Head to one sixtyblue on Thursdays for the Best Burger Bargain in Chicago
1400 W. Randolph Street, Chicago IL 60607 (map); (312) 850-0303; onesixtyblue.com
Cooking Method: Wood-burning grill
Short Order: This excellent specimen is probably the best burger value in Chicago
Want Fries With That? Sadly, no on the regular fries and not worth the money on the overly fatty duck fat fries
Price: $4 plain burger with fries; extra for toppings
The main dining room at one sixtyblue is, if not among the top tier of Chicago's dining destinations for contemporary American fare, certainly in the discussion. Executive Chef Michael McDonald came to one sixtyblue, famously owned by Michael Jordan, with two decades of experience including stints under chef Jean Joho at Everest and at a couple restaurants in the Charlie Trotter empire. But as good as the main dining room may be, it suffers from a fatal flaw as far as AHT is concerned: no burgers.
The recently renovated lounge in the front of the restaurant, however, is burgerlicious as the regular menu (PDF) features two burgers. One, the MJ Burger, comes with bacon, aged cheddar, caramelized shallots and barbecue sauce. The other is the one sixtyblue Bancon and Eggs Burger, which is a patty with house-cured bacon and a fried egg sitting atop some hash browns. Either of those burgers might be fine Friday through Wednesday, but on Thursdays, something special happens in the bar at one sixtyblue.
On Thursdays, one sixtyblue graciously offers what may well be the best burger deal in all of Chicago. For a mere $4, diners are treated to a patty made from Dietzler Farms beef on a pretzel bun and served with a side of fries. Cooked on a wood-burning grill, my allegedly 6-ounce patty (that seemed bigger) was cooked a shade past the requested rare. It came with an exquisite crust around some of the juiciest meat I've had in a while.
The $4 burger comes sans toppings. There are ample add-ons available ranging from a few different cheeses for $2 each to hunk of foie gras for $12. I opted for my old standby, grilled onions and bleu cheese. The sweet onions and mildly tangy cheese did not disappoint and I was left with one excellent if slightly undersalted burger. The bun, a pretzel roll, held up to the abundant juices and added a restrained dose of pretzel flavor. The burger did not blow me away, but it's definitely an excellent specimen.
Sadly, the fries that come with the burger were slightly underdone and not particularly flavorful. While I ordinarily frown on paying extra for fries, since the burger was only $7 including the toppings, I went ahead and splurged on the $8 order of duck fat fries. They were a step up from the regular fries, but while the large slivers of potato had an outer shell that could not have exhibited better crispness, the thick interior absorbed way too much duck fat. On the bright side, the duck fat fries came with three dipping sauces: truffle aioli, chipotle ketchup, and chipotle aioli. All three were good enough to salvage the regular fries and strong enough to balance the extra fat in the duck fries.
But what needed no salvaging whatsoever was the deep fried pickle that came with the burger. Admittedly, I've never had a fried pickle I didn't like, but the extremely crisp and somewhat thick well-seasoned batter balanced the crunchy dill pickle spear as well as any fried pickle I've ever tasted.