, and pairs well with kimchi fries for an extra hit of fermented veggie goodness.

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Sean Cooley/Thrillst
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Double cheeseburger

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Johnny’s Grill
 
Neighborhood/Location
Logan Square
Description

You can thank new chef/owner Sarah Jordan (Boka, Cicchetti) for resurrecting this iconic greasy spoon, and with it, a juicy, no-frills burger. The double-patty wonder comes layered with melty sharp cheddar, Dijonnaise, pickles, and onion, and you can eat it inside a converted flower shop.

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RPM Steak
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Truffle Burger

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RPM Steak
 
Neighborhood/Location
River North
Description

RPM Steak’s luxury, lunch-only burger may be a far cry from a greasy spoon grill but the substance is certainly there. The burger features a thick grass-fed beef patty, aromatic truffle aioli, brioche bun, and a generous pat of foie gras compound butter, and comes with a side of house-cut fries.

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Char Burger "with everything"

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Edzo’s Burger Shop
 
Neighborhood/Location
Evanston
Description

Don’t let its humble fast-food burger joint looks fool you: at Edzo’s, all the beef is ground in-house daily, all the fries are hand-cut, and all the shakes are hand-dipped. You can’t go wrong with anything you order, but the fully loaded (ketchup, mustard, pickle, onion, lettuce, tomato) half-pound Char Burger -- with obligatory fries and shake -- is really where it’s at.

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Oak + Char
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Prime double cheeseburger

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Oak & Char
 
Neighborhood/Location
River North
Description

It’s no secret that the MSG Wings at this Downtown hotspot are finger-lickin’ fantastic, but its prime beef burger is actually one of River North’s best-kept secrets. The secret to this secret? Delightfully greasy beef fat onion rings, bourbon pickles, and plenty of C&D sauce (a nod to the “cease and desist” letter the restaurant received from the folks at Kraft Foods for originally labeling it “house-made A1 sauce”).

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A10
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The burger

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A10
 
Neighborhood/Location
Hyde Park
Description

Finally, an answer to those post-night-out Sunday morning burger cravings: A10’s brunch/Happy Hour-only burger with pork jowl bacon, cheese, mustard jam, and a brioche bun; this unique spin is prime for soaking up the remnants of last nights’ questionable decisions.

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Juicy Lucy

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Dusek’s
 
Neighborhood/Location
Pilsen
Description

With a shiny new Michelin star in tow, this Pilsen favorite has plenty to be proud of, not least of which is its aptly named cheese-stuffed burger. The Slagel Farm beef patty comes covered in smoky red onion bacon marmalade atop a house-baked pretzel bun with butter lettuce and tomato, and a heaping side of beef-fat fries makes for an irresistible accompaniment.

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The Gallows Pole 

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BRGRBELLY
 
Neighborhood/Location
Portage Park, Gladstone Park
Description

The original Leadbelly moniker may have bit the dust in a trademark dispute, but no squad of lawyers will get BRGRBELLY to cease and desist making top-notch burgers. Rock on with The Gallows Pole, a 7oz ground beef and pork belly burger with smashed taters, Swiss, and bearnaise sauce sandwiched by a house-baked sesame seed bun that pairs nicely with garlic Parmesan fries. 

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DryHop
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The Burger

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DryHop Brewers
 
Neighborhood/Location
Lakeview
Description

Nothing pairs better with a heady glass (or flight) of craft brews than a burger, and at this local brewpub, said burger happens to be a knockout custom-blend patty with ancho chile-tomato jam, arugula, pickled sweet onions, and a velvety blanket of raw milk cheddar.

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Kailley Lindman
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Pimento cheeseburger

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Formento’s
 
Neighborhood/Location
West Loop
Description

Originally intended as a short-term special, this pimento cheese-stuffed masterpiece was so popular that it was eventually promoted to permanent lunch menu status. The pimento cheese-stuffed patty is topped with Lambrusco onions and creamy Dijon and is nestled between a pillowy potato bun, and comes with your choice of salt & vinegar chips or broccoli salad.

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The Bad Apple
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El Chupacabra

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The Bad Apple
 
Neighborhood/Location
North Center
Description

There’s no shortage of inventive burgers at this craft beer-focused bar and grill, but thanks to a generous helping of braised goat cheese, the El Chupacabra takes the cake. Guac, roasted garlic puree, and white cheddar round it out.

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Trenchermen
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Trench Double Burger

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Trenchermen
 
Neighborhood/Location
Wicker Park
Description

Pair a craft cocktail or three with the traditional -- but far from boring -- Trench Double Burger at this trendy Wicker Park destination. Aged cheddar and bread & butter pickles are the only fixin's it requires -- the juicy meat does the rest.

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Kailley Lindman is a contributing writer for Thrillist Chicago, as well as a freelance food photographer, food blogger at KailleysKitchen.com, and recovering vegetarian. Follow her at @KailleysKitchen.
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1. Owen & Engine 2700 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

Named partly for the owner's nephew and partly for the four cask engines pouring small-batch beers, O&E's a 60-seat Anglopub covered wall to wall in dark wood & leather and serving flavors from all corners of the Isles, from England, to Scotland, to Ireland.

