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The New Whoppers: Five Extreme Burgers to Eat in Chicago

A list of the biggest, messiest, and wildest burgers worth grabbing with both hands.

Parisian burger from Chef’s Burger Bistro   Photos: Anna Knott

If you’re in the market for a hamburger with everything on it—and I do mean everything—you’re in luck. All of Chicago’s latest burger spots are jockeying to create the most opulent, exotic, and downright outlandish signature beef hunk in the city. Pickles? Onions? Tomatoes? Nope. Try pork belly, French sauces, and doughnut buns.

Here’s a superlative list of over-the-top new burgers—all worth your two-fisted attention.

FANCIEST

Chef’s Burger Bistro

Parisian ($12)

Using the broiler of his imported Spanish charcoal oven, Edward Leonard can sear his burgers in four minutes flat. He can also deep-fry them as if they were chicken-fried steaks and drench them in a brown gravy. But his best offering, the Parisian (seen above), is far more nuanced. Onion jam. Mushrooms. Tomatoes candied with brown sugar and vanilla. A chunk of Brie. It’s a picnic in Paris on a plate.
164 E. Grand Ave., 312-374-3092

 

Big Chef burger
BIGGEST

Big Chef

Big Chef ($20)

Cristiano Bassani tinkers a bit with a few boutique offerings—think Swiss cheese, truffle oil, and a fried egg—but he specializes in sizzling up old-school pub burgers. This is the hungry man’s version of a burger joint. Its namesake sandwich is a meatloaf: two half-pound Angus patties topped with American cheese, sautéed onions, wild mushrooms, bacon, lettuce, and tomato. It feeds one—or possibly eight.
1602 E. Algonquin Rd., Schaumburg, 847-221-8539

 

Big Tex burger
MESSIEST

Burger Boss

Big Tex ($6.69)

The Boss serves thin, richly caramelized patties—topped with everything from a spicy chipotle dressing to blue cheese and mayo—meant to be squeezed into submission. You have to make a mess to get the full effect. Palm the Big Tex and it will gush a river of barbecue sauce, onions, bacon, and bubbling pepper Jack cheese. The result: a runny, juicy, finger-lickin’ delight.
3208 N. Southport Ave., 773-248-2677

 

Stroganoff burger
WILDEST

Buzz

Stroganoff ($10)

At first glance, Marcel Somfelean and Mara Milanovic’s burger menu looks like it’s been pulled from a county fair: glazed doughnut buns, cheese-infused patties, and a stroganoff short-rib burger topped with mushrooms and egg noodles. Bite into the latter and it flat-out hums—even with all that starch—thanks to the earthiness of its farm-raised, grass-fed beef and a wash of red wine that glosses the whole enterprise with a glint of fruit and spice.
1935 W. Irving Park Rd., 773-880-9810

 

Salty Dog burger
PORKIEST

Leadbelly

Salty Dog ($9.95)

They make “bacon burgers” at Leadbelly—a blend of fresh-ground chuck and smoked pork belly so brazenly decadent you can throw anything on top of them: Sriracha pickles, crushed fries with béarnaise sauce, even a fried crab cake. But the best is an ode to Poland called the Salty Dog, a delicious mishmash of homemade sauerkraut, horseradish-mustard aïoli, and bits of Polish sausage that’s practically three meals in one.
5739 W. Irving Park Rd., 773-283-7880

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