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
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.
2900 West Belmont Avenue
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
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.
(Or am I?)
The Bad Apple
4300 North Lincoln Avenue
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.
1724 S River Rd
Des Plaines, IL 60018-2253
“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.
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: