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A person holding a plate with a burger on it.
Maillard Tavern’s finely crafted burgers are among Chicago’s best.
Galdones Photography/Maillard Tavern

The 20 Most Essential Burgers in Chicagoland

From giant beef patties to smashed, griddled delights

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Maillard Tavern’s finely crafted burgers are among Chicago’s best.
| Galdones Photography/Maillard Tavern

What makes a burger special? Whether it's a longtime favorite or a newcomer, an essential burger has lasting effects on eaters, other restaurants, and the scope of the Chicago food scene at large. From giant beef patties to smashed, griddled delights, Chicago restaurants are taking a classic dish and freshening things up. The latest additions to the list include Northwest Indiana-style specialist the Region, the veggie-based burger at Bad Hunter, and River West standout Maillard Tavern.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Edzo's Burger Shop

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1571 Sherman Ave, Evanston
IL, 60201
(847) 864-3396
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Edzo's makes arguably the best fast-casual burger around. The smashed, griddled patties are highly addictive, highlighting the quality and care that owner Eddie Lakin exhibits.

2. Paradise Pup

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1724 S River Rd
Des Plaines, IL 60018
(847) 699-8590

Make a visit to this small roadside shack in Des Plaines for terrific burgers that rank among the suburb’s finest. Similar to any good cookout burger, the sizeable patty is packed with beefy flavor and smoky char from the grill. It’s served on a challah bun and folks can add gooey Merkts cheddar spread, an optional but highly recommended condiment.

3. Little Bad Wolf

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1541 W Bryn Mawr Ave
Chicago, IL 60660
(773) 942-6399
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This Andersonville gem was formerly a burger spot so it’s no surprise the kitchen knows how to assemble a great one. There are several variants: The “Bad Burger” is a double cheeseburger with pickles and mayo while the “Wolf Burger” is a behemoth that holds three patties, bacon, onion straws, and a fried egg.

The Wolf Burger with a basket of fries.
Little Bad Wolf specializes in burgers and beers.
Little Bad Wolf [Official Photo]

4. Community Tavern

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4038 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60641
(773) 283-6080
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Portage Park residents adore this neighborhood restaurant and the burger is a part of the reason why. It’s a diner-style double cheeseburger that doesn’t need much except for pickles, caramelized onions, and a special sauce. On Sundays, a rotating version is available at the bar for just $5.

5. The Region

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2057 W Roscoe St
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 857-2874
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Inspired by the smashed 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, wafer-like edges with maximum caramelization. Diners can have single, double, or triple patties and every burger includes cheese, relish, onions, and a mayo-based signature sauce.

6. Kuma's Corner

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2900 W Belmont Ave, Chicago
IL, 60618
(773) 604-8769
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The iconic metal-themed restaurant and bar mini-chain has put out a variety of creative, thick burgers for many years, including specials of the month and a commotion-causing "Ghost Burger" topped with a communion wafer. But it was the original “Famous Kuma” burger that started it all, featuring a fried egg before it became en vogue.

7. Owen & Engine

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2700 N Western Ave, Chicago
IL, 60647
(773) 235-2930
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Every reputable gastropub has a burger on its menu. While fish and chips are a fine choice at this British-inspired spot, the burger is not to be missed. Set on a housemade potato bun, the patty is a blend of Slagel Farm chuck, short rib, and brisket, and it’s topped with caramelized onions.

8. Hot Chocolate

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1747 N Damen Ave, Chicago
IL, 60647
(773) 489-1747
Visit Website

Mindy Segal’s award-winning desserts aren’t the only reason to stop into her restaurant. An outstanding burger has long been a staple on the menu, featuring a juicy and well-seasoned Slagel Farm beef patty topped with Carr Valley cheddar and pickles on a house-baked sesame bun. Nueske’s bacon and a sunny-side up egg are optional add-ons.

The burger, topped with bacon and an egg, served with chips, pickles, and slaw.
Hot Chocolate’s sweets and burger make it a Bucktown favorite.
Hot Chocolate [Official Photo]

9. Mott Street

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1401 N Ashland Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 687-9977
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Edward Kim’s Asian fusion restaurant is home to an amazing burger. Sit at the bar and devour some street fare but save room for the ballyhooed “Mott Burger.” This beefy sandwich has it all: Double chuck patties, miso butter, sweet potato shoe strings, pickled jalapenos, hoisin aioli, American cheese, and dill pickles. It’s an East-meets-West riff loaded with an umami punch. The burger is so popular it spawned its own spin-off spot — Mini Mott.

10. Forbidden Root

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1746 W Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(312) 929-2202
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There’s no such thing as a “Chicago-style” burger but if there ever is, it should definitely incorporate the city’s quintessential condiment — giardiniera. This West Town brewery pairs its botanic beers with a burger covered in aged cheddar, onions, bread and butter pickles, and mayo mixed with spicy pickled vegetables.

11. Fatso's Last Stand

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2258 W Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 245-3287
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Open until 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, Fatso’s is often where Chicagoans make their last stand. This West Town shack fuels nocturnal cravings with juicy char-grilled or smashed burgers. Try the “Super Ooey Gooey” for a tip-top end to the night — griddled patties stuffed with Merkts cheddar, bacon, and giardiniera and dressed with Fatso’s sauce, tomatoes, lettuce, and onions. Fatso’s also has a new location in Lincoln Park.

A double cheeseburger.
Fatso’s is one of Chicago’s best late-night spots.
Fatso’s Last Stand [Official Photo]

12. Maillard Tavern

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494 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 766-2727
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Named after the process that gives browned food its distinctive taste, this River West tavern from the duo behind Piccolo Sogno churns out exciting burgers topped with a host of ingredients. Each one features double four-ounce patties that are cooked on a gas griddle until they’re perfectly charred and caramelized. Get the “City Slicker” for an indulgent combination of beef, foie gras, Swiss cheese, black truffle pesto, caramelized onions, foie gras mayo, and prosciutto di Parma.

A double patty burger on a plate alongside pickles.
Maillard Tavern’s “City Slicker” burger was the winner of Chicago Gourmet’s Hamburger Hop in 2018.
Galdones Photography/Maillard Tavern

13. The Loyalist

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175 N Ada St
Chicago, IL 60607
(773) 913-3774
Visit Website

John and Karen Urie Shields arrived in the West Loop with a two-pronged opening in 2016. Although Smyth, the fine dining restaurant, gets most of the accolades, its subterranean tavern companion is an equally superb place to eat and drink. The burger patty, one of Bon Appetit’s three best in 2017, is a blend of short rib, chuck, and ground bacon that is further enhanced with American cheese, pickles, onions, and onion-infused mayo.

14. Bad Hunter

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802 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 265-1745
Visit Website

Many people believe that traditional veggie burgers pale in comparison to their meat counterparts but Bad Hunter’s house-made version bucks the trend. Two black bean patties are fused together by Hook’s cheddar and topped with sweet tomato jam, mustard aioli, and the standard fixings. It’s a satisfying burger that focuses on winning flavors instead of imitating meat.

15. Au Cheval

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800 W Randolph St, Chicago
IL, 60607
(312) 929-4580
Visit Website

The burger at Brendan Sodikoff's take on a diner has been exalted around the country, including being named best in the U.S. by Bon Appétit, and stands as perhaps the finest example of a restaurateur bringing the thin, griddled, American classics into a 21st century restaurant setting. There are no frills on the basic burger, just griddled four-ounce patties, American cheese, Dijonnaise, and pickles. Thick-cut bacon — an extra add-on — lifts the burger to another level.

Au Cheval’s single cheeseburger with bacon and egg.
The lines are usually long for Au Cheval’s hyped burger.
Kevin J. Miyazaki/Au Cheval

16. Acadia

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1639 S Wabash Ave, Chicago
IL, 60616
(312) 360-9500
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The vaunted creation at Acadia is what happens when the chef of a Michelin-starred restaurant, who offers elevated tasting menus in the dining room, puts his all into a burger that's only available at the bar. The restaurant's “Acadia Burger” (bacon onion jam, truffle mornay, gruyere) makes for an excellent casual dinner option.

The “Acadia Burger.”
Acadia’s bar offers an a la carte menu with a fantastic burger.
Jeffy Mai/Eater Chicago

17. Illinois Bar & Grill

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4135 W 47th St
Chicago, IL 60632
(773) 847-2525
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The self-proclaimed moniker of “best burger in the USA” is debatable, but there’s no doubt these beefy offerings are a contender for the biggest mouthful. The patties weigh in at a hefty 13 ounces and the popular bacon burger adds additional thick-cut strips of pork. Diners who finish it all in one sitting deserve a pat on the back and possibly some Tums.

18. Nicky’s the Real Mccoy

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5801 S Kedzie Ave, Chicago
IL, 60629
(773) 436-6458
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Birthplace of the “Big Baby,” Nicky's is the best place to try this Chicago-only burger. Two griddled patties are sandwiched around American cheese and placed over, rather than under, pickles, ketchup, and mustard.

19. Top-Notch Beefburgers

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2116 W 95th St, Chicago
IL, 60643
(773) 445-7218
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A timeless South Side establishment 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 cow leg meat and topped with griddled onion pieces, American cheese, and pickles on the side.

20. Schoop's Hamburgers

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695 Torrence Ave
Calumet City, IL 60409
(708) 891-4270
Visit Website

A local favorite in Northwest Indiana and the southern suburbs of Chicago, Schoop’s has been flipping burgers since 1948. The regional chain mastered the art of the smashed burger long before places like Shake Shack popularized the style. The technique is simple: Fresh beef is pressed on the griddle until it develops a nice sear and crispy edges. The finished patty protrudes past the bun and is best enjoyed with bacon and slices of melted cheese.

A basket of burger and fries alongside a soft drink.
Schoop’s smashed burgers are popular in Indiana and the southern Chicago suburbs.
Schoop’s Hamburgers [Official Photo]

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1. Edzo's Burger Shop

1571 Sherman Ave, Evanston, IL, 60201

Edzo's makes arguably the best fast-casual burger around. The smashed, griddled patties are highly addictive, highlighting the quality and care that owner Eddie Lakin exhibits.

1571 Sherman Ave, Evanston
IL, 60201

2. Paradise Pup

1724 S River Rd, Des Plaines, IL 60018

Make a visit to this small roadside shack in Des Plaines for terrific burgers that rank among the suburb’s finest. Similar to any good cookout burger, the sizeable patty is packed with beefy flavor and smoky char from the grill. It’s served on a challah bun and folks can add gooey Merkts cheddar spread, an optional but highly recommended condiment.

1724 S River Rd
Des Plaines, IL 60018

3. Little Bad Wolf

1541 W Bryn Mawr Ave, Chicago, IL 60660
The Wolf Burger with a basket of fries.
Little Bad Wolf specializes in burgers and beers.
Little Bad Wolf [Official Photo]

This Andersonville gem was formerly a burger spot so it’s no surprise the kitchen knows how to assemble a great one. There are several variants: The “Bad Burger” is a double cheeseburger with pickles and mayo while the “Wolf Burger” is a behemoth that holds three patties, bacon, onion straws, and a fried egg.

1541 W Bryn Mawr Ave
Chicago, IL 60660

4. Community Tavern

4038 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60641

Portage Park residents adore this neighborhood restaurant and the burger is a part of the reason why. It’s a diner-style double cheeseburger that doesn’t need much except for pickles, caramelized onions, and a special sauce. On Sundays, a rotating version is available at the bar for just $5.

4038 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60641

5. The Region

2057 W Roscoe St, Chicago, IL 60618

Inspired by the smashed 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, wafer-like edges with maximum caramelization. Diners can have single, double, or triple patties and every burger includes cheese, relish, onions, and a mayo-based signature sauce.

2057 W Roscoe St
Chicago, IL 60618

6. Kuma's Corner

2900 W Belmont Ave, Chicago, IL, 60618

The iconic metal-themed restaurant and bar mini-chain has put out a variety of creative, thick burgers for many years, including specials of the month and a commotion-causing "Ghost Burger" topped with a communion wafer. But it was the original “Famous Kuma” burger that started it all, featuring a fried egg before it became en vogue.

2900 W Belmont Ave, Chicago
IL, 60618

7. Owen & Engine

2700 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL, 60647

Every reputable gastropub has a burger on its menu. While fish and chips are a fine choice at this British-inspired spot, the burger is not to be missed. Set on a housemade potato bun, the patty is a blend of Slagel Farm chuck, short rib, and brisket, and it’s topped with caramelized onions.

2700 N Western Ave, Chicago
IL, 60647

8. Hot Chocolate

1747 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL, 60647
The burger, topped with bacon and an egg, served with chips, pickles, and slaw.
Hot Chocolate’s sweets and burger make it a Bucktown favorite.
Hot Chocolate [Official Photo]

Mindy Segal’s award-winning desserts aren’t the only reason to stop into her restaurant. An outstanding burger has long been a staple on the menu, featuring a juicy and well-seasoned Slagel Farm beef patty topped with Carr Valley cheddar and pickles on a house-baked sesame bun. Nueske’s bacon and a sunny-side up egg are optional add-ons.

1747 N Damen Ave, Chicago
IL, 60647

9. Mott Street

1401 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

Edward Kim’s Asian fusion restaurant is home to an amazing burger. Sit at the bar and devour some street fare but save room for the ballyhooed “Mott Burger.” This beefy sandwich has it all: Double chuck patties, miso butter, sweet potato shoe strings, pickled jalapenos, hoisin aioli, American cheese, and dill pickles. It’s an East-meets-West riff loaded with an umami punch. The burger is so popular it spawned its own spin-off spot — Mini Mott.

1401 N Ashland Ave
Chicago, IL 60622

10. Forbidden Root

1746 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

There’s no such thing as a “Chicago-style” burger but if there ever is, it should definitely incorporate the city’s quintessential condiment — giardiniera. This West Town brewery pairs its botanic beers with a burger covered in aged cheddar, onions, bread and butter pickles, and mayo mixed with spicy pickled vegetables.

1746 W Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60622

11. Fatso's Last Stand

2258 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622
A double cheeseburger.
Fatso’s is one of Chicago’s best late-night spots.
Fatso’s Last Stand [Official Photo]

Open until 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, Fatso’s is often where Chicagoans make their last stand. This West Town shack fuels nocturnal cravings with juicy char-grilled or smashed burgers. Try the “Super Ooey Gooey” for a tip-top end to the night — griddled patties stuffed with Merkts cheddar, bacon, and giardiniera and dressed with Fatso’s sauce, tomatoes, lettuce, and onions. Fatso’s also has a new location in Lincoln Park.

2258 W Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60622

12. Maillard Tavern

494 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60654
A double patty burger on a plate alongside pickles.
Maillard Tavern’s “City Slicker” burger was the winner of Chicago Gourmet’s Hamburger Hop in 2018.
Galdones Photography/Maillard Tavern

Named after the process that gives browned food its distinctive taste, this River West tavern from the duo behind Piccolo Sogno churns out exciting burgers topped with a host of ingredients. Each one features double four-ounce patties that are cooked on a gas griddle until they’re perfectly charred and caramelized. Get the “City Slicker” for an indulgent combination of beef, foie gras, Swiss cheese, black truffle pesto, caramelized onions, foie gras mayo, and prosciutto di Parma.

494 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60654

13. The Loyalist

175 N Ada St, Chicago, IL 60607

John and Karen Urie Shields arrived in the West Loop with a two-pronged opening in 2016. Although Smyth, the fine dining restaurant, gets most of the accolades, its subterranean tavern companion is an equally superb place to eat and drink. The burger patty, one of Bon Appetit’s three best in 2017, is a blend of short rib, chuck, and ground bacon that is further enhanced with American cheese, pickles, onions, and onion-infused mayo.

175 N Ada St
Chicago, IL 60607

14. Bad Hunter

802 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607

Many people believe that traditional veggie burgers pale in comparison to their meat counterparts but Bad Hunter’s house-made version bucks the trend. Two black bean patties are fused together by Hook’s cheddar and topped with sweet tomato jam, mustard aioli, and the standard fixings. It’s a satisfying burger that focuses on winning flavors instead of imitating meat.

802 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60607

15. Au Cheval

800 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL, 60607
Au Cheval’s single cheeseburger with bacon and egg.
The lines are usually long for Au Cheval’s hyped burger.
Kevin J. Miyazaki/Au Cheval

The burger at Brendan Sodikoff's take on a diner has been exalted around the country, including being named best in the U.S. by Bon Appétit, and stands as perhaps the finest example of a restaurateur bringing the thin, griddled, American classics into a 21st century restaurant setting. There are no frills on the basic burger, just griddled four-ounce patties, American cheese, Dijonnaise, and pickles. Thick-cut bacon — an extra add-on — lifts the burger to another level.

800 W Randolph St, Chicago
IL, 60607

Related Maps

16. Acadia

1639 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL, 60616
The “Acadia Burger.”
Acadia’s bar offers an a la carte menu with a fantastic burger.
Jeffy Mai/Eater Chicago

The vaunted creation at Acadia is what happens when the chef of a Michelin-starred restaurant, who offers elevated tasting menus in the dining room, puts his all into a burger that's only available at the bar. The restaurant's “Acadia Burger” (bacon onion jam, truffle mornay, gruyere) makes for an excellent casual dinner option.

1639 S Wabash Ave, Chicago
IL, 60616

17. Illinois Bar & Grill

4135 W 47th St, Chicago, IL 60632

The self-proclaimed moniker of “best burger in the USA” is debatable, but there’s no doubt these beefy offerings are a contender for the biggest mouthful. The patties weigh in at a hefty 13 ounces and the popular bacon burger adds additional thick-cut strips of pork. Diners who finish it all in one sitting deserve a pat on the back and possibly some Tums.

4135 W 47th St
Chicago, IL 60632

18. Nicky’s the Real Mccoy

5801 S Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL, 60629

Birthplace of the “Big Baby,” Nicky's is the best place to try this Chicago-only burger. Two griddled patties are sandwiched around American cheese and placed over, rather than under, pickles, ketchup, and mustard.

5801 S Kedzie Ave, Chicago
IL, 60629

19. Top-Notch Beefburgers

2116 W 95th St, Chicago, IL, 60643

A timeless South Side establishment 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 cow leg meat and topped with griddled onion pieces, American cheese, and pickles on the side.

2116 W 95th St, Chicago
IL, 60643

20. Schoop's Hamburgers

695 Torrence Ave, Calumet City, IL 60409
A basket of burger and fries alongside a soft drink.
Schoop’s smashed burgers are popular in Indiana and the southern Chicago suburbs.
Schoop’s Hamburgers [Official Photo]

A local favorite in Northwest Indiana and the southern suburbs of Chicago, Schoop’s has been flipping burgers since 1948. The regional chain mastered the art of the smashed burger long before places like Shake Shack popularized the style. The technique is simple: Fresh beef is pressed on the griddle until it develops a nice sear and crispy edges. The finished patty protrudes past the bun and is best enjoyed with bacon and slices of melted cheese.

695 Torrence Ave
Calumet City, IL 60409

Related Maps