clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
A zoom up of a burger.
Kindling’s burger is a great option.
Chris Peters/Eater Chicago

Chicago’s Essential Burgers

Devour giant or smashed patties dressed with quality toppings

View as Map
Kindling’s burger is a great option.
| Chris Peters/Eater Chicago

For such a storied reputation for meatpacking, Chicago isn’t known as a burger town. Sure, Ray Kroc opened the first McDonald’s franchise in the suburbs, but hot dogs and Italian beef outmuscle burgers in the city’s street food scene. That’s a shame because the city has plenty of options for beef — and even veggie. From double stacks of griddled patties to thick juicy cutlets, there’s something for everyone, and here are 20 of the best around Chicago.

Read More
Eater maps are curated by editors and aim to reflect a diversity of neighborhoods, cuisines, and prices. Learn more about our editorial process.

Community Tavern

Copy Link

Portage Park and Northwest Side locals adore this neighborhood spot and the burger is a major reason why. It’s a diner-style double cheeseburger that doesn’t need much except for pickles, caramelized onions, and a special sauce. Online orders can be placed here.

Warlord

Copy Link

Warlord is the Avondale sensation that debuted this year from a trio of veteran chefs who serve steaks, veggies, and seafood cooked over an open flame in the kitchen behind the main bar. The burger, made with beef dry-aged on site, may get lost among the other dishes which offer higher technical detail. But don’t sleep on it. The presentation may change depending on your visit, but a simple half-inch thick patty and charred onion is richly satisfying. 

BiXi Beer

Copy Link

Owen & Engine may have closed in 2023, but that doesn’t mean its burger has vanished. Chef and owner Bo Fowler has been offering her old restaurant’s burger at her newer restaurant, Bixi Beer, as a winter special. Fowler says that will end in March, but don’t be surprised if it sticks around for a spell. The secret is the short rib that’s ground into the patty. Fowler now uses the same mix in Bixi’s burger. The classic O&E burger is thick-cut with American cheese on a homemade bun.

Nicky’s the Real Mccoy

Copy Link

Birthplace of the “Big Baby,” Nicky's is the best place to try a lesser-known Chicago original. The order of the ingredients on this burger is its distinguishing characteristic. Two griddled patties sandwich a slice of American cheese and are placed over, rather than under, pickles, ketchup, and mustard. Grilled onions go on top of the beef and the whole thing is set on a sesame seed bun.

A burger topped with cooked onions on a white table.
The Big Baby is a hit among patrons of all ages.
Nicky’s the Real Mccoy

Redhot Ranch

Copy Link

Not only does beloved late-night haunt Redhot Ranch sling what many consider to be the most exceptional burgers in town, it also offers one of the biggest bargains. The beef gets smashed down onto the griddle to give it a good sear. Then, modeled after In-N-Out’s commitment to quality, the kitchen adds fresh lettuce, onions, tomato, cheese, and special sauce. A bag of fries is also included with every order. Best of all, a double cheeseburger is less than $7. A second location is in Lakeview, and ownership owns 35th Street Red Hots near Sox Park which has the same menu.

Boeufhaus

Copy Link

Chicago missed Boefhaus during the pandemic, as the intimate West Town steakhouse remained shuttered for an extended period. The energy has returned with a full armada of steak and seafood options. The delicious burger — a thick patty with onions; it will remind diners of French onion soup — is back and should be savored for dinner or lunch.

The StopAlong

Copy Link

The StopAlong is a family-friendly pizzeria dedicated to the nostalgia of the ‘80s and ‘90s. While the pies are tasty, hidden in plain sight is the best item on the menu — a simple double cheeseburger with American cheese and smashed patties. The special sauce has a little 1,000 Island-esque tang that meshes with caramelized onions, pickles, lettuce, and tomatoes. Order online here. Also, don’t miss the digital billboard, just south of the restaurant on Milwaukee that throws some shade on Small Cheval. A second location is open in Logan Square.

Edzo's Burger Shop

Copy Link

Edzo's makes arguably the best fast-casual burgers around. The smashed, griddled patties are highly addictive, highlighting the quality and care that owner Eddie Lakin is known for. Folks who prefer beefier offerings will appreciate that there are also eight-ounce char burgers. Online ordering is available here.

The Region

Copy Link

Inspired by the smash burgers found in Northwest Indiana, the Region is an exemplar of the style. The beef is pressed onto a hot grill until it’s extra thin and the sides are scraped down in order to produce crispy, lacey edges with maximum caramelization. Diners can order single, double, or triple patties; each includes cheese, relish, onions, and a mayo-based Region sauce. Online ordering is available here.

SALT burgers + fries

Copy Link

The owners of IDOF (I Dream of Falafel) transformed their Wicker Park location into Salt, a burger that will remind diners of a certain West Coast chain. The griddled patties are juicy with a good sear, and the fresh-cut fries and onion rings are ideal complements. The burger is also halal.

SALT Burger

Top-Notch Beefburgers

Copy Link

A longstanding South Side institution that’s been around since 1942, Top-Notch Beefburgers is one of the last of a dwindling breed of classic Chicago grease joints and perhaps the best. The burgers, which come in three sizes, are made exclusively of meat from the cow leg and accompanied by cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, mayo, and raw or grilled onions.

Little Bad Wolf

Copy Link

Burgers, beers, and whiskeys are the focus at Andersonville gem Little Bad Wolf. Fans of big burgers are guaranteed to be pleased. The “Bad Burger” is a double cheeseburger with pickles and mayo while the “Wolf Burger” is a behemoth that holds three patties, cheese, bacon, pickles, mayo, onion straws, and a fried egg. Order online here.

Mott Street

Copy Link

Edward Kim’s Asian fusion restaurant is home to a tremendous burger. Available until 7 p.m. in the dining room or all night at the bar, the beefy “Mott Burger” has it all: Double chuck patties, miso butter, sweet potato frizzles, pickled jalapenos, hoisin aioli, American cheese, sautéed onions, and dill pickles. It’s an East-meets-West mashup of flavors that packs an umami punch. The burger is also available in Logan Square at Second Generation.

La Mejikana

Copy Link

Taquitos, huaraches, and other south-of-the-border specialties dominate the menu at La Mejikana, but don’t overlook the impeccable hamburguesa. A half-pound chuck patty is covered with guacamole, an over-easy egg, grilled onions, Chihuahua cheese, chipotle mayo, and chorizo. It’s a delicious Mexican twist on a timeless classic.

Heffer BBQ at Whiner Beer Company

Copy Link

Some of Chicago’s best barbecue comes from a wandering pop-up that’s recently found a home at a South Side brewery. Heffer BBQ is a Texas-style operation and from that the husband-wife duo produce a smoked beef burger, something that Chicagoans don’t see a lot of. It’s a thick, juicy patty that soaks up plenty of sweet smoke. Oh, there’s also brisket avaialble as a topping. This isn’t a child’s Happy Meal. Go sit in the corner and let the adults feast. Heffer’s engagement at Whiner is only temporary, but check out its social media to keep track of their next pop-up.

The Loyalist

Copy Link

John and Karen Urie Shields opened a two-pronged project to much acclaim in 2016. Although Smyth, the fine dining component, gets most of the accolades, its subterranean sibling is an equally superb place to eat and drink. The burger patty, recognized as one of Bon Appetit’s three best in 2017, is a blend of short rib, chuck, and ground bacon. It’s taken to the next level with pickled and charred onions, American cheese, pickles, and onion-infused mayo. Online ordering is available here.

DMK Burger Bar

Copy Link

There’s a temptation to overlook DMK Burger Bar, which was founded in 2009 by David Morton and chef Michael Kornick. Certainly, there are places that are flashier with more hype, but even though DMK has expanded with locations in the suburbs, the original, a short jaunt from Wrigley Field, is still solid. There’s a large menu of grass-fed patties, but order the patty melt. You won’t regret it. The fries are also worth noting.

Au Cheval

Copy Link

The burger at Hogsalt Hospitality’s modern diner has been praised around the country, including being named best in the U.S. by Bon Appétit, and stands as perhaps the finest example of a restaurant bringing the thin, griddled, American classic into a 21st century setting. There are no frills, just griddled four-ounce patties, American cheese, Dijonnaise, and pickles. Thick-cut bacon is an extra add-on that lifts the burger to even greater heights. A similar but slightly smaller version is available at sibling restaurant Small Cheval. Online orders can be placed here.

Penelope’s Vegan Taqueria

Copy Link

Penelope’s, with locations in River West and Andersonville, specializes in vegan tacos, but the kitchen also serves a knock-out vegan burger that uses an Impossible patty. It’s dusted with spices and comes with a creamy non-dairy sauce. The skin-on fries are also amazing. This is one of the best-dressed vegan burgers in town.

A vegan burger Ashok Selvam/Eater Chicago

Bistro Monadnock

Copy Link

Burger alchemy is what’s going on in the kitchen of Bistro Monadnock, located in the shadow of the Harold Washington Library in the Loop. The juicy and thick petty gives off French onion soup vibes, and it’s the kind of burger you’ll want to order sliced up as an appetizer to ensure your whole table gets a taste. Or just be a glutton and order one for yourself. It comes on a brioche bun with red onion relish, Dijonaise, and gruyere.

Can't Believe It's Not Meat

Copy Link

As meat alternatives have become more popular and prevalent, an increasing number of plant-based restaurants are also starting to sprout. At this Hyde Park eatery, chef-owner Laricia Chandler whips up meatless versions of classic comfort foods. Choose between the quarter-pound “Who Betta” burger and the “Big Mik,” a riff on the Big Mac that comes with double patties, special sauce, pickles, lettuce, and either dairy or vegan cheese on a sesame seed bun. Two additional Can’t Believe It’s Not Meat outposts are located in Gold Coast and Orland Park.

Online ordering is available here.

Community Tavern

Portage Park and Northwest Side locals adore this neighborhood spot and the burger is a major reason why. It’s a diner-style double cheeseburger that doesn’t need much except for pickles, caramelized onions, and a special sauce. Online orders can be placed here.

Warlord

Warlord is the Avondale sensation that debuted this year from a trio of veteran chefs who serve steaks, veggies, and seafood cooked over an open flame in the kitchen behind the main bar. The burger, made with beef dry-aged on site, may get lost among the other dishes which offer higher technical detail. But don’t sleep on it. The presentation may change depending on your visit, but a simple half-inch thick patty and charred onion is richly satisfying. 

BiXi Beer

Owen & Engine may have closed in 2023, but that doesn’t mean its burger has vanished. Chef and owner Bo Fowler has been offering her old restaurant’s burger at her newer restaurant, Bixi Beer, as a winter special. Fowler says that will end in March, but don’t be surprised if it sticks around for a spell. The secret is the short rib that’s ground into the patty. Fowler now uses the same mix in Bixi’s burger. The classic O&E burger is thick-cut with American cheese on a homemade bun.

Nicky’s the Real Mccoy

Birthplace of the “Big Baby,” Nicky's is the best place to try a lesser-known Chicago original. The order of the ingredients on this burger is its distinguishing characteristic. Two griddled patties sandwich a slice of American cheese and are placed over, rather than under, pickles, ketchup, and mustard. Grilled onions go on top of the beef and the whole thing is set on a sesame seed bun.

A burger topped with cooked onions on a white table.
The Big Baby is a hit among patrons of all ages.
Nicky’s the Real Mccoy

Redhot Ranch

Not only does beloved late-night haunt Redhot Ranch sling what many consider to be the most exceptional burgers in town, it also offers one of the biggest bargains. The beef gets smashed down onto the griddle to give it a good sear. Then, modeled after In-N-Out’s commitment to quality, the kitchen adds fresh lettuce, onions, tomato, cheese, and special sauce. A bag of fries is also included with every order. Best of all, a double cheeseburger is less than $7. A second location is in Lakeview, and ownership owns 35th Street Red Hots near Sox Park which has the same menu.

Boeufhaus

Chicago missed Boefhaus during the pandemic, as the intimate West Town steakhouse remained shuttered for an extended period. The energy has returned with a full armada of steak and seafood options. The delicious burger — a thick patty with onions; it will remind diners of French onion soup — is back and should be savored for dinner or lunch.

The StopAlong

The StopAlong is a family-friendly pizzeria dedicated to the nostalgia of the ‘80s and ‘90s. While the pies are tasty, hidden in plain sight is the best item on the menu — a simple double cheeseburger with American cheese and smashed patties. The special sauce has a little 1,000 Island-esque tang that meshes with caramelized onions, pickles, lettuce, and tomatoes. Order online here. Also, don’t miss the digital billboard, just south of the restaurant on Milwaukee that throws some shade on Small Cheval. A second location is open in Logan Square.

Edzo's Burger Shop

Edzo's makes arguably the best fast-casual burgers around. The smashed, griddled patties are highly addictive, highlighting the quality and care that owner Eddie Lakin is known for. Folks who prefer beefier offerings will appreciate that there are also eight-ounce char burgers. Online ordering is available here.

The Region

Inspired by the smash burgers found in Northwest Indiana, the Region is an exemplar of the style. The beef is pressed onto a hot grill until it’s extra thin and the sides are scraped down in order to produce crispy, lacey edges with maximum caramelization. Diners can order single, double, or triple patties; each includes cheese, relish, onions, and a mayo-based Region sauce. Online ordering is available here.

SALT burgers + fries

The owners of IDOF (I Dream of Falafel) transformed their Wicker Park location into Salt, a burger that will remind diners of a certain West Coast chain. The griddled patties are juicy with a good sear, and the fresh-cut fries and onion rings are ideal complements. The burger is also halal.

SALT Burger

Top-Notch Beefburgers

A longstanding South Side institution that’s been around since 1942, Top-Notch Beefburgers is one of the last of a dwindling breed of classic Chicago grease joints and perhaps the best. The burgers, which come in three sizes, are made exclusively of meat from the cow leg and accompanied by cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, mayo, and raw or grilled onions.

