Best Of Chicago

Top Five Burger Places: I’m Right (And You’re Wrong)

November 7, 2011 2:00 PM

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Alternative title for this article: There Will Be Blood. Possibly my blood when I don’t include your favorite burger place on this list. Listen, I realize people feel very strongly about their favorite burger place. It’s understandable. Just please, for the love of Jeebus, wait until the end of the article to attempt to stab me with a twelve-year-old, rusty, miniature Swiss Army Knife.

Or, better yet, don’t stab me at all.

Top Notch Beef Burgers

2116 West 95th Street
Chicago, IL 60643-1118
(773) 445-7218 ‎

Top Notch has been a neighborhood favorite for a long time, standing the test of time while all these new, kitschy places with their fancy-schmancy toppings and crazy burger names pop up outta nowhere. Their burgers are classic and simple, their shining quality being the fact that Top Notch grinds their own beef at the restaurant, allowing them to add that extra little love to each burger.

Love in a metaphorical sense – not literally. That’s not legal.

img 0084 Top Five Burger Places: I’m Right (And You’re Wrong)


Kuma’s Corner

2900 West Belmont Avenue
Chicago, IL

Yeah, I get it, Kuma’s is hip and popular and EVERYONE knows about it at this point. Fact still remains, they make great burgers, and are therefore on this list. Deal with it.

Kuma’s is, of course, the metal bar with superb burgers. It’s not the place you go to have a great conversation–the music makes sure of that–it’s the place you go to in order to eat a monstrous burger, dammit. They’ve got a whole army of burgers, each named after a metal band. My favorite is the Led Zeppelin, which includes pulled pork, bacon, cheddar and pickles. Other burgers are even more diverse, like the Iron Maiden, which includes avocado, or the Megadeth, with its chorizo and red potato hash and pico de gallo. Go to their website for a full list of their insane burgers.

Also, a question for you, dear reader: what do you think of Kuma’s signature burger? Bacon, cheddar and a fried egg, simple enough. I feel it’s perfectly acceptable, being a burger that would have mass appeal. My longtime friend Tom Schumacher, who is a vile human being, feels otherwise. Tell him how wrong he is.

DMK Burger Bar

2954 North Sheffield Avenue
Chicago, IL

DMK has great ice cream sandwiches, which has nothing to do with burgers, and therefore I shouldn’t talk about them, but I suddenly wish this article was about ice cream sandwiches instead of burgers.


Their burgers are great too. They’re artisans of the burger, offering a long list of burgers that’ll please any meat eater; a list that is the more sophisticated version of Kuma’s metal-inspired offerings. This is also a place that really prides themselves on their veggie burgers, making it friendly for those of us who have friends who are wusses. Yes, that’s right, if you don’t eat meat, you are a wuss.

Just joking!

(Or am I?)

1 Top Five Burger Places: I’m Right (And You’re Wrong)


The Bad Apple

4300 North Lincoln Avenue
Chicago, IL

As much as I like Kuma’s Led Zeppelin burger, I like Bad Apple’s Big Texan more. Another burger with pulled pork, it also has fried onion rings, some great BBQ sauce and–my favorite part–Texas toast. Not to say that Bad Apple is better as a whole, both have amazing burger menus that’ll satiate your meaty needs, I just wanted a reason to mention another burger with pulled pork on it.

I love pulled pork.

Besides tasty burgers and a superb beer last, Bad Apple is also a great place to hang out. It’s large and roomy (though still gets packed), with a lot to keep you and your ten closest friends entertained. They’re also known for their fries, mostly because of their homemade ketchup. Personally, I prefer the overly sugared, chemically enhanced, mutant, generic stuff, but many others seem to love Bad Apple’s.

Paradise Pup

1724 S River Rd
Des Plaines, IL 60018-2253
(847) 699-8590

“But Paradise Pup isn’t IN Chicago!”

Thanks, elitists. I had no idea.

No, scratch that, I did have an idea. In fact, I had the whole idea, and guess what? I just didn’t care. Paradise Pup is amazing and I don’t care if it’s in the suburbs, even if that suburb is Des Plaines. It’s that good.

Paradise Pup is just a little stand open during lunchtime. There’ll be a line out the door, but that shouldn’t deter you. Patience is a virtue, jerk. My favorite is a burger with an Oreo shake, which is known to make any day a bajillion times better.

Notable Mentions

Whenever there are winners, there are also losers. While I have never been a loser–I’m pretty amazing–I imagine it must feel kinda, possibly, maybe bad to be left out. So here are the honorable mentions, great places that deserve your attention:

Hamburger Mary’s, David Burke’s Primehouse, Hop Haus, Moody’s, Simone’s and Newport Bar & Grill.

For those of you who think my list is completely wrong, then go vote for the best burger in Chicago in this Pick-a-Side. Don’t see your favorite place there? Then suggest it here, in the comments.

You’re welcome.

Mason Johnson, CBS Chicago
View Comments
  • Nancy J.

    Hamburger Mary’s? First time I tried it, great. Last time there, vowed never to go back. Spotty quality, at best. Sorry, but trust me. I am a burger snob.

  • Zhanna

    Living in Will County I have found Just Toni’s on West Jefferson Street to have fabulous burgers!! Freshly made (not frozen) served on a pretzel roll! YUM!!!!!

    • chefmike73

      They also have the best combo around.

  • Tom Schumacher

    Paradise Pup! WOO HOO!

    • Vicky Kujawa

      OH YES every other burger pales in comparison.

  • Bill H.

    Don’t forget Portillo’s.

  • Kelli Ann MacCord Lotrich

    Well – THE ASSEMBLY in Hoffman Estates is THE BEST…..just saying :0)

  • Laura Blastick

    Up for Grabs in Whiting IN has one of the best burgers on the face of the planet.

  • Martha Davidson

    Where just north and east of the river, north to Chicago Ave??

  • Mario D

    How about Fuddruckers??

  • theweedsreview

    The Burger Bar off of North/Clybourn

  • john c.

    i like mcdonald’s

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    Try my backyard! I make my burgers with a special blend of Angus beef, garlic powder, pepper, and razors.

    • Mason Johnson

      Looks like Jeremiah’s offerin’ to make burgers for everyone, guys! Jeremiah’s house, this weekend, free burgers. See ya there.

  • Nita Virghes

    I agree Top Notch .
    I also agree on Fat Burger has my second choice.

  • Jackie

    Schoops located in Calumet City has the absolutely best burgers. I know it’s not Chicago but it’s just on the out skirts.

  • Vicky Kujawa

    Paradis Pup hands down.

  • Vicky Kujawa

    Why isn’t Paradise Pup in the vote? Are they already #1? (As it should be!)

  • Pj

    I eat out almost 4 days a week and burgers are my favorite, right now the best burgers is in Elgin,Illinois at Chicago public house ,get the Kobe with cheese bacon and shrooms ,guaranteed you will go back in less than three days for another, fast service and great quality very consistent, if this place would have been anywhere else it would be famous best kept secret in burgers.

  • Rosie

    Paradise Pup is the BEST…those guys know what they are doing. I eat there every chance I can!!!

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