Wednesday is opening day for the first Chicago location of Wahlburgers, the restaurant from celebrity Mark Wahlberg and family. The chain is bringing its thick beef patties to River North inside a former Chili’s at 2 E. Ontario Street.
The River North opening had been delayed, originally planned for the end of 2018. Apparently, ventilation work needed to be redone to ensure the space was up to city code. The chain also held a groundbreaking for another Chicago-area location in March in suburban St. Charles, which is also where Donnie Wahlberg lives.
The chain, founded in 2011 in Massachusetts, has grown to 30 restaurants across North America. Executive chef Paul Wahlberg is in charge of menu development. The menu features 1⁄3 rd pound patties made of brisket, short rib, and ground chuck. The vegetarian option is the Impossible Burger. There’s a hot dog on the kid’s menu, but the only thing unique to the Chicago location appears to be the draft beers. Local breweries including Three Floyds, Goose Island, and Lagunitas have handles. There’s also wine, and spiked frappes.
Maybe it’s because of the A&E TV show, or Mark Wahlberg’s rapping career, but the chain has garnered a legion of fans. Block Club Chicago chronicled how one young fan met Donnie Wahlberg before the St. Charles groundbreaking. That kind of a fandom made Wahlburgers one of Chicago’s most anticipated restaurant openings of spring.
Regardless of the good vibrations that accolade may bring, Chicago’s a tough burger town full of glorious beef. Check out the menu below as Chicago eaters can visit Wahlburgers starting on Wednesday to see if this Massachusetts import can make it in the Windy City.
Wahlburgers, 2 E. Ontario Street, open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday.