clock menu more-arrow no yes
A double cheeseburger.
The smashed Double Fatso with cheese from Fatso’s Last Stand is droolworthy.
Fatso’s Last Stand

Chicago’s Essential Burgers

Devour giant or smashed patties dressed with quality toppings

View as Map
The smashed Double Fatso with cheese from Fatso’s Last Stand is droolworthy.
| Fatso’s Last Stand

What makes a burger special? Whether it's a longtime favorite or a buzzy newcomer, an essential burger has a lasting effect on eaters, other restaurants, and the scope of the Chicago food scene at large. From giant patties to smashed delights, local restaurants are crafting exciting and unique versions that use fresh beef, premium ingredients, and more. The latest additions to the list include Big Kids pop-up Shiddy Bar & Burgs, vegan oasis Can’t Believe It’s Not Meat, and West Town’s all-day eatery, Three House.

As of August 20, the city has mandated that everyone wear facial coverings while indoors. For updated information on coronavirus cases, please visit the city of Chicago’s COVID-19 dashboard. Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

Read More
Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Paradise Pup

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

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

2. Community Tavern

Copy Link
4038 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60641
(773) 283-6080
Visit Website

Portage Park and Northwest Side residents adore this neighborhood spot 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. Carryout orders can be placed here.

3. Illinois Bar & Grill

Copy Link
4135 W 47th St
Chicago, IL 60632
(773) 847-2525

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

4. Big Kids

Copy Link
2545 N Kedzie Blvd
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 687-8385
Visit Website

The finest pleasures in life are often only available during certain times and that’s the case with the “Shiddy Burg.” Big Kids, the nostalgia-driven sandwich shop by chefs Ryan Pfeiffer and Mason Hereford, transforms into a burger pop-up on Mondays and after 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Eaters will find an unfussy-yet-glorious smash burger consisting of a thin patty with super-crisp edges, American cheese, shredded lettuce, and secret sauce. Vegans can get theirs with plant-based Beyond Beef instead. Place online orders here.

5. Nicky’s the Real Mccoy

Copy Link
5801 S Kedzie Ave, Chicago
IL, 60629
(773) 436-6458
Visit Website

Birthplace of the “Big Baby,” Nicky's is the best place to try this Chicago original. The order of the ingredients is the distinguishing characteristic of the burger. 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.

6. Redhot Ranch

Copy Link
2449 W Armitage Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 772-6020
Visit Website

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.

7. Fatso's Last Stand

Copy Link
2258 W Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 245-3287
Visit Website

Fatso’s satisfies greasy cravings with juicy char-grilled and smash burgers. Try the “Super Ooey Gooey” for a tip-top bite — two smashed patties are stuffed with Merkts cheddar, bacon, and giardiniera and dressed with Fatso’s sauce, tomatoes, lettuce, and onions. There’s a second location in Lincoln Park. Order online here.

A double cheeseburger.
Fatso’s goes all out on its “Ooey Gooey” burgers.
Fatso’s Last Stand [Official Photo]

8. The StopAlong

Copy Link
1812 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 394-4694
Visit Website

The StopAlong is a family-friendly pizzeria with thin-crust pies dedicated to the nostalgia of the ‘80s and ‘90s. While the pizzas are tasty, hiding in plain site 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 the classic caramelized onion, pickles, lettuce, and tomatoes. Let the kids argue about the pizza toppings while the parents can tune out the noise and bite into the burger. Order carryout here.

9. The Leavitt Street Inn & Tavern

Copy Link
2345 N Leavitt St
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 661-9639
Visit Website

Tucked away on a Bucktown side street, this neighborhood bar and inn made its debut in 2020 after years of planning. The food menu is short but sweet, boasting an impeccable one-third-pound smash burger. The crispy double Angus patties are sandwiched between a sesame seed bun and topped with American cheese, caramelized onions, pickles, and tangy house sauce.

10. Edzo's Burger Shop

Copy Link
1571 Sherman Ave, Evanston
IL, 60201
(847) 864-3396
Visit Website

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 is known for. A second outpost is located in Urbanspace food hall. Online ordering is available here.

11. The Region

Copy Link
2057 W Roscoe St
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 857-2874
Visit Website

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.

12. Top-Notch Beefburgers

Copy Link
2116 W 95th St, Chicago
IL, 60643
(773) 445-7218

A timeless 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.

