Where To Get A Burger And A Beer By Yourself10 places for when you're looking for a little solitude, a bartender who respects boundaries, and a very good burger.
Some things go so well together it’s like they were thrust into existence with the sole purpose of linking up: Scorsese and Dinero. Swift and Antonoff. Burgers and beer. And while streaming Taxi Driver or crying in the car while blasting All Too Well are both wonderful activities to do by yourself, so is spending some quality alone time with a burger and a beer at one of these spots.
And if you're just looking for an incredible burger, here's our list of the best burgers in Chicago.
This Logan Square restaurant has a large bar with plenty of room, and the softly lit wooden space creates a warm, welcoming feeling that, if this were in a rom-com, would restore anyone’s faith in humanity. And if the atmosphere isn’t convincing enough, their burger is. It comes with a thick brisket patty, topped with aged cheddar and crispy onion bits that are like elevated Funyuns—but it’s the beefy bone marrow aioli that takes this burger to the next level. It’s also what makes it extra rich, and worth pairing with one of the lighter beers from their 24 on tap (the kolsch from Illuminated Brew Works is great).
If you live in Chicago (and probably even if you don’t) you’ve heard of Au Cheval in the West Loop. And despite this popular spot being around for more than a decade, two things remain the same: They make a good f*cking burger, and there’s always a ridiculously long wait for a table. But if you show up alone, snagging a bar seat is the best way to avoid the two-hour purgatory in the front vestibule. And since most of everyone behind the bar is too busy to play 20 questions with you, you can eat and drink in peace.
Committing to a $285, 12-course tasting menu experience at the Smyth in the West Loop is, well, a commitment. So for a casual solo dinner that also involves one of the best burgers in Chicago, we opt for their basement restaurant, The Loyalist. There are two cheeseburgers to choose from—the classic with a tangy onion gastrique and special sauce, or the original with pickled and charred onions. Both are delicious, especially when paired with one of the local beers on tap, or their $7 beer and shot deal if it’s been a long week. The space is usually packed with tables full of groups and couples, but the first-come-first-served bar is the easiest way to get in without a reservation.
There’s plenty of room for groups at Little Bad Wolf in Andersonville, but this dark bar is also perfect when your socialization battery is at 4%. The drink menu is long, with plenty of beers in cans, bottles, and on tap. When it comes to burgers there are only two to choose from. The best is the Bad Burger with two juicy patties, American cheese, pickles, and a red onion mayo, but they also have a Wolf Burger with three patties, an egg, and bacon if you’ve cleared your schedule for the rest of the day.
Unlike darker places more suitable for brooding and ignoring people, Community Tavern’s cheerful, brightly lit space is perfect when you don’t mind the possibility of making friends over a beer. And though this Portage Park spot has a lot of great Asian-influenced dishes on its menu, their burger is actually one of the best things here. It’s not overly complicated—but the two thin patties always have a great char and are perfectly complemented with caramelized onions and spicy sauce packed with umami.
Being cold and alone is a common state of being in Chicago, and few things are warmer and more comforting than a burger at the bar at Owen Engine. On paper, the burger is very simple—just meat and onions. But it’s actually a 10oz behemoth. The thick patty is made with a juicy combination of short rib, brisket, and chuck that’s balanced with sweet caramelized onions, and a housemade potato bun. And since this is one of the richest burgers on this list, it definitely helps to cleanse your palate between bites with one of their European imports on draft. Plus, on Tuesdays they have a BBB special where you also get a beer and a shot of bourbon with your burger.
This Lincoln Square bar has more burgers than any other place on this guide, clocking in at 14. And like its space (which is decorated with horned skulls and dragon paintings that might remind you of Spencer Gifts) each burger has personality. Like the Elvis’ Last Stand, with peanut butter, bacon, and plantains. But even more impressive than their burger selection is the beer menu, with 25 on draft, plus 150 more in bottles or cans. The bartenders are friendly and knowledgeable so when you show up alone, you’ll have someone to chat with about hops—or at the very least, get some help picking a beer.
For being a gin-focused bar, Scofflaw in Logan Square is a damn good place to grab a burger and beer. And the chairs next to one of their two fireplaces are particularly useful for looking enigmatic and moody, and perfect for deterring anyone from interrupting your alone time. They have one burger on the menu (a double cheeseburger) which, as it happens, is delicious. The draft list only has eight beers (again, it’s a gin bar), but they’re usually all from great local breweries, or you can always get a classic blue ribbon prize winner for just $3. Plus, the burger is only $12, making this one of the most affordable burger-beer combos on the list.
Alulu’s bar is a great place to camp out solo, but on warmer days the patio or tables by their garage-style windows are great for recovering from Chicago’s collective vitamin D deficiency. This Pilsen spot has 21 house-brewed beers on tap, from light lagers to bitter 12% stouts that are tasty, but also cause furrowed brows. And their food menu is just as varied as their long draft list, with both bar classics and some Filipino-influenced dishes. The simple beef burger with cheese and tangy pickled onions is fantastic (can also even be upgraded with egg and pork belly), but equally delicious is their sweet and savory longanisa burger with shishito peppers.
Dining alone can mean you’re left with nothing but yourself, your burger, and existential thoughts like, “what if we’re all in a simulation?” But if you want a break from dystopian dread, the StopAlong’s fun retro space can keep you distracted. This spot is decorated with paintings of superheroes eating fast food, a full line-up of He-Man action figures, and even a couple of arcade games. But while the nostalgic atmosphere is fun, their Stop-In burger is the main draw. And if their well-seasoned, nicely charred patties topped with American cheese, tangy special sauce, and caramelized onions are actually part of a simulation—well, that’s totally fine.