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5 Hot Spots For Chicago Burgers

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The Windy City’s best known for banging out exceptional deep-dish pizza and hot dogs, but lately it’s been getting plenty of attention for its burger scene. That’s because there’s fierce competition between restaurants looking to drive in more customers by offering an item every diner should appreciate. But with so many burger joints in the city, they’re finding that they must set themselves apart by offering something unique, from house-made ingredients and buns to locally sourced meat.

Here are some of the very best burgers around town:

1. Au Cheval

Courtesy of Au Cheval
What makes Au Cheval’s burger a winner is it's sheer simplicity. It’s griddled, then a slice of American or Cheddar is added to the house-made buns. You can also add a fried egg or slice of foie gras to the mix, but it’s best to only add mustard or ketchup. Also note that a “single” burger comes with two slices of meat and a “double” burger arrives with three. Go figure. 800 W. Randolph St., 312-929-4580

2. DMK Burger Bar

Courtesy of DMK Burger Bar
This is what you call a chef-driven burger joint, as Michael Kornick (ada street, Fishbar, MK) is behind the offbeat menu. You'll find 14 burger offerings, but to be fair, only eight use grass-fed beef. (There are also bison, Portobello, lamb, salmon and turkey burgers on the menu.) The tastiest burgers are the most flavorful, with a hint of spice. The "#2," which is topped with chili-rubbed onion strings, Amish blue cheese and spicy chipotle ketchup, and The Big DMK (a triple decker with special sauce), are the stars of this show. 2954 N. Sheffield Ave., 773-360-8686

3. Epic Burger

Courtesy of Epic Burger
You can gauge the success of Epic Burger by its rapid expansion. It opened in 2008 in the South Loop, and by the end of 2012 the local chain boasted six additional locations. Everything is all natural, fresh or organic, and that’s a significant advantage over its competition. The best way to experience an Epic Burger is to top it with a cage-free, organic fried egg and nitrate-free bacon. It’s sinfully delicious and fresh, and you won’t need another meal for the rest of the day. 517 N. State St., 312-913-1373

4. Kuma’s Corner

Kuma-burger.jpg
Photo courtesy of Kuma's Corner
The Northwest Side spot boasts burgers piled high with toppings and named after popular heavy metal bands. Its eponymous signature burger (bacon, cheddar, fried egg) and Led Zeppelin (topped with pulled pork, bacon, cheddar, pickles) should be held personally responsible for the extended wait time it takes to get a table in the dive-like dining room. You'll also find Megadeth (chorizo, red potato hash, pico de gallo, cayenne avocado cream, tortilla strips) and Metallica (Buffalo sauce, bacon, bleu cheese dressing) on the menu. Kuma's is a no-frills type of place, yet it attracts the occasional celebrity such as Lady Gaga, who quietly enjoyed a burger and beer at the bar when she was in town for Lolloapalooza in 2010. Forget about even thinking about coming here on the weekends because those waits are sometimes up to two hours (a second location, Kuma's Too, opened in February 2013 at 666 W. Diversey Pkwy.). 2900 W. Belmont Ave., 773-604-8769

5. Three Aces

Courtesy of Three Aces
Regulars of the hard rock-themed restaurant were fans of its burger long before chef Matt Troost won the people’s choice award at Chicago Gourmet’s Hamburger Hop in 2012. And how could they not love this masterpiece? The prime chuck and sirloin are ground in-house, then topped with house-made bacon jam, three-year-old Wisconsin white cheddar, bone marrow salt, red onion and mixed Mesclun greens on a pretzel bun. 1321 W. Taylor St., 312-243-1577

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