The burger is to lunch what steak is to dinner: a special indulgence. We scoured the city for nine exceptional specimens, guaranteeing satisfaction —and a marked decline in post-meal productivity.
No Nap Needed
, $9.50, 1/2-pound
COMES WITH lettuce, beefsteak tomato, red onion, and choice of cheese on a brioche bun
➼ Good burger made even better by knowing that while you’re consuming mass calories, there’s a roomful of CrossFit clones in an adjacent gym sweating them out. Schadenfreude with a side of fries.
335 W. 9th St., 434-4287
Good Morning Burger
, $7.50, 1/3-pound
COMES WITH Smoking Goose bacon, a locally sourced egg (cooked to order), and cream cheese
➼ Hand-held brunch for people who don’t do brunch. Stock up on the napkins—this one leaks.
137 E. Ohio St., 426-5280
, $9.75, 1/3-pound
COMES WITH bacon marmalade, arugula, and Gorgonzola on a toasted roll
➼ Bright and peppery with a whiff of smoke, the only drawback to this burger is waiting in line for it. Tip Pre-order online.
Do Not Operate Heavy Machinery
Black Market Burger
, $16, 1/3-pound
COMES WITH grilled red onion, green- tomato pickles, and goat-cheese spread
➼ At some places, the burger is an add-on to the menu, a bone for the vulgar palate. This is not one of those places, and this burger—part lamb and therefore always served medium rare—is arguably the best in the city.
922 Massachusetts Ave., 822-6757
, $10, 1/3-pound
COMES WITH provolone cheese, jalapeño, cayenne, habanero peppers, and Fat Dan’s housemade hot sauce
➼ If Mrs. O’Leary’s cow really did cause the Great Chicago Fire, consider this offering the Windy City–inspired deli’s revenge. Don’t fret: The heat doesn’t overwhelm so much as it blooms.
5410 N. College Ave., 600-3333
, $11, 1/2-pound
COMES WITH Taleggio cheese, bacon-tomato jam, caramelized onion, chopped lettuce, and mayo
➼ The mild and floral cheese plays well with its more-earthy co-stars. You’ll want an encore, but you won’t have room.
410 Massachusetts Ave., 635-4278
Double w/ Cheese
, $5.75, 1/2-pound
COMES WITH two smashed patties dressed with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickle
➼ Eating the cash-only dive’s crispy-edged centerpiece is like a sweet union job: a little bit of work followed by stretches of rest.
234 N. Belmont Ave., 636-2067
Take A Half-Day
, $11.50, 1/2-pound
COMES WITH tomato, lettuce, pickle, onion, and choice of cheese
➼ You’re probably going to order this burger because you didn’t think you’d finish the 1-pound Big Ugly. So, congrats, you’re only a little bit of a glutton.
620 S. Main St., Zionsville, 344-0927; 210 W. Main St., Carmel, 706-2827
, $14, 1/3-pound
COMES WITH pastrami, lettuce, Utah fry sauce, and cheddar
➼ There is so much pastrami on this burger–made for those torn between deli and brazier–that you could reserve half of it for a light dinner.
123 S. Illinois St., 737-1616
This article appeared in the September 2015 Issue.