Before it closed in 2020, Café Marie-Jeanne served a heck of a burger on Thursdays, and Superkhana International chefs Zeeshan Shah and Yoshi Yamada remember it fondly. The duo, who now host their own Thursday burger night, may be honoring a favorite spot (“Since our first burger night, we’ve worn our Café Marie-Jeanne shirts,” Yamada says), but their burgers are wholly their own. They serve a half-pound beef version as well as a vegetarian option that’s a flavor-filled outlier in a sea of faux-meat offerings. “We really wanted to create a good veggie burger because there aren’t a lot and vegetable cookery is very important to us,” Yamada says. With a side of Manchurian potatoes and a can of Bavik for $25, it’s a burger night memorable in its own right. 3059 W. Diversey Ave., Logan Square
To make the vegan patty, Shah started with a recipe for a mushroom sausage and “kept embellishing.” He adds caramelized mushrooms, onion, garlic, kale, and cracked brown rice. “A lot of vegan patties can be mushy or dense or not have a powerful flavor,” Yamada says. “We focused on texture and umami, and getting a good char.” It’s served on a housemade brioche bun.
Shah and Yamada load on a slice of American cheese, onions caramelized in rice wine vinegar, and super-thin pickles brined with coriander seed, shallot, garlic, and black pepper. The secret ingredient is their special sauce, made by folding tangy Indian tomato achaar into housemade aïoli. “We have to restrain ourselves from putting it on everything,” Yamada says.
Manchurian potatoes, which are drizzled with a sweet-and-sour sauce and aïoli and sprinkled with scallions and sesame seeds, come on the side, as does a small dish of Bombay ketchup, a combination of two Maggi ketchups and Heinz that’s great on both the potatoes and the burger. The meal comes with an ice-cold can of Bavik Super Pils, a light, refreshing beer. “It’s just a really good fit with our burger,” Shah says. “And it’s great marketing.”