The 18 best burgers in Chicago, according to us.Less
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.
This Logan Square pub reopened after being closed for two years, so this might be the best burger you've been missing. The brisket, short rib, and chuck patty at Owen & Engine is incredible—it’s thick, and the caramelized-onion-to-meat ratio is as good as it gets. (Translation: there are a ton of caramelized onions on this thing, and we love it.) Plus, the laid-back gastropub environment will make you want to stay and hang out for a while.
This isn’t a beauty contest, it’s a best burger guide. Good thing, because the burgers at The Region are kind of ugly. This is due to their rather unsightly flattened patties that extend past the edges of the bun. But it’s those edges that make the burgers here so special. They’re pressed really thin on a flat top grill (this style of burger is popular in northwest Indiana, a.k.a. The Region), so the meat has maximum possible caramelization, but also somehow stays juicy.
This burger is a wonderful, sloppy addition to Chicago’s meat and cheese scene. The “Shiddy Burger” (we’re ignoring the ironic name and suggest you do the same) from Big Kids in Logan Square is a smashburger that’s similar to the ones at The Region - meaning the griddled patties have lacy caramelized edges, and are smooshed on a flat top within an inch of their life. And despite that extreme smooshing, the meat still maintains plenty of juiciness.
You might not consider a “loose meat sandwich” to be eligible for this list, and we respect that. But it's our guide, and the Maidwrong at Tribecca’s is a wonderfully sloppy, delicious cheeseburger. And the combo of melted muenster, charred bits of savory ground beef, sweet onions, steak sauce aioli, and mustard on a griddled buttery bun makes us want to sign a petition to replace future smash patties with loose meat, instead.
Hiding among the dumplings, scallion pancakes, and dan dan noodles at Community Tavern in Portage Park is an incredible burger. And while it doesn’t sound complicated - just two patties, American cheese, caramelized onions, and a spicy sauce - we promise it’s a must-order. What makes the burger at this upscale bar so special is that it’s a marvel of careful engineering. From the top down it goes: bun, sauce, pickles, cheese, patty, cheese, patty, onion, sauce, bun.
In a world filled with wagyu burgers, nothing is quite as satisfying as a straightforward burger you can eat with one hand that costs $5 and comes with fries. That’s what you’ll find at Red Hot Ranch, which has locations in Lakeview, Bucktown, and on 35th street. This cash-only spot has a short menu of mostly burgers, and what you want to get is the Red Hot Double. It’s two patties, pickles, LTO, and American cheese on a squishy bun that practically melts in your mouth.
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.
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).
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.