By Mason Johnson
1724 South River Road
Des Plaines, IL
Yes, I know, Paradise Pup is in the suburbs. Why dontchya cry about it?
No, go ahead, just let it all out. I’ll wait.
Paradise Pup is a roadside burger and dog stand in Des Plaines that has been praised by, well, everyone. When I say everyone, I mean all those TV personalities you really freakin’ hate.
Like Guy Fieri, who makes me wish I could vomit acid into the faces of those I hate.
Regardless of the company Paradise Pup attracts, it’s one of the best fast food joints in… existence. But are their burgers some of the best in the Chicago(land) area? I think I know just the gluttonous martyr to find out.
Me. I’m the martyr I’m talking about…
To find out what standards I’m using to judge Paradise Pup, read this article.
It’s great! Good meat that’s definitely been taken care of.
One thing Paradise Pups excels at with their burgers that a lot of restaurants screw up is the “charred” aspect. A lot of places will char your burger to oblivion and you’ll essentially get a heap of charcoal between buns. Some restaurants don’t grill their burgers enough, and give you a greasy mess that’ll fall apart and moo at you as you eat it.
Paradise Pup knows exactly how charred a burger should be. Their burgers tend to be charred enough to add to the taste, while not taking away from how amazingly juicy their patties are. Their guys seem to have this down to a science, which is appreciated.
Here’s the deal, while Paradise Pup’s burgers are great, one of the big reasons they’re so well known is because of Merkts Cheddar. So if you go to Paradise Pup and order anything but the cheddar burger, you are a bad human being.
It’s a cheddar spread, nice and thick and kinda grimey, but in a good way. I don’t know of any other places in Chicago using this, but even if there are some (there’s gotta be), they’re probably not able to top the lovely combination Pup’s has perfected with their patties and Merkts cheddar.
Honestly, their fries are barely worth eating without cheddar. Not to say there’s anything wrong with their fries, they’re alright, but the cheese really brings them to the next level.
What else does Paradise Pup have to offer? Plenty, but most notable: their char dogs and shakes. It’s odd, if Paradise Pup’s burgers weren’t so great, it seems like they’d probably end up on a bunch of “best hot dogs in Chicago” lists. And their shakes! Thick or thin, they’ll give you whatever you want. Default though, and I like the default in this case, tends to be so thick you can barely get it through your straw. Last time I went there I got their chocolate banana shake. We’re not talkin’ about that fake banana flavoring that makes you want to retch, we’re talkin’ about real banana. If banana doesn’t interest you, get their Oreo shake, which is just as good.
It’s the hot dog stand you go to when you’re ditchin’ gym in the 10th grade.
It’s small and would be cozy if it weren’t for the fact that it’s always packed. Sure, there’s a few seats underneath a counter, but don’t ever expect to eat there. There will never be enough room. Should we hold this against them? That they’re so popular lines form out the door, even in the winter? No. It’s not their fault they’re awesome and and everyone loves them. Or, well, it is their fault I guess, but we can’t really begrudge them for it.
Anyway, who cares about the ambiance? Get one of their cheddar burgers and eat it in your car.
They’re definitely in my top five burgers in Chicago. Are they number one? I don’t know. Some days, my heart desires nothing but one of their cheddar burgers and a shake. Other days, I’d prefer one of the gigantic bar burgers you can get in many bars in the city. “Best’ is a matter of opinion and taste. This could easily be the best for many people. For me, it’s the best whenever I happen to feel like it.
Regardless, they’re amazing, and everyone should eat there every chance they get.
Want to see me review your favorite burger place? Leave a comment below!
Mason Johnson, CBS Chicago