6 local burger chains that get it right
Local burger chains? McDonald's, of course, comes immediately to mind — it's Oak Brook-based, West Loop-bound and packs a whopper of a punch culturally, economically and gastronomically (here and around the world). But there are other homegrown burger joints out there.
Far, far smaller than McDonald's, Burger King or other big burger boys, these Chicago-area businesses strive to stand out by offering customers a lot of choices in burgers, toppings and extras. Many emphasize humanely raised meats and organic products. And a number blur the line between fast food and fast-casual with table service and real cutlery.
For this story, I visited and tried them all. Here are six to consider:
M Burger opened in 2010 in a space carved from the kitchen of Tru, one of Chicago's most prominent restaurants. It's relatively small, just an ordering counter and a few spots to dine. (Outdoor seating for 60 is available on the sidewalk along Huron Street when the weather's nice.)
"Fine dining was always the Holy Grail to me," says founder Tim Hockett, who partnered with Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises on M Burger and other restaurants. He wants to deliver a similarly great experience with burgers. The Old Fashioned Cheeseburger, available in single or double size, delivers just that. The burger comes with lettuce, pickle, onion, tomato and housemade sauce, a spicy take on Thousand Island dressing. It can wreak a little havoc on the soft bun (intentionally fast-food-style) but adds to the overall sensuousness of the burger.
M Burger now has six locations: four in Chicago and one each in Aurora and Skokie.
"We've tried to grow sensibly,'' Hockett says. "To me, it's important to keep the menu tight, keep flavors fresh." www.mburgerchicago.com