Chicago, IL 60603
One of the trickier aspects of eating this many burgers (or, more specifically, eating this many kinds of burgers) is mentally resetting from one meal to the next. So regularly do I eat at Kuma's that now, whenever I pick up a hamburger—wherever I am—my parietal lobes expect a sandwich of that quality, and when this doesn't happen, wires get crossed, shit goes haywire, I get angry, etc. We're still in the early stages, but I'm taking this opportunity to remind myself that a hamburger is not always "just a hamburger."
Why'd I get a Sprite? I don't know.
Patty Burger is TOC's second-best "fast-food burger" (every meal that passes leaves me even more mystified as to what their criteria for these categories must be), and I doubt that Patty Burger would have any—sorry—beef with this designation. Chicago's Patty Burger is a small, narrow space currently hidden behind scaffolding near the corner of Adams and Michigan. The interior generally bright with stainless-steel furnishings, although everything was looking pretty dingy and scuffed by 6 PM on a Thursday. The menu's simple (burgers, fries, shakes, chili)—everything will be familiar to anyone who's ever eaten at Wendy's. Things look a little nicer and are a little more expensive, so you're expecting, maybe, a well-made-Whopper-when-you're-really-hungry experience.
Here's my double, just as it comes if you don't specify anything.
Note: no pickles. I really like pickles and they would have added some dimension to what turned out to be a pretty one-dimensional burger.
Adam had a double without "the sauce" (beige and completely flavorless), bacon (+ 99¢), and grilled onions (+ 59¢). With large fries and a chocolate shake, Adam's burger was flirting with $10, which is close to the unforgiving realm of Kuma's and Rosebud Steakhouse. Our university IDs earned us $1-ish discounts on the whole meals.
The pleasant-but-none-too-quick ladies behind the counter stiffed Adam the bacon on their first try, but were happy enough to add it and rewrap the whole thing.
Forget about the fries; they add nothing.
This may sound odd, but we both (passionately) agree that the Patty Burger is best described as "the burger you would eat at the zoo." (Keep in mind that Adam and I grew up in very different parts of the country, with very different zoos, but immediately knew what we were talking about.) There's a very food-service quality to Patty Burger, which is not necessarily worse any other fast-food restaurants; it's just not as familiar as a McDonald's, BK, or Wendy's burger (although the patty is a lot like McD's Big and Tasty patty). The facts: the vegetables were fresher than you'd find at any of those places, and the burger wasn't greasy. For some reason, it felt more like a rock in my gut than anything we've sampled so far, but that could be attributable to any number of factors. Adam concedes, somewhat sheepishly, that his shake was really good.
Patty Burger's ironic retro po-mo pinup girl iconography notwithstanding, they're selling a sandwich that's much closer to modern fast-food offerings than the 1930s-style burger that you might find at a drive-in. I think the Loop would love a spot like that-there are enough Sysco-supplied cafeterias already.