May 6, 2012

Burger Bar Chicago

Location: 1578 N. Clybourn (North & Clybourn Red Line)
Cost: $20
Burger Bar on Urbanspoon

I thought long and hard about reviewing Chicago restaurants on this blog.  After all, most people I met during my short trip to DC had never made it out to the Windy City.  It's so unfortunate though, because Chicago is hands down one of the best cities in America.  I've had an amazing time going to med school here over the past four years, and I'm really sad to be leaving.

In the end, I decided to make Chicago the second city (get it?) of my blog.  Call it a sister city, if you will.  Why?  It was all about the food.  In my opinion, Chicago is the best food city in America, especially for young foodies on a budget.  You can get Michelin-class food for less than $30 per ridiculous is that?  I've had such a great time eating through Chicago that I feel compelled to share some of my favorites with everyone.  So without further ado...

Minutes after landing back in Chicago, still high from accomplishing my mission in DC two days early (or maybe it was the combination of high altitude and a gin & tonic at 10am on the flight over), I went searching for my celebratory welcome-back-to-Chicago meal.  Called up one of my good friends Yien, who was craving a burger at the time, and we headed out on the Red Line to Burger Bar.

First of all, Burger Bar is steps away from the North & Clybourn stop, which is a huge plus because I was sweating up a storm despite wearing shorts and flip flops.  Secondly, I love that they advertise their craft beers just as much as their burgers.  Because after suffering through the interminable drivel of early-twentysomethings on the El ride over, I was definitely in the mood for a drink.  I know what you're thinking.  Two separate drinking sessions before noon?  But I promise I'm not an alcoholic.

We took a seat outside to take advantage of the great weather.  I took a picture (and sat) facing this way because the other side points into a parking lot and a dumpster...

Gotta love their daily drink specials!  The flavor du jour?  $3 cans.  The True Blonde Ale was the perfect cure for a hot day, and a mighty tasty way to wash down the burger that was about to come my way.  If draught is your treat, you'll be glad (not happy, just glad) to know they have a respectable menu that rotates on a regular basis.  I'd say it looked like about 15 different beers on tap.  And I mustn't forget they've got quite a nice list of bottles as well - at least a good 30 of them available on any given day.

The menu boasts a number of "stackers" - burgers that have gourmet ingredients piled on top - that are real appetizing, but if you're of the OCD variety and gotta have your burger a certain way, they do have a create-your-own menu as well.  I was torn between the El Diabolo (wicked spicy) and the Belly Up...and as always, pork belly triumphed.  Sweet potato fries rounded out my enticingly large meal.

Wow.  My first bite was a symphony of juicy, melty, crunchy, and sweet...and I swear I'm not parroting back what I just heard on a Taco Bell commercial.  The burger was done just the way I like it (medium-rare), and the pork belly added an awesome layer of fat that tastes much better than it sounds.  Trust me, if you like pork belly, you'll love this burger.  The apple slaw added the perfect amount of freshness to what would otherwise have been a grease bomb, and the garlic aioli complemented all the flavors just right.  The bun?  It didn't get in the way, which is just about the best compliment I can give a burger bun.  And to finish, the sweet potato fries offered a light-tasting follow-up to the giant food-coma-inducing half-pound delight of a burger I just crammed down my esophagus.

Yien opted for the Elk Burger with andouille sausage, pepper-onion relish, smoked gouda, and chili aioli.  It was so good that I had to steal the thing from Yien before he could finish it all just so I could have a taste.  The burger had an incredible smoky-yet-succulent aura about it, and the chili aioli added just the right amount of kick to round out the meal.

For doing such a great job welcoming me back to the Second City, Burger Bar earns 4 Cherries.


  1. good times dude good times, gotta go try the diablo burger sometime