When it comes to smash burgers, I’m a charred-edges man. Two ultrathin patties, please, each singed around the corners until they flake like South Side burnt ends. Suffice to say, they smash ’em good at Bitter Pops: one part takeout beer emporium, one part family-friendly taproom. There are no froufrou toppings, just grilled onions, American cheese, and a dynamite Dijonnaise, which marries a garlicky aïoli with a sharp mustard. Imagine an elevated patty melt served on a potato bun — only with edges so gloriously brittle you’d swear chef Steve McCrea ironed every one.
The code word for the whole menu should be “extra-crispy.” I’d quibble with using whitefish — a mite pungent — for the fish and chips, but the Courage-lager-leavened batter puffs up like fried shrimp chips. And heat seekers will enjoy the fried chicken sandwich, which is heavy on the black pepper, as well as a beer cheese with Fresno chiles served with a soft Bavarian pretzel to scoop it up.
It’s impossible not to go gaga over the draft list. Except for the house flagship Courage lager — a helles bock that you should grab in a four-pack on your way out the door — no brew is on tap more than once per year, providing regulars a different “pop” to sample every visit.