Chicago's Best Burgers: The Definitive Guide
Chicago
Sean Cooley/Thrillist
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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

Slagel Farm beef burger

Owen & Engine

(address and info)

Logan Square

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.

Sean Cooley/Thrillist

Neurosis

Kuma’s Corner/Kuma’s Too

(address and info)

Avondale/Lakeview

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.

Acadia Chicago

Acadia Burger

Acadia

(address and info)

South Loop

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.

Rockit Ranch Productions

Wood Grilled Ground Bacon Burger

Bottlefork

(address and info)

River North

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.

Hot Chocolate Chicago

Hamburger

Mindy’s Hot Chocolate

(address and info)

Bucktown

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.

KARI SKAFLEN/HOGSALT

Single cheeseburger

Au Cheval 

(address and info)

West Loop

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.

Courtesy of Parts & Labor

Classic double

Parts & Labor 

(address and info)

Logan Square

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.

Courtesy of Seven Lions

7L Cheeseburger

Seven Lions

(address and info)

Loop

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.

BopNGrill

Kimchi Burger

bopNgrill

(address and info)

Rogers Park, Lakeview

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.

Sean Cooley/Thrillst

Double cheeseburger

Johnny’s Grill

(address and info)

Logan Square

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.

RPM Steak

Truffle Burger

RPM Steak

(address and info)

River North

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.

Sean Cooley/Thrillist

Char Burger "with everything"

Edzo’s Burger Shop

(address and info)

Evanston

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.

Oak + Char

Prime double cheeseburger

Oak & Char

(address and info)

River North

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”).

A10

The burger

A10

(address and info)

Hyde Park

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.

Sean Cooley/Thrillist

Juicy Lucy

Dusek’s

(address and info)

Pilsen

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.

Sean Cooley/Thrillist

The Gallows Pole 

BRGRBELLY

(address and info)

Portage Park, Gladstone Park

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. 

DryHop

The Burger

DryHop Brewers

(address and info)

Lakeview

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.

Kailley Lindman

Pimento cheeseburger

Formento’s

(address and info)

West Loop

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.

The Bad Apple

El Chupacabra

The Bad Apple

(address and info)

North Center

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.

Trenchermen

Trench Double Burger

Trenchermen

(address and info)

Wicker Park

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 (Logan Square)

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 (South Loop)

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.

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3. Bottlefork 441 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654 (Near North Side)

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 (Wicker Park)

Pastry chef Mindy Segal's Bucktown restaurant is synonymous with comfort food from both the sweet and savory sides of the spectrum. Open for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch, Mindy's Hot Chocolate serves soul-warming dishes, like the Slagel Farm beef burger topped with a fried egg, creamy mac & cheese, and daily soups with crusty sourdough bread. Of course, a meal here isn't complete without dessert, which should include an order of the amazingly rich hot chocolate and a slice of the daily cake (or anything off the dessert menu -- it's all addictive).

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5. Au Cheval 800 W Randolph, Chicago, IL 60607 (West Loop)

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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6. Parts and Labor 2700 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 (Logan Square)

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 (Loop)

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 (Rogers Park)

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 (Logan Square)

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 (River North)

Located in River North, this sophisticated steakhouse collaboration between the Melmans, Rancics, and Chef Doug Psaltis effortlessly bridges the gap between old and new school. The black truffle burger topped with rich foie gras butter is one of the most luxurious power lunch options in town, while the expertly crafted cocktails, vegetable sides, steaks, and table-side baked Alaska share the spotlight at dinner.

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11. Edzo's Burger Shop 1571 Sherman Ave, Evanston, IL 60201 (Lincoln Park)

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 are pressed and griddled, and you can throw on fancy extras like a fried egg or giardiniera. The burgers are made even better with nine different varieties of French fry combos and $5 milkshakes.

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12. Oak + Char 217 W Huron St, Chicago, IL 60654 (River North)

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 (Hyde Park)

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 (Pilsen)

Helmed by Longman & Eagle's Jared Wentworth, this Michelin-starred restaurant in Pilsen serves upscale American pub food. Dusek's takes everything you love and makes it better, whether that's cooking French fries in beef fat or topping a juicy hamburger with bacon marmalade and serving it on a house-baked pretzel bun. There are more than two dozen beers on tap -- some are from Chicago, others are from abroad -- and daily beer specials. The late-night menu serves the aforementioned burger and fries until 1am every night.

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15. BRGRBelly 5739 W Irving Pk Rd, Chicago, IL 60634 (Portage Park)

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.

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

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 (West Loop)

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 (Lincoln Square)

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 (Wicker Park)

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.

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