Editor's Note: Whether you're a tourist or an office worker in downtown Chicago, you can get sick of eating at chain restaurants all day. So we've started a series to get you the lowdown on where to find a great and affordable lunch.
I'm surprised that we haven't actually covered the food at Epic Burger other than the fries so far, written up by my handsomely bearded colleague, Joe Roy. While I can't grow a beard (does ten extremely creepy hairs count?), I can definitely put food into my face. We'll always have that in common, Joe. We'll always have that.
Epic Burger has been around since 2008, and for those of you who haven't been yet, it's a fast food burger place that puts high-quality ingredients as a top priority. There's six locations scattered around Chicago (and one in Skokie). The menu at Epic Burger is really simple—there's a regular beef burger, a turkey burger, a chicken sandwich, a portobello mushroom sandwich, and a grilled cheese sandwich, along with a few sides and some shakes and smoothies. Simple menus are so much better, aren't they?
The biggest surprise of the day is the turkey burger ($5.99). It's great. The patty is smashed and grilled, and it comes out with those crispy lacy edges that you flat-patty fans love so much. Turkey flavor actually comes out for once, and with cheddar (additional $0.99), bacon (additional $1.19), and avocado (additional $1.00), it comes out to a truly delicious turkey burger that actually tastes like a good fast-food burger. And I'm not just saying that because I set the turkey burger bar so low it hits me in the crotch, either.
I wish the regular burger ($5.99) was as good as the turkey burger. Right off the bat, you can tell that the quality of the ingredients is high, but the beef is missing salt and burger soul. Even with bacon, an over-easy egg (additional $0.79), and cheese, it just falls flat in flavor. I've eaten a lot of burgers at Epic Burger and I've always been slightly disappointed, considering the fact that their ingredients are so good for a fast-food burger joint. Even the great crispy bacon just doesn't cut it. The Epic burger sauce does add a tangy mustardy-mayo combination to liven up the flavors a bit.
The chicken sandwich ($5.99) is just another plain-old dried out chicken breast sandwich. In the entire eating history of Dannis Ree (my secret nickname), I've simply never had a good chicken breast sandwich, so I guess I'm not surprised.
And the fries that Joe wrote about previously, are only okay. They come with a beautiful golden color, but the larger fries tend to come out a little soggy, while the smaller ones come out perfectly crispy. They aren't salted well, either. But if you want, you can order an extra side of Epic sauce to dip them in, which is a fun way to break up their monotony.
The chocolate malt ($3.99) comes with a steep price tag and not a lot of chocolate or malt flavor. I had one even though I'm mildly lactose intolerant (in a noisy way). It reminds me of a Wendy's Frosty in terms of muted chocolate flavor. You're not missing much if you don't order one.
Overall, I see Epic Burger as a place that offers a higher quality fast-food burger with fresh toppings and a healthier spin than the big (gross) players out there. The food tastes like it's just trying not to offend anyone, which isn't bad, but then you're just eating for the sake of living, right? But that turkey burger, that's the one you want.