Little Bad Wolf

Burgers, beers, and whiskeys are the focus at Andersonville gem Little Bad Wolf. Fans of big burgers are guaranteed to be pleased. The “Bad Burger” is a double cheeseburger with pickles and mayo while the “Wolf Burger” is a behemoth that holds three patties, cheese, bacon, pickles, mayo, onion straws, and a fried egg. Order online here.

Mott Street

Edward Kim’s Asian fusion restaurant is home to a tremendous burger. Available until 7 p.m. in the dining room or all night at the bar, the beefy “Mott Burger” has it all: Double chuck patties, miso butter, sweet potato frizzles, pickled jalapenos, hoisin aioli, American cheese, sautéed onions, and dill pickles. It’s an East-meets-West mashup of flavors that packs an umami punch. The burger is also available in Logan Square at Second Generation.

La Mejikana

Taquitos, huaraches, and other south-of-the-border specialties dominate the menu at La Mejikana, but don’t overlook the impeccable hamburguesa. A half-pound chuck patty is covered with guacamole, an over-easy egg, grilled onions, Chihuahua cheese, chipotle mayo, and chorizo. It’s a delicious Mexican twist on a timeless classic.

Heffer BBQ at Whiner Beer Company

Some of Chicago’s best barbecue comes from a wandering pop-up that’s recently found a home at a South Side brewery. Heffer BBQ is a Texas-style operation and from that the husband-wife duo produce a smoked beef burger, something that Chicagoans don’t see a lot of. It’s a thick, juicy patty that soaks up plenty of sweet smoke. Oh, there’s also brisket avaialble as a topping. This isn’t a child’s Happy Meal. Go sit in the corner and let the adults feast. Heffer’s engagement at Whiner is only temporary, but check out its social media to keep track of their next pop-up.

Related Maps

The Loyalist

John and Karen Urie Shields opened a two-pronged project to much acclaim in 2016. Although Smyth, the fine dining component, gets most of the accolades, its subterranean sibling is an equally superb place to eat and drink. The burger patty, recognized as one of Bon Appetit’s three best in 2017, is a blend of short rib, chuck, and ground bacon. It’s taken to the next level with pickled and charred onions, American cheese, pickles, and onion-infused mayo. Online ordering is available here.

DMK Burger Bar

There’s a temptation to overlook DMK Burger Bar, which was founded in 2009 by David Morton and chef Michael Kornick. Certainly, there are places that are flashier with more hype, but even though DMK has expanded with locations in the suburbs, the original, a short jaunt from Wrigley Field, is still solid. There’s a large menu of grass-fed patties, but order the patty melt. You won’t regret it. The fries are also worth noting.

Au Cheval

The burger at Hogsalt Hospitality’s modern diner has been praised around the country, including being named best in the U.S. by Bon Appétit, and stands as perhaps the finest example of a restaurant bringing the thin, griddled, American classic into a 21st century setting. There are no frills, just griddled four-ounce patties, American cheese, Dijonnaise, and pickles. Thick-cut bacon is an extra add-on that lifts the burger to even greater heights. A similar but slightly smaller version is available at sibling restaurant Small Cheval. Online orders can be placed here.

Penelope’s Vegan Taqueria

Penelope’s, with locations in River West and Andersonville, specializes in vegan tacos, but the kitchen also serves a knock-out vegan burger that uses an Impossible patty. It’s dusted with spices and comes with a creamy non-dairy sauce. The skin-on fries are also amazing. This is one of the best-dressed vegan burgers in town.

A vegan burger Ashok Selvam/Eater Chicago

Bistro Monadnock

Burger alchemy is what’s going on in the kitchen of Bistro Monadnock, located in the shadow of the Harold Washington Library in the Loop. The juicy and thick petty gives off French onion soup vibes, and it’s the kind of burger you’ll want to order sliced up as an appetizer to ensure your whole table gets a taste. Or just be a glutton and order one for yourself. It comes on a brioche bun with red onion relish, Dijonaise, and gruyere.

Can't Believe It's Not Meat

As meat alternatives have become more popular and prevalent, an increasing number of plant-based restaurants are also starting to sprout. At this Hyde Park eatery, chef-owner Laricia Chandler whips up meatless versions of classic comfort foods. Choose between the quarter-pound “Who Betta” burger and the “Big Mik,” a riff on the Big Mac that comes with double patties, special sauce, pickles, lettuce, and either dairy or vegan cheese on a sesame seed bun. Two additional Can’t Believe It’s Not Meat outposts are located in Gold Coast and Orland Park.

Online ordering is available here.

Related Maps