Quick. Name one thing Chicagoans love that may eventually kill us.
If you answered “steakhouses,” you are correct. If you answered “burgers,” you are also correct.
But we said screw it and ate 15 of ‘em anyway.
Herein: 15 Chicago Steakhouse Burgers, Devoured and Ranked, a list that proves — once and for all — that our job is a tough one, but damn it, someone’s gotta do it.
Prima facie, you might contest that a steakhouse seems like an odd place to order a burger. You go to a steakhouse for a steak, with burgers often seen as a toss-away menu item relegated for the kid’s menu.
But while good burgers abound in our fair city, the steakhouse burger belongs in a class all its own. From burgers with juicy mid-rare patties to thin crispy numbers worthy of all the trips back, here are the steakhouse burgers you want when, you know, you just need a burger.
15. The Wagyu Cheeseburger at Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse
MJ may have left Chicago, but at least we have his steakhouse to clog the Jumpman-sized hole he left in our hearts. Purists may balk at the idea of grinding fatty Wagyu into a lean beef patty, but it’s sufficiently juicy, and the aged cheddar is nice touch. Do note it’s only available at lunch. Pop in and show the tourists how a local posts up.
14. The Grille’s Signature Burger at Capital Grille
There are at least six hamburger options available for lunch at this Streeterville steakhouse. Yes, it’s a chain. No, that should not deter you. And yes, you should work through each one, starting with the Signature Burger, a ground sirloin heart-stopper topped with smoked bacon and sweet onions.
13. The Lil’ Brgs at STK Steakhouse
These petite Wagyu patties are served up on a soft sesame bun with a coat of a Thousand Island-esque dressing. Throw on some truffles and foie gras for good measure. And pro tip: they’re best paired with a glass of Prosecco. “Are you really advocating pairing burgers with sparkling wine?” you might ask. We sure are. Just go with it.
12. The Rural Burger at Rural Society
A tasty offering from the wood-fired steakhouse located in the lobby of the Loews Hotel, the Rural Burger stays true to Rural Society’s Argentine roots. The eight-ounce burger is slathered with salsa golf (Argentina’s answer to Thousand Island), topped with lettuce, tomato and grilled provoleta cheese and sandwiched between a sesame bun. It’s served with fries or hand-cut merken-spiced chips, and beware that the whole shebang is a secret, off-menu ordeal. Just tell your server InsideHook sent ya.
11. The Dry-Aged Prime Burger at Prime & Provisions
Prime & Provisions’ dry-age room makes the River North steakhouse reliable for its steaks, but also for its eight-ounce dry-aged chuck and brisket Prime Burger. Expect some proper char on this patty. Similar to its big cuts, the burger is fired up under a 1,100-degree broiler. Also expect sharp American cheese, housemade dijonnaise and the fixins, all in between a lightly toasted brioche bun. Will you add bacon and a farm egg? Of course you will.
10. Benny’s Burger at Benny’s Chophouse
Oh, Benny’s Burger, you delicious mess. All blue cheese burgers are good cheeseburgers in our book, and if you wanna holler at a classic, turn to Benny’s. Their signature prime beef burger is dressed with blue cheese, slabs of Nueske’s bacon and a blanket of port wine-caramelized onions.
9. The Downstairs Burger at Eight Bar and Patio
Simply known as the “Downstairs” at Maple & Ash, the space beneath the city’s most extravagant steakhouse has become Eight Bar and Patio, a casual affair where hungry Gold Coasters can grub on elevated bar bites. Maple & Ash’s burger remains intact: a thin, double-pattied cheeseburger covered with pickles, red onion and dijonnaise. It’s second on the menu to Chicago’s other favorite hand-held: the hot dog. Here it’s the Epic Dog, a bacon-wrapped Vienna Beef dog topped with caramelized onion, foie gras, black truffle and cognac-mustard sauce. Get both.
8. The Burger at Boeufhaus
Everyone’s favorite neighborhood chophouse has an off-menu burger that can only be described as “meaty heaven.” Beoufhaus’s casual neighborhood appeal begets its burger: a simple sesame-crusted potato roll containing a seven-ounce patty served up with cheese, house pickles and crisp shaved lettuce cloaked in malt vinegar aioli.
7. The Fulton Burger at Swift & Sons
At this point Swift & Sons is known for many things: One of the city’s best-looking dining rooms. The best Beef Wellington ever. All that delicious Wagyu. But it’s also home to the thick, unfussy charms of the Fulton Burger, a chuck, brisket and short rib patty served with bacon, caramelized onion and a slather of dijonnaise. With its charred surface and just-crisp texture, the meat speaks for itself. The pickles on the side provide a palate cleanser, but we’d understand if you wouldn’t want to.
6. The 40-Day Dry-Aged Prime Steak Burger at David Burke’s Primehouse
When one of the city’s premiere steakhouses does a burger, you eat it. The Signature Burger, an ultra-thick but also ultra-juicy 40-day dry-aged beef patty, is topped with sauteed garlic spinach, onion and black pepper aioli, a beautiful assemblage of consumption.
Photo: Bavette's Bar & Boeuf
5. The Slagel Farm Griddled Burger at Bavette’s Bar & Boeuf
Anyone familiar with the gospel of Brendan Sodikoff is aware that the man knows how to make a griddled burger. You’ve been to the Chevals Au and Small. But have you had the burger at Bavette’s? It’s a six-ounce thing of beauty that cannot and should not be ordered without thick-cut bacon and an egg.
4. The Chicago Cut Prime Burger at Chicago Cut
Chicago Cut will always be one of the Loop’s favorite power dining lunch spots, and more times than not, the suits and ties are ordering cheeseburgers. And how could you not? Dry-aged beef done right. They’re perfect in basically every way: all the ounces, glossy bun, cheese dripping down the sides. Do we think the Chicago Cut Prime Burger is the way to go? We certainly do.
3. The Black Truffle Burger at RPM Steak
There’s a primal wonder to RPM Steak’s Black Truffle Burger. Don’t let its simplicity fool you. This is a ridiculous burger that tastes as indulgent as it sounds. It has a greasy brioche bun, bloody-rare grass-feed beef patty, truffle aioli, red onion jam and a puck of foie gras butter. Beefy balanced with sweet. Best part: it's actually served on a silver platter.
2. The Sandwich King at Gibson’s Steakhouse
We admit: it’s a bit unfair we chose to sample this Gibson’s Sandwich King, which won the People’s Choice Award at the 2013 Chicago Gourmet Hamburger Hop. But we're glad we did, and you’ll be glad you did, too. It’s a careful burger. The kind of burger that — thanks to the crispy cherry peppers that reminded us of fried giardineira — knows the room. Add spicy mayo and jalapeño havarti and you’ve got a number that wins every single time.
1. The Double Cheeseburger at Community Tavern
The first time we tasted the Community Tavern burger, we knew we had our winner. That didn’t stop us from trekking back to Portage Park to taste it again. And again. And again. This is the steakhouse burger standard-bearer. The sweet spot. Everything you will ever want in a griddled patty. An unsung hero in an otherwise tragic world of overdressed hamburgers. Like all “best burgers,” it’s simple and old-fashioned: a two-patty job with one-year cheddar and deeply caramelized onion on an eggy brioche bun.