We have a list of Chicago’s Best Burgers, which we promise we’re updating. But in the meantime, here is a list of the best new burgers that have arrived on the scene in the past year. From smash patties to a jerk cheeseburger to more smash patties, we’ve put our 10 new favorites on this guide. So, prepare to clear your calendar - you have some burger eating to do.
En Passant in Logan Square manages to make an incredible burger using only three ingredients: beef, rose marie sauce, and balsamic onions. The patties are juicy, the sauce and onions create a perfect combination of tangy and sweet, and the brioche bun holds up to everything without disintegrating. Plus, we really like En Passant’s small and dimly lit space and vintage chandeliers and candles that make us feel like we’re on a date with our burger. Which is fine by us.
After closing during the pandemic, Ludlow, one of our favorite bars and patios in Logan Square, pivoted to pizza for carryout. But now that Chicago is back open, their menu has changed, featuring (this won’t be a surprise since they’re on this guide ) a fantastic smashburger. The patties are reminiscent of what you’ll find at The Region, meaning super flattened with lacy, caramelized edges. The burger is dressed simply - just horseradish sauce, pickles, and American cheese - and served on a sweet, squishy-but--dense-enough bun. Another nice thing about this burger is that it (plus fries) is $8, and exactly what we want to be eating when we’re hanging out on their backyard patio.
The burger at Leavitt Tavern is delicious - the crispy patties are juicy, come with a healthy amount of tangy sauce and onions, and are served on a seared sesame bun that has an abundant amount of seeds. But part of our love of this smashburger is because of its secret-feeling location. No, not because you need to DM someone to get a secret code, or go on a geocaching scavenger hunt to find it. This quiet Bucktown bar and inn (they have three rooms) is on a side street with no foot or street traffic, and they just started serving food this year. Plus, this place also has a huge patio with two sections - one that’s tented and heated, and one that’s on the grass and feels like hanging out in the park.
We’re not going to recommend a fancy $24 steakhouse burger lightly. That f*cker needs to be really, really good. And the new wagyu smashburger from RPM Steak is. It’s also only available on Tuesdays and Wednesdays - so don’t get it confused with the dry-aged burger that’s on the regular menu. This is the one you want. It comes with a toasted bun, two patties that have a great sear, and an incredible yuzu aioli that has just enough acid to cut through the rich meat. We suggest walking in after work and eating at the bar.
The smashburger at Three House, an all-day restaurant in West Town, is exactly the kind of burger we want when we’re hungover. Two juicy patties topped with the perfect amount of shredded cheddar, caramelized onions, and garlic aioli on a fluffy sesame bun. It’s rich and delicious without being overwhelming - so on second thought, it’s just the kind of burger we want to eat, period.
This is a spot in Logan Square from the team behind Little Bad Wolf in Andersonville. We’re big fans of the burger at that place, so we were looking forward to checking out Gretel. And it turns out the burger here might be even better, mainly because it comes on a squishy everything bun. And that bun is a perfect delivery system for the two juicy patties, slices of white and yellow American cheese, bacon, garlic aioli, and pickles.
Phlavz Bar & Grille
At first glance, the burger at Phlavz in University Village is a pretty straightforward burger - two nicely charred patties, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onion. And we’d be delighted with the burger if it stopped there, but it’s the addition of a jerk mayo that makes this burger so damn good. It adds a level of smoke and heat that complements the charred meat perfectly.
When Pilsen Yards first opened in January, they served mainly tacos and Mexican small plates. But they recently added a great smashburger to their slowly expanding menu. The burger is delicious and sloppy, generously topped with caramelized onion, lots of gooey cheese, pickles, and a spicy mayo they call “mami sauce.” And as juicy as this burger is, the bun manages to hold up to everything without falling apart. This burger - plus some margaritas on their patio - is exactly how we want to spend our summer.
After being closed for three months, this fried chicken spot just reopened in a new space in Lincoln Park. And while Cluck It still has great fried chicken, now they also have a burger on their menu which is also really, really good. It’s juicy without being greasy, the brioche bun is perfectly toasted, and their “cowtch” sauce is a wonderfully tangy dijonaise. We also got a side of cheesy sports pepper waffle fries to go with it, and you should too.
Our experience with burgers at BBQ spots tends to be the same: a thick patty smothered in BBQ sauce, topped with fried onions and/or pepper jack cheese. That’s perfectly fine, but we’re happy that the burger at Offset, a brand new BBQ restaurant in Logan Square, doesn’t fall into this category. Their burger has a small layer of BBQ sauce between the two patties, lending it just enough of sweet, smoky flavor to enhance (rather than overwhelm) the meat. The addition of caramelized onions and peppers adds another layer of flavor, and the pickles cut through the richness. It also includes two slices of cheddar and 1000 Island dressing, which, quite frankly, we had forgotten how much we love.