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2. Acadia 1639 S Wabash, Chicago, IL 60616

Because commuting outside of the city doesn't have much upside other than cheap gas and the classy sensuality of Polekatz billboards, the chef who most recently helmed suburban standout Courtright's is taking his fine-dining chops to Acadia. Tucked away in his own South Loop 'hood, it's appointed with a cozy, up-front lounge backed by a high-ceiling, creamy-toned dining room and open kitchen, which is totally cool with your frequent trips to Polekatz.

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3. Bottlefork 441 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

This stylish American bar and kitchen cooks up locally sourced, globally-inspired fare and pours a host of delicious 'tails.

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4. Mindy's Hot Chocolate 1747 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

Don't be fooled, there's hot choco errrwhere at Mindy's but there's also good food like whole roasted market fish, Roman gnocchi, and steak. If you have a giant sweet tooth, we suggested you get that checked out but also order a housemade doughnut with some Mexican hot cocoa.

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

Au Cheval is one sparkling spoon. Like, it's your grandma's sterling silver soup ladle. With an open kitchen and a bar hugging it, this European-flared diner-style grubspot is doling out impressive meals and Chicagoans are lapping it up.

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

Don't worry, this isn't some mechanics station. This is a friendly Logan Square burger joint slinging classic meat discs, sides, and desserts like root beer floats!

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7. Seven Lions 130 S. Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603

Elegant yet approachable, this new American clubhouse concept from Master Sommelier Alpana Singh (The Boarding House) is exactly what its Michigan Ave space called for. Chef Chris Curren’s menu is equal parts accessible and inspired, with starters ranging from fried chicken skins and pickles paired with sriracha mustard to Brussels sprout and burrata toast. Entrées run the gamut from comforting short ribs to perfectly flaky black cod with acorn squash, ricotta gnocchi, and Maitake mushrooms. And don't worry, there's alcohol, starting with Singh’s curated list of all-American wines.

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8. bopNgrill 6604 N Sheridan Rd, Chicago, IL 60626

bopNgrill is a Chicago Korean fast-casual joint with killer kimchi fries, umami-tinged burgers, and more.

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9. Johnny's Grill 2545 N Kedzie Blvd, Chicago, IL 60647

A year after Logan Square lost Johnny's, chef/owner Sarah Jordan brought the spot back. While keeping the red stools and classic charm, she also added more dining space and updated the menu. Now it features elevated versions of diner favorites, including a house-made pop tart.

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10. RPM Steak 66 W Kinzie St, Chicago, IL 60654

From the Melman brothers and Giuliana and Bill Rancic comes RPM Steak, an ultra-modern steakhouse just a few blocks from their other restaurant, RPM Italian.

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11. Edzo's Burger Shop 1571 Sherman Ave, Evanston, IL 60201

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, then pressed and griddled (you can throw on fancy extras like a fried egg or giardiniera). There are nine different varieties of french fry combos and $5 milkshakes (that are actually $4).

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12. Oak + Char 217 W Huron St, Chicago, IL 60654

Staying true to its name, the space sports plenty of oak, as well as billowy light fixtures that look like plumes of smoke. Feast on ultra-flavorful "M.S.G." wings (trust us, it’s not what you think) and a smoky double-patty burger, or go big with a market price 32oz bone-in ribeye served with bone marrow and sauce Perigueux on a badass wooden board.

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13. A10 1462 East 53rd St, Chicago, IL 60615

A10 is one of the best places to indulge in creme brulee, on-tap cocktails, and awesome brews. Not particularly in that order.

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14. Dusek's 1227 W 18th St, Chicago, IL 60608

Dusek's, helmed by Longman & Eagle's Jared Wentworth, serves up hearty food (think burgers with bacon marmalade on a pretzel bun) from a FOUR-PART menu. Choose your adventure!

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15. BRGRBelly 5739 W Irving Pk Rd, Chicago, IL 60634

Formerly known as Leadbelly, BRGRBelly serves up comfort food options with gourmet flair. The burgers, meant to give you your own lead belly, include patties topped with crab cakes and slathered in béarnaise sauce, fries topped with pork belly, and 40+ craft beers.

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16. Dryhop Brewers 3155 N Broadway St, Chicago, IL 60657

Dryhop Brewers is more than just a great brewery; it's also an American-style brewpub that serves bacon-wrapped scallops and other crazy fare to go along with their awesome brews.

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17. Formento's 925 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607

This throwback Italian restaurant is offering everything from giardiniera fritta to rigatoni alla vodka to a jaw-dropping 42-oz prime bistecca fiorentina.

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18. The Bad Apple 4300 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

From the team behind Menagerie and Cooper's, TBA is a comfortable neighborhood tavern decked with stained glass, murals of wintry trees, and a dim game room/lounge (shuffleboard, pinball, and so forth).

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19. Trenchermen 2039 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

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 that still captures the comfort of the food that used to be served on the premises. Oh, and 30+ beers on tap.

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