Chicago is a burger-obsessed city. Practically every neighborhood is overrun with different burger options, from famous chains like Shake Shack to one-off favorites like Fatso's Last Stand. But what some may not realize is that Chicago's best burgers are not necessarily the fast-casual hot spots, but the seasoned steakhouse. It makes sense when you think about it. Steakhouses specialize in all things beef, and since Chicagoans are as steakhouse-obsessed as they are burger-obsessed, it goes to show the savorous scope of our beefy dining landscape. Here are some of the best steakhouse burgers in Chicago:
Tavern on Rush: Utilizing the same cuts of meat on-hand for steak preparations, Tavern on Rush offers a handful of different burger options, all of them exceptional. These things are big and juicy, but no so much that you need to unhinge your jaw to chew it, which is always nice. The prime steak burger features a blend of short rib, brisket, and chuck, while the rib-eye version comes with caramelized onions, mushroom, fontina, and chipotle mayo. There's also an Angus burger, along with a vegan option and a housemade turkey burger, which isn't bad either. Tavern has also been known to add seasonal burger specials to the menu, like bison burgers with Cabernet onions and black cherry jam.
Harry Caray's Italian Steakhouse: The aptly named "steakhouse burgers" at Harry Caray's are what you need when your next burger craving hits. The sheer inventive variety is enough to appease a burger fanatic, let alone the incomparable flavor and unique combination of ingredients. The signature "Holy Cow!" burger contains a 10-oz. sirloin patty outfitted with candied bacon, five-year Gouda, lettuce, Harry's steak sauce, and a brioche bun. Or you can go exotic with the Spicy Thai burger, featuring a grass-fed patty along with pickled carrots, radishes, fresh jalapeno, cilantro, Sriracha mayo, and a brioche bun. The Wagyu burger is great too, since it sort of resembles and tastes like steak au poivre, what with its peppercorn crust, Brandy, Gorgonzola, and watercress, all heaped on a chewy pretzel roll.
Prime & Provisions: The modest-sounding burger at Prime & Provisions isn't messing around. Like everything else on the extravagant menu here, the ingredients are top-notch, the flavors are bracing, and the altogether final product is deeply indulgent. Using the same dry-aged prime beef the steakhouse has on hand for burlier meat preparations, the burger showcases a succulent, thick patty along with sharp Wisconsin cheddar, and Dijonaise, which is always a welcome addition to any burger. It's served on a fluffy brioche bun, which does a nice job of soaking up all those beefy juices. For supplemental cost, you can add thick-cut bacon and/or a farm egg to gild the lily.
RL: This Michigan Avenue staple is a power lunch Mecca for good reason. Along with all those gigantic crowd-pleasing salads, soups, appetizers, and entrees, there's the simple-yet-sublime RL Burger. There isn't much added to this thing, because there doesn't need to be. Thanks to the perfect grind on that Prime Angus beef and the deliciously dense challah bun sandwiching it.
Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab: There should be an addendum at the end of this restaurant's name, because the classic cheeseburger at Joe's is equally deserving of tentpole status along with those stone crabs and steaks. It may seem basic, but it's the all-American nostalgia and the refreshing simplicity that sets this burger apart. It's one of the best versions of the classic Americana burger we've had the pleasure of tasting, featuring a time-tested formula of beef patty, shredded lettuce, thick beefsteak tomato, onions, and a side of fries.
STK: If it's a daintier burger you're after, you won't do any better than the famous "lil' BRGs" at STK. One of the most renowned items on the menu at this national chain of sexy, sociable steakhouses, the slider burgers are fan favorites for good reason. They may be tiny, but they pack a sizable punch of flavor, thanks to the use of Wagyu beef, "special" sauce, and pillowy, buttery sesame seed buns. For additional cost, you can add truffles and/or foie gras.
Maple & Ash: Amidst all the glitz and glamour of this Gold Coast newcomer lies one of the best new burgers in Chicago. The signature Maple & Ash burger features 1/2-lb. of salacious beef, oozing with cheddar cheese, crisp bacon, and pickles. There's also red onion jam and garlic aioli, both of which raise the bar on the overall flavor portfolio substantially.