The 20 best burgers in Chicago, according to us.Less
The burger at The Loyalist in the West Loop is almost as beloved as Au Cheval’s - and for good reason: It’s outstanding. The patty is made from a mixture of chuck, short rib, and bacon, giving it a light, smoky flavor and incredible richness. The cheese is gooey and the caramelized onions are plentiful. In other words, this is a good f*cking burger (and you won’t need to wait two hours to eat it).
When something is as popular as Au Cheval, it’s asking to be taken down a few notches. After all, people love an underdog, and Au Cheval certainly isn’t - at this point, it’s in Tom Brady territory. Ignore the contrarians (and the wait) and recognize greatness when it’s staring you in the face. Or, in this case, when it’s two patties with cheese, pickles, and dijonnaise between a buttery bun begging to enter your face.
This is a spot in Logan Square from the team behind Little Bad Wolf in Andersonville. The LBW burger is on this guide, and it turns out the burger here might be even better, mainly because it comes on a squishy everything bun. And that bun is a perfect delivery system for the two juicy patties, slices of white and yellow American cheese, bacon, garlic aioli, and pickles.
The burgers at Charly’s, a counter-service spot in Hermosa, are exactly the kind of burgers we want when we’re hungover. The patties are a mixture of beef and bacon, which gives them a smoky flavor and keeps things juicy. They’re topped with the perfect amount of American cheese, grilled onions, garlic aioli, and pickles on a squishy bun that holds up to the toppings without spillage. So on second thought, it’s just the kind of burger we want to eat no matter how many drinks we had 12 hours ago.
Burgers have been backyard BBQ staples since Prometheus stole a George Foreman grill from Olympus (so the story goes). But Heffer’s burgers are the perfect example of what happens when a professional is in charge instead of some random dude from the office. Their thick, half-pound brisket burger is smoked to perfection, with a great charred exterior and juicy center. Toppings are minimal, but the American cheese, pickles, red onions, and sweet burger sauce create complexity.
Warlord’s menu changes daily, but within the chaos lies one constant: the burger. The thick dry-aged beef patty is unbelievably juicy, well-seasoned, and has the perfect amount of char. Charred onions and caramelized onion mayo give it a pleasant tang and sweetness, and everything is sandwiched between a squishy bun that feels like memory foam. Cheese? Nope. But you won’t care.
There are two burgers on the menu at Little Bad Wolf (not including their sliders), and both are excellent. But while one is a three-patty affair with onion straws, bacon, and egg (the Wolf Burger), the best one here is the more manageable Bad Burger. It’s straightforward, with two patties, American cheese, pickles, and mayonnaise. This allows the perfectly cooked and well-seasoned meat - a.k.a. the best part of the burgers here - to shine through.
The StopAlong’s bright, retro dining space is full of old Star Wars memorabilia, arcade games, and cartoon paintings of superheroes stuffing their faces with pizza and burgers. And you should do the same because their Stop-In is one of the city’s best smashburgers. The two patties have a great char with just the right amount of saltiness, and they’re perfectly complemented by caramelized onions, pickles, and a tangy combo of special sauce and melty cheese.
There used to be some restrictions regarding the burger at Mott Street: You could only order it while eating at the bar, or on the weekend during brunch. But now you can get it whenever you want. Well, sort off—the cut-off to order is 7pm. Still, we’re eternally grateful for that fact. Not only is the meat perfectly cooked, but the additions of a slightly sweet hoisin mayo and sweet potato “frizzles” make it something worth scheduling your life around.
Burgers and beer have been best friends since the dawn of humankind. Burgers and wine is perhaps a less popular match-up, but it’s a pairing that’s worth exploring at Webster’s in Logan Square. Hiding in a menu full of wine-adjacent dishes like tinned fish and charcuterie is a single burger, which just so happens to be the best thing here. The foundation is simple: a perfectly salty patty gently rests on a buttery brioche bun, tucked underneath a warm blanket of sharp cheddar.