Owen & Engine | Sean Cooley/Thrillist

Slagel Farm beef burger

Owen & Engine

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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.

Kuma's Corner/Kuma's Too | Sean Cooley/Thrillist


Kuma’s Corner/Kuma’s Too

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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.

anthony tahlier/Acadia Chicago

Acadia burger


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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.

Bottlefork | Rockit Ranch Productions

Wood grilled ground bacon burger


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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.

Mindy's Hot Chocolate | Jim Vondruska/Thrillist


Mindy’s Hot Chocolate

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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.


Single cheeseburger

Au Cheval 

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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 

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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

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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 | Jim Vondruska/Thrillist

Kimchi burger


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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.

Johnny's Grill | 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.

Edzo's Burger Shop | Sean Cooley/Thrillist

Char Burger "with everything"

Edzo’s Burger Shop

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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) 1/2lb Char Burger -- with obligatory fries and shake -- is really where it’s at.

Dusek's | Sean Cooley/Thrillist

Juicy Lucy


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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.

BRGRBELLY | Sean Cooley/Thrillist

The Gallows Pole 


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. 


The Burger

DryHop Brewers

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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.

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 (edited)

Trench Double Burger


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.


Blanchard burger

The Blanchard

Address and Info

Lincoln Park

Modernist interpretations of classic French preparations may be the name of the game at this stylish brasserie, but that doesn’t stop chef/owner Jason Paskewitz from crafting a game-changing prime beef burger. The massive yet refined dish towers high with thick slab bacon, smooth and creamy butterkase cheese, and shallot confit on a brioche bun brushed with garlic aioli.

MAD SOCIAL | Kailley Lindman

MAD burger

MAD Social

Address and Info

West Loop

This neighborhood kitchen has gained an impressive reputation for eats that toe the line between chef-y masterpiece and gluttonous gut-bomb -- as anyone who's tried the fried chicken and churro waffle can attest -- and its signature burger is no exception. A hefty house-ground wagyu patty is indubitably the star, but punchy ingredients like chihuahua cheese, pork belly, cajun-spiced onion strings, MAD mayonnaise, house pickles, and baby arugula command a slice of the limelight, too. The result: an impeccably balanced burger that'll satisfy traditionalists and gourmands equally.



Top Notch Beefburgers

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They're not called hamburgers because there's no ham in them. Expect to hear grandpa jokes of this caliber from neighboring booths should you dine in Top Notch during the day with the local ROMEOs (Retired Old Men Eating Out). The time capsule of a burger, an approachable half-pounder, is made from beef hocks ground in-house daily, run through a patty machine, and barely seasoned at all. The end result accentuates the cheese and grilled onions and pairs well with the beef fat fries that are akin to Five Guys -- although predating them by about 45 years.

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1. Owen & Engine 2700 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 (Logan Square)

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.

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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)

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."

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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)

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.

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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, in short, a Korean-American fast-food joint. The menu is split between plates (chicken katsu and marinated beef bulkogi) and burgers, like the umami-loaded Duxelle burger with sundried tomato confit, mayo, bacon, and smoked gouda. Trust us: BopNgrill's fusion creations will convert you to the kimchi-and-barbecue-based ways of Korean cuisine.

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9. Johnny's Grill 2545 N Kedzie Blvd, Chicago, IL 60647 (Logan Square)

The original Johnny's Grill was a greasy spoon fixture for years before its lease ended in 2014. A year later, chef/owner Sarah Jordan (Boka, Blackbird, Cicchetti) opened a same-but-different Johnny's in the exact location that's both an homage to the original and a total upgrade. The space and menu is still very much a diner with all formica everything, but there's now a bar, patio, and creative comfort dishes like house-made pop tarts, extra crispy fish & chips, and a sharp double cheeseburger that joins the ranks of the best in Chicago.

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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'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.

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12. 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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13. 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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14. Dryhop Brewers 3155 N Broadway St, Chicago, IL 60657 (Lakeview)

Dryhop Brewers is more than just a brewery; it's complete pub with great food like bacon-wrapped scallops, skillet mac & cheese, and buttermilk fried chicken. Brewmaster Brant Dubovick has brewed more than 150 in-house beers since the Lakeview spot opened in 2013, and the styles range from seasonal IPAs to traditional Belgian farmhouse ales.

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15. The Bad Apple 4300 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60618 (Lincoln Square)

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.

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16. 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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17. The Blanchard 1935 N Lincoln Park W, Chicago, IL 60614 (Lincoln Park)

This dining destination in Lincoln Park serves French classics with just enough whimsy to keep things interesting and just enough elegance to make it feel like an occasion. The menu features classics like escargots, steak frites, and mussels, but the highlight is by far the section dedicated to foie gras. The 100-seat space feels more modern than the typical Parisian brasserie with white tablecloths, leather chairs, and abstract art finishes.

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18. MAD Social 1140 W Madison St, Chicago, IL 60607 (West Loop)

If you're looking for a restaurant to impress friends, get drinks with co-workers, or take a hot date, West Loop's Mad Social should be at the top of your list. The menu features a serious selection of cured meats and cheeses, so assemble your charcuterie plate and settle into one of the leather banquettes with a vodka cocktail. The real stunner is the burger, stacked high with crispy onion rings and served with deliciously greasy fries because honestly, why choose one side?

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19. Top Notch Beefburgers 2116 W 95th St, Chicago, IL 60643 (Beverly)

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.