1335 W Wrightwood Ave
Chicago, IL 60614
If you are a fairly middling establishment in the middle of a gigantic metropolis with no distinguishing qualities, you can either embrace what you are, or pretend to be something you are not. And Tavish is certainly doing the former. They have blown up to the size of a young child the print-out of their #2 ranking for miniburgers on TOC's list and put it on the window. This endorsement faces an equally-sized plug from the Chicago Tribune, which looks considerably older than the TOC list (hmmmm). Not too cool to act like they didn't care, I immediately appreciated Tavish's swagger in showing off "what they got."
About 6-8 of us occupied the front be-television-ed room, but the entire place was massively long, resembling a Viking ship, somewhere that a Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes meeting wouldn't be out of place (or in Nat's terms, "if Darwin's were a crackhouse"). On to the burgers...
One strange discrepancy between TOC's write-up and Tavish's menu is that the miniburgers were served as three, not four (as TOC suggested). Fries (what looked to be oven-fried potato chips) accompanied the burgers for a total cost of $8. The burgers themselves, I enjoyed quite a bit. They were done perfectly medium (although we weren't asked how we wanted them prepared) and were at an optimal level of moistness--they were not greasy at all (note: I like to err on the side of dry). The buns were lightly toasted and the pickles were pickles. I liked the fry-chips more than Nat did and thought they contributed to the overall stoic dinginess of the atmosphere.
The owner was sufficiently jolly enough to offer us free shots (which he seemed to be enjoying as well). They apparently had run out of Jim Beam so we were pleasantly served shots of Jack Daniels ("his brother") instead. You know what you should do if you own a dimly lit neighborhood place that is occupied by seven people on a snowy Wednesday night during a recession?
Offer free shots.
Now, to reveal the truth of this mission, we planned to grab miniburgers as a mere appetizer before hitting the newly opened Five Guys in Lincoln Park. Five Guys, a legendary burger chain from the DC area is a much welcome addition to Chicago. Nat's Alexandria-VA roots allowed him multiple meals at the original Five Guys, but for me it was my first time. The Tavish burgers were more filling than I expected so I only finished half of my burger, but I was seriously impressed. Despite the average-tasting fries and somewhat medical atmosphere (cold and fluorescent), this place is now a definite destination spot.
[Five Guys in all its glory]I ordered mine with bacon tomato, onions, ketchup, mustard, and pickles, which was served to me as a more conservative/stable version of a Thats-a-Burger. I should mention Nat noted that the Chicago creation differed significantly in this regard from the original version (i.e. our buns remained fully intact). It was a delicious beast, and a great value (the diverse array of free toppings is a huge plus). Now I wouldn't say I would drive north all the way North for Five Guys, but if one was located in my neighborhood, I would get extremely fat.