By Mason Johnson
Owen & Engine
2700 North Western Avenue
Chicago, Il 60647
The first thing the bartender asked me after I walked into Owen & Engine was if I wanted the Tuesday burger special: a burger, beer and shot of bourbon.
It’s as if he looked into my soul and instantly knew I was both a glutton and an alcoholic at the same time.
This was a good start to my Owen & Engine adventure. Find out how the rest of my visit went below…
To find out the standards I’m judging Owen & Engine by, read this article.
Holy wow! Ground in-house, Owen & Engine’s patties are an amazing mixture of ground chuck, short rib and brisket. I ordered it medium-rare, and the thing was practically falling apart. Juices covered my plate—not to mention fingers—and the taste was fantastic. Just fantastic. This is one of the best patties I’ve ever had. I am salivating thinking about it now. After I got my burger, I asked for ketchup. I felt like a child the moment I bit into my burger — it didn’t need ketchup. Not one bit. I’d eat this burger sans everything–toppings, bun, condiments, whatever—it’s that good.
This patty is like the first time I fell in love. There was so much good bursting out of me I couldn’t help but fall apart.
I’ll never get that feeling back.
If you want your burger to stay somewhat assembled, you should probably ask for it cooked medium instead of medium-rare.
Now, the bun isn’t a pretezel bun. That’s theoretically unfortunate, but in practice, it worked. They used a house potato bap instead, which was adept at both sucking up the wonderful burger juices while simultaneously avoiding sogginess.
Who needs extras with this burger?
I’ll tell you about it all anyway.
What comes on an Owen & Engine burger? Caramelized onions with a dill pickle on the side. I also added aged cheddar to mine. Owen & Engine isn’t the kind of place that will have a million types of burgers, one with bacon, one with a fried egg, one with whatever-the-hell-else-you-can-think-up (my favorite condiment). I’m sure you can ask for some of that stuff, but it’s not really the point of their burger. What is the point? Well, their burger. They make a great patty, so what’s the use of piling on a million other things that’ll drown that out? To be honest, the things that were added, the cheddar and the caramelized onions, they were barely noticeable amongst the burger juices. And that’s ideal. If you are going to add anything, you’ll want it to support the burger, to come together to create one supertaste, not to make it some layered monstrosity.
The burger also came with fries. In a glass! How novel. The fries were good, especially when dipped in their homemade ketchup, which is better than some of the other homemade ketchups I’ve had in the city, which tend to be bland (this ketchup was nice and sweet).
Owen & Engine has a great draft list too. It seemed that they had about 20 beers on tap alone, along with more bottles than I could count — I really enjoyed the Founders Dirty Bastard I got. If you’re a beer fan, you can’t really go wrong.
Owen & Engine seemed a bit too classy for me as I looked at their website, but that’s not really the case. Their food’s classy, but their atmosphere is pretty comfortable. It’s sparsely lit, but not dark, and even though they play mostly punk and proto-punk, the music is quiet enough to have a decent conversation with someone sitting across from you.
What a great idea. Having the music low enough so people can talk. Crazy.
The staff is very nice. Lots of mustaches and flannel, but that shouldn’t deter you. (That might even encourage some of you, I suppose, if you’re into the kitsch lumberjack sorta thing.)
Owen & Engine is definitely a little expensive. A burger with cheese seems to be about 16 bucks. Thankfully, since I went Tuesday, I got my burger, a glass of Founders Dirty Bastard and a shot of bourbon (possibly Buffalo Trace, I’m a bit addled after drinking it) for about 17 bucks, which is more than fair. (If you forgo the cheese, you can save two bucks.) If you’re as poor as me, it’s not a multiple times a week kinda place, but it’s definitely worth going back to.
Owen & Engine will always be a little too fancy (expensive) for my tastes, but I’m a cheap loser. Regardless, they had one of the best burgers I’ve ever tasted. Owen & Engine definitely makes it into the top five.
They might even be number one.
Go. Check ‘em out. Tell me if I’m wrong.
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