Wednesday, September 18 marks that time of year when we get to hunker down and stuff our mug with red meat and enough cheese to sink a battleship.
Luxe File Chicago rounded up some of the town’s top protein palaces where you can get downright carnivorous on National Cheeseburger Day. #moo
Name: Cheeseburger Au Cheval
The 411: If you’ve been dreaming about breakfast while you’re out to dinner, then Brendan Sodikoff’s unpretentious whopper is the way to go. After biting into two succulent beef patties, heaped high with thick dill pickles, red onions, gooey cheddar cheese and the crown jewel – a perfectly fried egg - you may never want to sleep again.
Name: Fried Egg Truffle Burger
Price: $10.99 (includes home-made french fries or mixed greens)
The 411: If you’re a green freak like we are this sexy River North mancave might be your best pick. Benny’s reduces the carbon footprint with its Earth-friendly "Five Napkin" Fried Egg Truffle Burger, a delicious pairing of USDA Prime Rib Eye-and-New-York-Strip-steak patties, truffle oil-drenched mushrooms and fresh, locally-sourced ingredients from area farms and bakeries like Yuppie Hill Farm, River Valley Ranch and Red Hen Bakery. Not only will you leave appropriately stuffed but feeling a lot like a sustainability superhero, too.
Name: Grilled PQM Short Rib Burger
Price: $15 (served with pommes frites; available for lunch only)
The 411: It’s the same old story: four impossibly creative restaurateurs open an impossibly chic restaurant that celebrates local, farm-fresh ingredients with a take-no-prisoners culinary prowess (and boy do they have the James Beard Awards to prove it). We love the Grilled PQM Short Rib Burger (short for Publican Quality Meats) which offers a decadent heaping of juicy short rib, kale, pickled ramps and a generous schmear of bacon cream cheese atop a sesame brioche bun. As far as haute burgers go, this one is the hottest in town.
Name: Demon’s Delight
Price: $6.95 for a single patty; $7.95/double; $8.95/triple
The 411: How the cronut has lasted this long we don't know but it seems that one Lincoln Park fast food eatery is not ready to give the popular breakfast hybrid its passed due papers. Just the opposite. So how does Devil Dawgs, best known for serving up some of the best hot dogs in the city, able to transform the traditional cronut into an edible art form? By drenching them with maple glaze and chunks of bacon. These little rascals are then stuffed to the point of bursting with one, two or even three beef patties, American cheese and the restaurant's secret Devil Sauce. We're thinking of two words: cholesterol blocker.
Name: Monster Burger
The 411: Some countries test manhood by sending out young men alone into the Australian wilderness for months at a time, others ingest enough hallucinogens to land them in drug rehab – or a Grateful Dead concert. In Chicago, some rites of passage are more culinary than cunning. Take Jake Melnick’s Monster Burger, an eight-pound behemoth worthy of its own zip code, which dares patrons to prove their man meat by eating meat. You won’t win any medals but we guarantee it’s more enjoyable than naked vine-diving (unless you’re into that kind of thing).
Name: Goat Almighty
The 411: When we heard that Stephanie Izard's "ode-to-the-Goat-God" sandwich might be too much of a mouthful, even for fans of the hairy and horny (no, not that one), four-legged creature, we wondered: "Haven't they ever heard of Jeff Corwin"? Then, we realized something extraordinary. With a name like the "Goat Almighty" - an inimitable mashup of BBQ pork, braised beef and goat meat crowned with a hearty helping of onion rings, jalapeños, cheddar cheese and homemade salsa verde on a potato bun - all this juicy, gooey goodness can't be all that baaa-d!
Name: The Warden
Price: $14 (served with hand-cut fries or side salad)
The 411: We aren't going to name favorites - heck, we'd take all these guys with us if we were banned to a deserted island - but if we had to pick one winner for "Breakout Burger", it would be The Warden (and don't ignore the prison reference, we're piling it on strong). This bad boy won't be found on any behind-bars menus but it surely has all the ingredients you'd commit some serious mayhem for - a towering 10 oz. certified Angus beef patty with bacon, leeks, garlic and shallots stuffed with old-school Merkts Cheddar and brimming with fried leeks, shallots and a shot of truffle oil.
Hey, Lockdown jailbait! We have two suggestions for those taking their first trip to this Ukrainian Village resto - seek out and say hello to co-owner and heavy metal fanatic, PJ Zonis (extra points if you tell him you're a fan of Iron Maiden and Metallica) and, most importantly, make sure your lawyer is on speed dial.
Name: Mercat Burger
Price: $13 (includes garlic and smoked paprika-dusted fries)
The 411: If your bank account can’t pop for a business class ticket to Catalonia, Spain, then consider an alternate route to Mercat a la Planxa in Chicago’s South Loop. Chef De Cuisine Cory Morris courts digestive greatness by pairing Black Angus beef with La Peral cheese, padrón peppers and red wine onion jam atop a toasted brioche bun.
Name: The Burger
Price: $8 (includes fries and a Pabst Blue Ribbon)
The 411: Admit it, there are some great perks to being an “All-American”: blinged-out championship rings, self-depicted movie roles and supermodel girlfriends. Public House grabs the spotlight with its own patriotic prizewinner, which includes the usual burger-buffet essentials (shredded lettuce, raw onion, tomato slices) along with a “secret sauce” (spoiler alert: pickles). After the first bite, we were ready to tie on a bandana and air guitar to "Born in the USA".
Name: BLT Burger
Price: $13.95 (available through September only)
The 411: There’s something about “little” surprises we don’t really care for. The big, bombastic ones – we’re talking blindfolds, mega-yachts and lots and lots of champagne – well, those we don’t mind so much. So when we heard Chef Gary Baca of Joe's Stone Crab would be offering his twist on the classic BLT – a slab of crispy pork belly, baby! – we decided that little surprises can actually be good for the soul, er, stomach.
Name: The Triple
Price: $13 (includes seasoned curly fries)
The 411: Call her the burger whisperer. While she’s not literally talking to cows (although what she does when she’s alone in the kitchen is her business), Rockit’s Executive Chef Amanda Downing does know how to transform raw meat into comfort food rapture. Her latest offering, The Triple, ups the feast factor with a cheese trifecta (Swiss, Cheddar and Habanero Jack), Applewood smoked bacon and three giant Angus patties. Seriously, who doesn’t love more cowbell?