A good burger joint, like a Chicago summer fest or a pre-1997 Disney animated feature, are one of the few things the whole family really can enjoy together. No cheese? No problem? Ketchup? Have at it.
We’ve updated one of our readers’ favorite lists from last year to celebrate National Burger Day, which this year happens to coincide with Memorial Day. As if we really need an excuse to think about the yummy juicy burgers at our favorite burger places in Chicagoland.
The Lucky Monk
“The best burgers for variety, taste and price” and “out of this world,” says our go-to restaurant reviewer Alena Murguia of this hotspot. The burgers come in two sizes (6 oz. and 9 oz.), and all under $11, helping to accommodate appetites of various sizes. With the thin-cut and perfectly seasoned fries that came with, you’ll feel like the lucky one.105 Hollywood Blvd., South Barrington,(847) 898-0500
Epic doesn’t have a separate kids’ menu, but everything they make is customizable. Choose from beef, turkey, portabella, chicken or egg burgers, and add toppings ranging from eggs to bacon to pickles. It features all-natural meats, cage-free eggs and nitrate-free bacon and caters to allergies, always a plus. Six area locations, epicburger.com
The Bad Apple
At first glance, The Bad Apple restaurant in Chicago’s North Center neighborhood might not strike a parent as kid friendly. But this hip venue is famous for its gourmet burgers and fries, plus it’s all-fresh ingredients and clever kids’ menu.Those with adventurous palates should try Elvis’ Last Supper, a burger topped with peanut butter and bacon (“trust us, it’s good,” the menu promises) or The Hangover, a burger lavished with house-glazed ham, over-easy egg, bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, ketchup, mayo, mustard, provolone and fries served on a pretzel bun. Kids can choose a more basic burger or play chef themselves by ordering a “Creat-ables” sandwich where they make their own. 4300 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago,(773) 360-8406,
Want to indulge in burgers and fries without the guilt? Head north to Glencoe, where Everest Burger serves up hormone-free, steroid-free beef, vegetarian burgers and the healthiest version of French fries around.”The burger and fries are a comfortable American staple,” owner Margarita Challenger says. “We wanted to make sure that it’s also wholesome and you know what you’re eating.”To that end, meat is freshly ground at the restaurant each day. Wild Alaskan salmon is shipped in since they didn’t want to use farm-raised salmon. Three vegetarian burgers-portabella mushroom, walnut and black bean-are served. And fries are made from organic potatoes cooked in rice bran oil. Even the ketchup is organic.To accommodate families who need to avoid gluten, an on-site bakery makes the hamburger buns each day using a gluten-free recipe.91 Green Bay Road,Glencoe, (847) 242-0909, everestburger.com
Tom& Eddie’s is a place where old-fashioned burgers and shakes meet modern day décor and technology. After only one visit, Murguia’s 10-year-old has declared it his “favorite burger place,” and for good reason. He built his own concoction with cheddar, avocado, onions and fried wontons. As if the delicious food weren’t enough, Tom& Eddie’s offers many family-friendly amenities. Kids can grab any number of toys to take to the table-most of which are wooden and brain-powered, a refreshing change. Locations in Lombard, Geneva, Deerfield, Vernon Hills. tomandeddies.com
DMK Burger Bar
The menu has 14 burgers with ingredients like pickled onions and a spicy chipotle ketchup we want to swim in. There’s a basic burger with lettuce, tomato, onion, cheese and bread& butter pickles that’s a good starting point for most kids, and adults will love the quirkier options like bison (all the flavor, half the fat of beef) and portobello mushroom. Mac& cheese and grilled cheese are also available. Spring for the table-sized fries – the cheddar and scallion will be a hit with even the pickiest eaters. dmkburgerbar.com
Rockwell’s Neighborhood Grill
This Lincoln Square eatery has a substantial menu, and with the crazy good paninis, it could be easy to miss the burger altogether. That would be a mistake. These burgers are seriously good. Nothing fancy – none of DMK’s gruyere or blueberry BBQ sauce – but just very, very good, from the burger itself to the always-fresh veggies or perfectly cheesy cheese fries. This is also a seriously kid-friendly place – Sunday brunch is at least 60 percent families with young kids. Maybe it has something to do with the lovely patio space or the basket of Dum Dum lollipops for the taking on the way out. 4632 N. Rockwell S., Chicago, rockwellsgrill.com