13. Little Bad Wolf

Copy Link
1541 W Bryn Mawr Ave
Chicago, IL 60660
(773) 942-6399
Visit Website

Burgers, beer, and whiskeys are the focus at Andersonville gem Little Bad Wolf. Fans of big burgers are in luck. 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.

The Wolf Burger with a basket of fries.
The Wolf Burger will satisfy even the biggest appetites.
Little Bad Wolf [Official Photo]

14. Mott Street

Copy Link
1401 N Ashland Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 687-9977
Visit Website

Edward Kim’s Asian fusion restaurant is home to an amazing burger. Available until 7 p.m. 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 riff that packs an umami punch. The burger is so popular it spawned its own spin-off — Mini Mott with locations in Logan Square and Time Out Market in Fulton Market. Online orders can be placed here.

15. Three House

Copy Link
1450 W Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60642
(312) 465-2636
Visit Website

It’s all about quality at this new all-day restaurant in West Town. Chef Tyler Nickson uses ground chuck and brisket from Slagel Family Farm to create the beefy patties, which get smooshed onto the griddle. The juicy meat is served on a fluffy sesame seed bun alongside Hook’s aged cheddar, caramelized onions, and garlic-onion aioli. Diners can also add bacon to it. The burger is offered during lunch and dinner and online ordering is available here.

16. The Loyalist

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

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 gets taken to the next level with pickled and charred onions, American cheese, pickles, and onion-infused mayo. Online ordering is available here.

17. Maillard Tavern

Copy Link
494 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 766-2727
Visit Website

Named after the process that gives browned food its distinctive flavor, 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. Order online here.

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

18. Au Cheval

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

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 here, just griddled four-ounce patties, American cheese, Dijonnaise, and pickles. Thick-cut bacon — an extra add-on — lifts the burger to even greater heights.

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

19. Can't Believe It's Not Meat

Copy Link
1368 E 53rd St
Chicago, IL 60615
(773) 675-8208
Visit Website

As meat alternatives are becoming more popular and prevalent, an increasing number of plant-based restaurants have also started 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 regular or vegan cheese on a sesame seed bun. Online ordering is available here. Two additional Can’t Believe It’s Not Meat outposts are located in Gold Coast and Orland Park.

20. Schoop's Hamburgers

Copy Link
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 smash burger long before places like Shake Shack and Culver’s 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 melted cheese.

A basket of burger and fries alongside a soft drink.
Schoop’s Hamburgers is a big hit in the Hoosier State.
Schoop’s Hamburgers [Official Photo]

Loading comments...

1. Paradise Pup

1724 S River Rd, Des Plaines, IL 60018

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

1724 S River Rd
Des Plaines, IL 60018

2. Community Tavern

4038 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60641

Portage Park and Northwest Side residents adore this neighborhood spot 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. Carryout orders can be placed here.

4038 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60641

3. 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 huge offerings are a contender for the biggest mouthful. The patties weigh in at a hefty 13 ounces and the popular bacon burger adds four slices of thick-cut pork. Diners who manage to finish it all in one sitting deserve a pat on the back and possibly some antacids.

4135 W 47th St
Chicago, IL 60632

4. Big Kids

2545 N Kedzie Blvd, Chicago, IL 60647

The finest pleasures in life are often only available during certain times and that’s the case with the “Shiddy Burg.” Big Kids, the nostalgia-driven sandwich shop by chefs Ryan Pfeiffer and Mason Hereford, transforms into a burger pop-up on Mondays and after 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Eaters will find an unfussy-yet-glorious smash burger consisting of a thin patty with super-crisp edges, American cheese, shredded lettuce, and secret sauce. Vegans can get theirs with plant-based Beyond Beef instead. Place online orders here.

2545 N Kedzie Blvd
Chicago, IL 60647

5. 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 original. The order of the ingredients is the distinguishing characteristic of the burger. 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.

5801 S Kedzie Ave, Chicago
IL, 60629

6. Redhot Ranch

2449 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

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.

2449 W Armitage Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

7. Fatso's Last Stand

2258 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622
A double cheeseburger.
Fatso’s goes all out on its “Ooey Gooey” burgers.
Fatso’s Last Stand [Official Photo]

Fatso’s satisfies greasy cravings with juicy char-grilled and smash burgers. Try the “Super Ooey Gooey” for a tip-top bite — two smashed patties are stuffed with Merkts cheddar, bacon, and giardiniera and dressed with Fatso’s sauce, tomatoes, lettuce, and onions. There’s a second location in Lincoln Park. Order online here.

