In honor of Burger Week, we reached out to a number of chefs, restaurateurs, food writers and friends of Eater to find out what burgers make them go ga-ga.
While he may focus on seafood and will lean toward Spanish-inspired cuisine at his forthcoming restaurant, Tavernita, Ryan Poli is a South Side-bred guy who loves his burgers. Today, Poli tells us about his decade-and-a-half love affair with a classic standby: Top Notch Beefburger.
There's a reason Top Notch has been my favorite burger for 15 years
and it can be summed up in two words; beef fat. The second you walk through the door of this Chicago South Side staple you are overwhelmed with an aroma unlike any other—a delicious twist on the smell of a fast-food fryer.
Your other senses are overwhelmed too: the sight of an old-school
diner, the sounds of the bustling cash register, the handshake of the friendly staff. But the taste is what sets Top Notch apart.
I'd been cheating on my childhood favorite with In-N-Out and other burgers, but one bite of the toasted, crispy bun, melty cheese and juicy patty set me straight. There's something refreshing about a place that hasn't tried to be trendy or cool. "Wagyu" and "Kobe" are foreign words. Here the deluxe half-pound cheese burger, grape soda (a.k.a. purple sugar water) and chocolate malt are the stars of the show.
As my dining partner and I licked the grease from out fingers we agreed on two things: ordering seconds and how lucky Chicago is to have this hidden culinary gem.
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