During my three years of covering Chicago for A Hamburger Today, I had the pleasure of eating an impressive array of the area's burgers. Some were good, some were not so good, and more than a few were simply outstanding. Here's a reminder of the 15 best.
The Pig Mac comes with three different kinds of pork on a glistening, toasted, eggy challah bun that's, naturally, topped with sesame seeds. The top half of the sandwich includes two pig parts, pork loin and bacon, along with the requisite special sauce, pickles and lettuce.
All too often, steakhouses serve burgers unworthy of a restaurant thoroughly devoted to beef. At Chicago Cut Steakhouse, that is decidedly not the case. The massive burger, made from a blend of dry-aged beef, is worthy of one of the better steakhouses in Chicago.
Wiener and Still Champion is known for four things: great old school char burgers, an insane collection of fried foods, creative sauces, and stellar fries. The Faux Poutine Burger brings all of that together in one over the top and extremely messy meal.
The reinvention of street food by chefs with a fine dining background continues at The Peasantry, the new restaurant from the team behind Franks 'n Dawgs. The entire menu consists of low-brow classics, from chicken wings to pigs in a blanket to, naturally, burgers. While the lamb burger didn't knock my socks off, the intensely flavorful beef and bone marrow burger is unquestionably a winner.
From the West Randolph Street location to the upscale diner menu, almost everything about Au Cheval is textbook 2012 trendiness. But the burgers, genuine throwbacks to the days before custom beef blends and overindulgent toppings, star some of the best griddled patties to be had in Chicago.
No matter what happens, Nellcôte, the newest hot spot in Chicago's West Loop, is going to be known as the only restaurant that makes pizza from flour ground in-house. From the looks of things, Chef Jared Van Camp is already making some very good pizza and could be on the way to having something truly special.
The fact that all pizzas from The Rolling Stonebaker are made in fully operational mid-century Studebakers should be enough to get anyone to try the place once. That the pizzas are delicious and creative is why people keep going back.
There is no question that chef Kevin Hickey has the skills to blow minds with his cooking. And from personal experience, I know he can make as good of a burger as anyone in Chicago. But the burger at Allium, while good, is not going to rock anyone's world. The miso butterscotch milkshake, on the other hand, will make you want to take up residence in the Four Seasons.
If the Sweets and Snacks Expo were a country, it would be called Awesomeland. About the size of three football fields, the Expo brings together candy manufacturers and distributors from all over the world for their biggest opportunity of the year to find new customers and reconnect with existing ones. The best part? Every single one of them brings samples.
For thirty years, visitors to Ann Arbor, Michigan, have gone home a little sad because they know their hometown doesn't have anything quite like Zingerman's Deli. Well, Zingerman's Roadhouse might be even better.
In a world where so many pizza creation stories are debatable (if not outright myths), the history of Detroit-style pizza is surprisingly clear. There is no dispute that Gus Gurra introduced the city to its signature pizza style when he added pizza to the menu of his bar, Buddy's. Guerra sold his business in the early 1950s, but went on to found Cloverleaf.
Early every Friday night all summer, both locations of Marczyk Fine Foods—Denver's premier gourmet food shop and deli—give their respective neighborhoods a little burger gift. Much more "elevated backyard cookout" than "fancy-pants burger" offering, it's a tradition the people of Denver are lucky to have.
In the food world, Garfield Ridge on the southwest side of Chicago is fairly unexplored territory. But the locals there swear by Obbie's Pizza, a delivery and carry-out only hole in the wall that's been making customers happy since 1977. While my hope that I'd stumble on a place that should be a city-wide legend did not materialize, I did have some solid pizza.
Back before "slider" became a term to describe any small burger made out of any kind of meat, the word referred to small beef patties, steamed and seared on a griddle and served with a grilled onions on a cheap white bun. These delicious bits of nostalgia are all too rare in most of the country, but the tradition lives on in Detroit.
Each time I go to Baconfest Chicago, I'm blown away by the enthusiasm and creativity shown by chefs from throughout Chicagoland. Over 100 chefs spent part of their Saturday to serve up food to 3000 of the most devoted bacon lovers ever gathered in one place. It was over the top, obscenely gluttonous, and magnificent in every way.
Since 1980, Piero's Pizza has been satisfying pizza cravings in the northern suburb of Highland Park. After trying two of the five styles of pizza on the menu, I was left wondering if there's something about the place I just didn't get.
Take a blend of short rib, sirloin and skirt steak, grind it in-house, allow a thick crust to form without overcooking, top it with some excellent bacon from Gunthorp Farms, a robust cheddar from Wales, and some lightly fried onions, and you're going to understand what kind of quality justifies a Michelin star.
With a location steps from the Magnificent Mile and across the street from Water Tower, Chef Tony Mantuano's Bar Toma would be doing extraordinarily well based on his star power and the location, even if the restaurant served frozen dinners. Fortunately, Mantuano did not rest on his laurels, delivering some seriously delicious pizzas that should have locals fighting tourists for tables.
Under normal circumstances, a bait and switch is a terrible thing. But when you order an egg sandwich and end up with a pulled pork sandwich with a couple of eggs on top, all is right in the world.
From the extraordinary blend of flavorful quality beef to the house-made bun to perhaps the best cheddar available on a burger anywhere, everything about the hamburgers at Owen & Engine is unimpeachable. In the ongoing debate over who has the best burger in Chicago, this one has to be part of the discussion.
A visit to St. Petersburg, Florida is not complete without trying at least one grouper sandwich. The only challenge is figuring out where to go since seemingly every restaurant in town sells them. Let me make it easy for you; go to Mid Peninsula Seafood Market & Restaurant.
Without some help, brie is too mild to be the centerpiece of a delicious sandwich. But as the grilled brie at Southport Grocery shows, when joined by sauteed mushrooms and served on outstanding focaccia, the creamy delight can be a critical component of something pretty special.
Q's Restaurant & Pizzeria has served the people of Hillside for well over 50 years and exudes old school pizzeria charm. But Q's is an exemplar of how legendary suburban pizzerias can live on in greatness due to nostalgia more than the pizza.
Bongo Room is, rightfully, known for having some of the best pancakes in Chicago. But if you find yourself there and in a mood for something savory, this beef tenderloin and portobello sandwich is eagerly waiting to be eaten.
Here's a list of all the burger styles we could think of--fast-food, fast-food style, sliders, mini burgers (yes, there's a distinction between diminutive burgers), steakhouse, fancypants, and many, many more.
I come back often to Rick Bayless and his fantastic Mexican Everyday. Before he gets into ingenious tacos, slow-cooker beans, and the perfect rice, he has a short section of salad dressings. It may seem like he personally created these...
The newest addition to the line up of sweet fried dough at Doughnut Plant on the Lower East Side is none other than a crème brûlée-inspired creation. The doughnut was first brought to note in mid-November in the New...
In the world of charcoal grilling, there's no more fundamental and fiercely debated topic than lump charcoal vs. briquettes. Being the building block for everything you grill, it's no wonder that grill masters around the world will defend their choice with extreme passion. So, you might ask, "Which is the reigning champ?" Well, there really is no easy answer.