The Chicago Tribune put 34 judges to work tasting one hundred hamburgers to come up with Chicago's Best Burgers. I have never tried any of the top five, but I have been to three of the eleven runner-up restaurants.
When I worked in far-west suburban Yorkville around 1990, we occasionally ordered burgers from Bristol Tap in Bristol. Bristol Tap looks pretty much like a hundred other small-town Midwestern taverns, and one wouldn't suspect from the outside that they serve such fabulous burgers. It was a 30-minute roundtrip drive just to pick up our lunch, but it was always worth it. The burgers were huge, relatively inexpensive, and incredibly tasty. It's been more than a decade since I ate a Bristol Tap burger, but they really left an impression on me. I'm glad to see the Tribune was willing to go to the edge of the metropolitan area to check them out, and I gather that the reviewers were glad, too.
Another burger I've had several times is Hackney's. I've been to their locations in Wheeling and Glenview, the latter being a favorite meeting spot for my wife's Northeastern Illinois Rose Society. I'm not crazy about flowers, but I always tag along when their meetings are at Hackney's. Hackney burgers are very good, but Bristol Tap's are better.
While I had to drive to Bristol Tap and Hackney's, I could literally crawl to another runner-up, Rockwell's Neighborhood Grill--it's at the end of my block! Rockwell's has only been around for a year, but they honed their burger-making skills previously in Dallas where a local magazine named their burgers the best in town. Oddly enough, I can't remember ever eating a burger at Rockwell's. I love their barbecue chicken sandwich, and their chopped chicken salad is also good. The Tribune notes their great french fries, too. On Sundays, Rockwell's has an exceptional brunch buffet. I guess I will have to crawl on over for a burger sometime soon!
And shame on me for never dining at Square Kitchen, another nearby restaurant that made the runner-up list. I guess I need to get out more. It's hard to get used to living in a hip neighborhood.