Burg (Verb) — To take a hamburger into the mouth and swallow for nourishment and/or pleasure; chew and swallow (hamburger).
Burgin (Adjective) — Having a desire, craving or need for a hamburger; feeling hunger (for a hamburger).
If these terms ever enter common usage, please don’t kill me.
Happy National Hamburger Day! The modern burger, as we know it, was basically invented by White Castle. Yes, it was their sliders that caused this delight to be craved by all of America (though this was in the 1920s, before Crave Cases existed). Before that, burgers were relocated to the sandwich list at restaurants, living side by side with the likes of the PB&J and grilled cheese.
But thanks to White Castle, burgers are now their very own food group (at the top of the pyramid, I believe). With that said, you can do better than White Castle. It is National Hamburger Day after all. Here are a few suggestions…
We’re all tired of hearing about Kuma’s (2900 W Belmont Ave, Chicago) and Kuma’s Too (666 W Diversey Pkwy, Chicago), but it doesn’t seem like we’re tired of eating there. If there were a day to put up with the blaring music and long wait time (though Kuma’s Too, which is bigger, seems to have a much shorter wait), then today is the day. So have a metal themed burger. I’m partial to the Led Zeppelin — can’t say no to pork on a burger. If you’re more in the mood for a burger that might actually fit into your mouth, try the burger at Scofflaw (3201 W Armitage Ave
Chicago). Bucking the giant bar burger trend, Scofflaw gives you a thinner patty with a more basic set of topping options: mustard, lettuce, tomato, onion, American cheese and pickles with onions on the side.
Those stuck in the car this afternoon might want to head over to Paradise Pup (1724 S River Rd, Des Plaines) and, weather permitting, eat a burger as you lean back on the hood of your car. They serve up some of the best char burgers around, made even better with Merkts Cheddar. You can also drive South to Top Notch Beef Burgers (2116 W 95th St, Chicago). A neighborhood treasure, Top Notch does the classic burger like no other. They even grind their own beef, which allows them to add a little extra love to each burger (I think the secret ingredient is love, at least). That’s A Burger (2134 E 71st St, Chicago) will also give you burger bliss. A carryout joint, their double cheeseburger — a greasy pyre of beef, cheddar and grilled onions — is too good to wait till you get home to eat it. You will eat it in the car. You will make a mess.
For the vegetarians out there, celebrate National Hamburger Day at Chicago Diner (3411 N Halsted St, Chicago and 2333 N. Milwaukee Ave Chicago). Completely vegetarian, Chicago Diner is able to make some of the best non-meat dishes around. Though they’ve got a few options for vegetarian burgers, I’m partial to their Cajun Black Bean Burger (spicy black bean veggie patty topped with sauteed onion, mushroom, spinach, tomato, fried jalapeno, cheddar sauce and creole mustard).
My absolute favorite burger, currently at least, can be found at Owen & Engine (2700 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60647). Their patties are an amazing mix of ground chuck, short rib and brisket. This is, without a doubt, a gourmet burger. It might fall apart in your hands, but it tastes too good to care.
Please don’t put ketchup on it. Really.
All you need on this burger are the caramelized onions that come on it. You can add aged cheddar if you want, which won’t ruin it. Go on the right night (Tuesdays) and you’ll get a burger, shot of bourbon and a beer for &15 bucks.
Tell them Mason sent you.
They won’t have any idea who you’re talking about, but it’d make me happy.