2258 W Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60622

8. The StopAlong

1812 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

The StopAlong is a family-friendly pizzeria with thin-crust pies dedicated to the nostalgia of the ‘80s and ‘90s. While the pizzas are tasty, hiding in plain site 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 the classic caramelized onion, pickles, lettuce, and tomatoes. Let the kids argue about the pizza toppings while the parents can tune out the noise and bite into the burger. Order carryout here.

1812 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

9. The Leavitt Street Inn & Tavern

2345 N Leavitt St, Chicago, IL 60647

Tucked away on a Bucktown side street, this neighborhood bar and inn made its debut in 2020 after years of planning. The food menu is short but sweet, boasting an impeccable one-third-pound smash burger. The crispy double Angus patties are sandwiched between a sesame seed bun and topped with American cheese, caramelized onions, pickles, and tangy house sauce.

2345 N Leavitt St
Chicago, IL 60647

10. 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 is known for. A second outpost is located in Urbanspace food hall. Online ordering is available here.

1571 Sherman Ave, Evanston
IL, 60201

11. The Region

2057 W Roscoe St, Chicago, IL 60618

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.

2057 W Roscoe St
Chicago, IL 60618

12. Top-Notch Beefburgers

2116 W 95th St, Chicago, IL, 60643

A timeless 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.

2116 W 95th St, Chicago
IL, 60643

13. Little Bad Wolf

1541 W Bryn Mawr Ave, Chicago, IL 60660
The Wolf Burger with a basket of fries.
The Wolf Burger will satisfy even the biggest appetites.
Little Bad Wolf [Official Photo]

Burgers, beer, and whiskeys are the focus at Andersonville gem Little Bad Wolf. Fans of big burgers are in luck. 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.

1541 W Bryn Mawr Ave
Chicago, IL 60660

14. Mott Street

1401 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

Edward Kim’s Asian fusion restaurant is home to an amazing burger. Available until 7 p.m. 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 riff that packs an umami punch. The burger is so popular it spawned its own spin-off — Mini Mott with locations in Logan Square and Time Out Market in Fulton Market. Online orders can be placed here.

1401 N Ashland Ave
Chicago, IL 60622

15. Three House

1450 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60642

It’s all about quality at this new all-day restaurant in West Town. Chef Tyler Nickson uses ground chuck and brisket from Slagel Family Farm to create the beefy patties, which get smooshed onto the griddle. The juicy meat is served on a fluffy sesame seed bun alongside Hook’s aged cheddar, caramelized onions, and garlic-onion aioli. Diners can also add bacon to it. The burger is offered during lunch and dinner and online ordering is available here.

1450 W Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60642

Related Maps

16. The Loyalist

175 N Ada St, Chicago, IL 60607

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 gets taken to the next level with pickled and charred onions, American cheese, pickles, and onion-infused mayo. Online ordering is available here.

175 N Ada St
Chicago, IL 60607

17. Maillard Tavern

494 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60654
A double patty burger on a plate alongside pickle slices.
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 flavor, 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. Order online here.

494 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60654

18. 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 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 here, just griddled four-ounce patties, American cheese, Dijonnaise, and pickles. Thick-cut bacon — an extra add-on — lifts the burger to even greater heights.

800 W Randolph St, Chicago
IL, 60607

19. Can't Believe It's Not Meat

1368 E 53rd St, Chicago, IL 60615

As meat alternatives are becoming more popular and prevalent, an increasing number of plant-based restaurants have also started 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 regular or vegan cheese on a sesame seed bun. Online ordering is available here. Two additional Can’t Believe It’s Not Meat outposts are located in Gold Coast and Orland Park.

1368 E 53rd St
Chicago, IL 60615

20. Schoop's Hamburgers

695 Torrence Ave, Calumet City, IL 60409
A basket of burger and fries alongside a soft drink.
Schoop’s Hamburgers is a big hit in the Hoosier State.
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 smash burger long before places like Shake Shack and Culver’s 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 melted cheese.

695 Torrence Ave
Calumet City, IL 60409

Related Maps