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Friday, 24 October 2008

In search of the World's Greatest Cheeseburger, Chicagoland contenders

(World's? Big talk for someone whose sampling of foreign land burgers is limited to Canada and Wales., and likely to remain so....)
I don't recall even liking cheeseburgers, or hamburgers growing up, but that may because my Mother, oh, I'm ashamed to even admit this and have anyone know of what lineage I am, I feel as if I am betraying the guilty secret of one dear to me, but my Mother.... well, she likes meat medium-well-done.
I know.
Medium well done.
The mind boggles....
She's such a good woman, in other ways.
But having discovered the joys of medium-rare, I am always on the look-out for a good cheeseburger.
And sometimes, the search rewards me with a great one.
Chicagoland is a very fine place in which to carry this quest on. (Although I shall always miss Fatburgers from the west coast -- the idea that anyone subjects their tastebuds to the mediocrity that is In-n-Out, when the glorious Fatburgers is at hand is stunning to me...)
Billy Goat's is a joke, of course, and considering my line of work, it should be no surprise that I have never tried the burgers at Mortons, or Weber, or Rosebud, or Jury's or most of the well-reputed steakhouses.
And Milwaukee is a little too far away to consider on this list, but Kopps is really good (also great custard. GREAT custard.)
There's a brew pub on the main drag in Boulder Colorado whose cheeseburger was mighty fine, anorexically skinny battered fried onion rings were the excellent topping.
We've gotten lost a couple times trying to find Paradise Pup in Des Plaines when we were out that way on other business, so I can't comment on it, but some day, some day....
Himself has it in his mind to drive to, I kid you not, SPRINGFIELD, because CBS Sunday Morning did a piece on a roadside burger shack/general store there. (But he's a great history buff, so there are other attractions...)
Poag Mahone, Hamburger Mary's, Charlie Beinlich's and Patty's I've yet to try, but various people whose opinion I trust speak highly of each.
Stella's Diner, 3042 N Broadway St; Zig Zag Kitchen, 2436 N. Lincoln Ave; Medici on 57th,
1327 E. 57th St; Twisted Spoke; are all good and I would gladly entertain an inviation to any, though not necessarily deliberately seek them out.
Hackneys and Moody's IMO are overrated, but I've only eaten at each once, so I'm open to persuasion on the matter. Wildfires was good, but at that price point greatness is expected.
My order is medium rare with the emphasis on rare, American cheese, (I love cheddar, but melted slices of American is the right texture,) grilled onions and mayo on the side. Points off for "mayo" that's really salad dressing, (Miracle-Whippy, corn syrup laden stuff,) extra points for a great bun, something eggy, or that's grilled.
So, among those I've really enjoyed, (for what they are, a greasy spoon that is frankly and proudly a greasy spoon is fine by me....,) I present for your consideration, the following:
Top-Notch Burger on 95th, (either the one on the corner of Cicero or the one in Beverly,) is one of the greats. I would not change a thing.
One of the very best cheeseburgers in Chicagoland is in another state, but only about two miles from the city line, so I think Grillers in Hammond Indiana (1232 119th St,) deserving of inclusion on the list, it's in the running for the World's Greatest, (and the homemade potato chips and sweet potato french fries are somethin' to write home about.)
Blackies can be terrific, but it has to be the one at 755 S Clark St, no a "Boston" Blackie's.
Choppers, 1659 N Ashland Ave. Spectacular malts too, and decent battered fish, if we happen to be there on a Friday. I was deeply disappointed that I couldn't take my Mother when she visits, but all their seating is at very high counter height, and I figure anyone over 50 probably can only do take-out. Also, SUPER clean, (for a place that looks like a greasy spoon,) and super friendly service.
What's the Beef 1863 N Clybourn Ave , right across from Trader Joe's, oh gee, honey, we're almost out of flax seed meal, we need to run by Trader Joe's, oh, gee, we might as well stop.... Bring Wet Ones, this is the messiest burger you've ever experienced. Huge hand formed patties that have marvelous crunchy edges all over.
Goldy's, 1023 N Northwest Hwy Park Ridge. This makes everyone's list and more than deserves to.

Any suggestions? someplace to try?

Oh, and there was this place in a near-western suburb that looked like a German hunting lodge, enormous roaring fire in a gigantic fireplace, terrific burger that was a happy accident, but neither of us can recall the name or location of -- if this rings a bell with anyone in the Chicago area, I'd be grateful to learn the name. It was on some major east-west street, north side of the street, in a very well-kept but outdated looking neighborhood.


Dad29 said...

In Buffalo Grove, there's a Greek (!!!) restaurant on the main drag, which offers 1/2 pound burgers with chopped-olive and bleu-cheese topping.

You haven't LIVED until you've tried one of those.

Scelata said...

I'll give it a try -- there has to be SOME reason to visit Buffalo Grove.

Dad29 said...

I had to go there for work for a few months...

Granted, there's not much more reason to visit the town.

Sir Monocle said...

My favorite burger in the world is just a few blocks east of Top Notch on 95th. The place is called "Peetee's Bungalow". Their Peetee Burger has been my favorite for 30 years. Try a side of fried zucchini. Mmmmmmmmmm.

Scelata said...

Oh, I've passed the Bungalow many times, I think -- if it's the place of which I'm thinking, I've always admired their refusal to be a slave to architectural convention.
If they want to call a building with a mansard roof a bungalow, who's gonna stop'em?

(Save the Liturgy, Save the World)