Who makes Chicago's best burger? Is it the little dive bar down the street with a grill in the alley that hardly anyone knows about or is it the one where people are willing to stand in line for hours, no matter the weather, like Au Cheval (800 W Randolph St)?
Does price matter? Is the $53 Japanese A-5 wagyu beef burger at Roister really that much better than Paradise Pup's char burger for $4.49 or the RHR double cheeseburger at Red Hot Ranch for $4.79 or for that matter the Double Fatso burger at Fatso's Last Stand for $7.50?
The question has been the subject of many debates and fodder for media types for decades.
Just Google Chicago's best burger, like I did, and you'll get something like 4,930,000 results
For the past ten years Bon Appétit presents Chicago Gourmet has been trying to get to the bottom of the burger debate with their highly popular, always a sellout, Hamburger Hop coming Friday, September 27 from 6-9 p.m. to the Harris Theater Rooftop.
The event, hosted by Bon Appétit Editor in Chief Adam Rapoport, Food Director Carla Lalli Music and Epicurious Editor David Tamarkin, features a competition that pits 15 celebrity chefs against each other to see who can create the best burger.
A carefully selected panel of celebrity judges blindly taste each of the chefs’ creations to choose the winner. Attendees also vote using their Blue Moon bottle caps to cast votes for the People’s Choice winner.
Last year's winner Tony Priolo, chef-owner of Maillard Tavern (494 N. Milwaukee Ave.), a tiny 40-seat bar and grill, walked away with the bragging rights for winning both the Judge's Award and the People's Choice award with his City Slicker burger that features black-truffle pesto, foie-gras mayo, seared foie gras and crispy prosciutto di Parma.
Past winners include: Pork & Mindy's Jeff Mauro whose burger, topped with engine sauce, crispy cherry pepper and jalapeño Havarti, won the People's Choice award in 2013 and Howells & Hood's Kimchi Burger for the Judges Award the same year.
The time was right in 2014 when Good Stuff Eatery's Spike Mendelsohn, won the vote for his Prez Obama Burger--(still on the menu at his South Wabash Avenue Eatery).
Other past winners include: Daniel Grynevich | Kuma’s Too; Kevin Hickey | Rockit RanchProductions; Dino Tsaknis | Primehouse; John Hogan and Tony Mantuano of River Roast (two time winners) and Martial Noguier of Bistronomic.
Trends change, burgers change. Will the fried egg still be king in 2019? Will bacon ever go away? Head cheese, broccolini and kimchi toppings made it to the win column in past years but what will this year's hot toppings be?
It looks like we'll just have to wait and see whose burger will win in 2019--the only thing we can be pretty sure about--with Buckhead Meats being the sponsor--it won't be an impossible burger.
This year's competition includes:
- Emily Bloom | Half Sour
- Ryan Burns | Monnie Burke’s
- Kevin Cuddihee | Porter Kitchen & Deck
- Amanda Downing Salas | Smoke Daddy Wrigleyville
- Gabriel Freeman | Scofflaw
- Greg Gaardbo | Chicago Culinary Kitchen
- John Gatsos | Tavern on Rush
- James Klewin | Burger Federation
- John McLean & Martin Murch | Burger Bar
- Michael McKinnell | Mordecai
- Lamar Moore | The Swill Inn / Chit Chat Lounge
- Matt Smith | Mastro’s Steakhouse
- Zach Walrath | The Florentine
- Katie Wasielewski | Pub Royale
Tickets for Hamburger Hop
Hamburger Hop tickets are $125 (exclusive of taxes and fees). Attendees must be at least 21 years of age.
Small Bites of Chicago
The Signature Room (875 N. Michigan Ave.) hosts its annual Air & Water Show VIP Viewing Party on Saturday, August 17 and Sunday, August 18 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. each day. Attendees can enjoy unrivaled sights of the cityscape from a lavish, private viewing room while reveling in the high-flying action of the longstanding Chicago Air & Water Show with a buffet and a premium open bar.
THE BEST SEAT IN TOWN
Watch this year's Chicago Air & Water Show, for the first time ever from Offshore the new rooftop space at the eastern tip of Navy Pier (above Festival Hall).
Offshore is offering special viewing packages throughout the weekend, beginning on Friday, August 16 (rehearsal day) through Sunday, August 18. Breakdown of dates and prices are included below. All tickets include exclusive access into Offshore, along with open bar, brunch and grilling stations, and live music throughout. Tickets are available for purchase online.
Friday, August 16
- General Admission: 11 AM – 3 PM: $125 per guest
- VIP Marina Table (For groups of 14): $2,000
- VIP Lounge, South or North View: (For groups of 15): $3,000, and $3,500, respectively
Saturday, August 17
- General Admission: 10 AM – 3 PM: $150 per guest
- VIP Marina Tables (for groups of 14): $2,500
Sunday, August 18
- General Admission: 10 AM – 3 PM: $150 per guest
- Marina Table (for groups of 14): $2,500
- VIP Lounge, South or North View: (For groups of 15): $3,000, and $3,500
THE AUGUST BURGER (it has it all)
Take a break or head over to nearby RJ Grunts after the Air & Water show for a burger and a beer or one of their other specials. Weekend specials include:
- Brunch for the adults plus plenty of kid-friendly options for the little ones, stroller valet and more
- RJ Grunts "World Famous Salad Bar"
- OR check out the August burger of the month. It's a Double Smash Burger featuring two beef patties smashed and grilled to order then piled high with American cheese, thick-cut bacon, Dijon aioli, grilled red onions, pickles and a fried egg all atop a toasted brioche bun.