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The Ultimate Burger Chain Smackdown

Welcome to the battle of the chains.

In recent months, a sizable crop of big-name national burger joints has sprouted up in town. So how do these outsiders stack up against your homegrown burger slingers? Chicago sampled the standard or signature offering at each, pitting the newcomers against the locals to find out who is flipping the most delicious patty. See below to feast your eyes on the results.

Fast Food

Visitors Home Team
ShackBurger
Photo: Anna Knott
Double M Burger
Photo: Anna Knott
ShackBurger
Shake Shack
Double M Burger
M Burger
A slim patty topped simply with melty cheese, lettuce, tomato, and proprietary sauce (which is welcome, but tastes like mayo and ketchup); the potato-y bun is a sturdy vessel. $5.19, shakeshack.com A flat quarter-pounder (best to double up) under bacon, LTO, American cheese, and “secret sauce” (which may share its secret with Shake Shack’s) with a squishy bun. $5.39, mburgerchicago.com

Winner: ShackBurger
Shack’s pillowy bun is far superior (best in show, in fact), and its exclusive beef blend outshines M’s salty underwhelmer.

Fancy Fast Food

Visitors Home Team
Farmhouse Burger
Photo: Jeff Marini
Epic Burger Classic
Photo: Anna Knott
Farmhouse Burger
Good Stuff Eatery
Epic Burger Classic
Epic Burger
A hefty (third-pound!) medium-rare burger with tomato, onion, lettuce, pickle, and creamy house sauce served on a toasted Pennsylvania Dutch bun. $6.50, goodstuffeatery.com A hand-formed Angus patty with onion, romaine, tomato, pickle, cheese, and Thousand Island–esque sauce ensconced in a golden Turano Baking bun. $5.29, epicburger.com

Winner: Farmhouse Burger
Despite the wimpy roll, Good Stuff’s caramelized patty easily beats Epic’s greasy slab on a butter-bomb bun.

Sit-Down

Visitors Home Team
Umami Burger
Photo: Anna Knott
No. 8 Burger
Photo: Anna Knott
Umami Burger
Umami Burger
No. 8 Burger
DMK Burger Bar
Steak ground with tamari- and miso-based sauce topped with a Parmesan chip, a shiitake mushroom, roasted tomato, caramelized onion, and fancy house ketchup—all piled onto a brioche bun. $11.50, umamiburger.com Loosely packed beef with LTO, bread-and-butter pickles, mayo, and the cheese of your choosing (Amish blue is a solid pick!) on a white bun dusted with flour. $9.50, dmkburgerbar.com

Winner: No. 8 Burger
Umami has intriguing ingredients but mushy, unevenly cooked meat; DMK’s crumbly patty wins by default.

Overall Winner: Good Stuff Eatery

There’s something to be said for local loyalty, but the incredible Farmhouse Burger from this D.C. import tops anything the beloved Chicago-based chains have to offer.

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