Note: Last week AHT contributor Nick Solares shared his top 5 burgers in New York City. This week our Chicago correspondent Daniel Zemans weighs in with his five favorite burgers.
I offer my Top 5 burgers in Chicago list with two disclaimers. First, I have a long ways to go before I would feel qualified to argue that my favorites are also the best—off the top of my head, I know I still need to try burgers from Naha, Hot Chocolate, Custom House, Grafton, and C-House. Second, my list is going to be skewed heavily towards half-pound beasts, which will necessarily exclude outstanding places that sell thinner patties. There are times when thin is in for me, but if I have to pick my favorites, fat is where it's at.
1. David Burke's Primehouse: When Adam wrote his opus on burger styles and noted that most of the AHT staff does not appreciate steakhouse burgers, I wanted to fly them all to Chicago to eat here so they would see the light. From the dry aged beef to shallot and spinach on top to the bacon mayo on the potato bun, this burger is just perfect in every way. [Review] 616 N. Rush Street, Chicago IL 60611 (map); 312-660-6000; jameshotels.com
2. Kuma's Corner: Lost in the drool and awe that takes over when people describe their favorite toppings on a Kuma burger is the fact that this family friendly metal bar consistently puts out a top quality hamburger. The ten ounces of coarsely ground beef, grilled to perfection on all of my visits, would be great on its own. But add on any Kuma's creative and well thought out toppings combinations and that equals one of the best burgers in Chicago. [Review] 2900 W. Belmont Ave, Chicago IL 60618 (map); 773-604-8769; kumascorner.com
3. Rosebud Steakhouse: Another steakhouse that puts out an absolutely delicious burger. This place is the seventh (out of 10) entry in the Rosebud restaurant family and the burger has been so successful that every one of them, including the original Italian place, sells the burger. Weighing in at 12 ounces and served on a nice pretzel roll, this one disappoints nobody. 192 East Walton Street, Chicago, IL 60611 (map); 312-397-1000; rosebudrestaurants.com
4. Select Cut Steakhouse: I can't begin to count the number of times I walked by this place before I even noticed that there was a steakhouse hidden in plain site in Lakeview. Almost surely the best burger in the country available at a place with a hardware store on one side and a nail salon on the other, this half pound hunk of freshly ground steak trimmings is the biggest bargain in my top 5 at $8.50. 2808 N. Halsted, Chicago IL 60657 (map); 773-244-1500; selectcut.com
5. Hackney's: Maybe it's because it was one of the first restaurant burgers I ever had; maybe because it's because I still get a little excited about the option of eating buffalo; and maybe it's because of the fantastic brick of fried onions that are required eating for everyone who sets foot into Hackney's. Whatever the reason, these freshly ground patties, typically served on dark rye, retain a special place in my heart and my Top 5. That said, it's been about five years since I've been there and I have a very strong suspicion that the reality will not live up to my memory. 1241 Harms Rd, Glenview, IL 60025 (map); 847-724-5577; hackneys.net