Wednesday, March 7, 2007


2134 E 71ST St
Chicago, IL 60649-2116

As the type of guy who likes to eat big but at the same time keep my JDate body type status at "proportional," That's-A-Burger (TAB) was the ideal spot. The massive piece of meat served here in no way feels unhealthy; it is a flavorful burger that emits virtually no grease. The lettuce and tomato are fresh, and the onions (grilled recommended, though they can be ordered raw) lend an appropriate juice to the burger's consistency.

Nat and I both had extremely high expectations for TAB, especially after reading Rene G's extensive dissection of the place on LTHForum. The pics looked serious; so we prepared for the venture by eating relatively tasteless lunches, me 2/3 of a mozzarella sandwich, Nat a sauteed chicken breast and asparagus. By 5pm, we were appropriately hungry, so we hopped in the car and headed down to 71st St. The place is extremely missable, modestly situated between manicure and check cashing venues on either side and
sporting only a small yellow sign. Behind the bulletproof glass-enclosed cash register indoors, we noticed a large non-functional neon THAT'S-A-BURGER sign practically hidden along the wall, perhaps a remnant of days past. As has been well-documented, the venue has no seating, so we were lucky enough to have a car, in which to get down with the meal.

[Every visible spelling of the restaurant includes the apostrophe/S except for the small script on the door that read That-A-Burger. As Nat noted, the name may serve as somewhat of a subtle Yankee dig at the popular Southern chain, Whataburger]

It is very important to note that this is not a "Hey let's walk and eat" or "I'll take some bites on my bike" caliber burger. This is a meal that needs to be sat down for. Of course, Nat and I did order double-burgers--Nat's with cheese, peppers, and an egg, mine with bacon and peppers--but I cannot support placing a smaller order, unless of course you are rocking matching X chromosomes. A single burger weighs a half pound. The double burger + "everything" + fries sits right around a pound and a quarter to a pound and a half. The bag feels heavy in your hand, like carrying around a copy of The Tale of Genji.

For all of the praise I could give the burger, the fries were my favorite aspect of the meal. As the LTH thread notes, they are pre-salted and like the burger lack any excessive grease. Next to Hot Doug's fries, TAB's fries are the closest I have tasted to State Fair-caliber fries in Chicago. The amount provided, standard with every burger, was perfect. Not so many that they feel like an additional meal, not so few that they feel like a throw-in. The total amount of food consumed, as large as it was, in fact felt ideal. Incredibly filling, yet failing to produce any pre-volcanic gastric rupturing. And all for under $10.

[Double burger with bacon and jalapenos. Engaged in a staredown with this beast]

[Nat's piece. Double cheeseburger with peppers and an egg. This was Nat's alternate choice to the TAB Special--essentially the same burger but with chili and bacon as well, which the staff said was not being prepared that day. Consuming the TAB Special on our first voyage may have been hubris anyway. We'll be back]

After eating our food we paid a quick and unfruitful visit to both City Sports and Athlete's Foot looking for sneakers. City Sports displayed all their joints in shrinkwrap,
which sort of instantly sterilizes even the nicest pair of kicks. Athlete's Foot advertised some surprisingly good deals on Air Alpha Force high tops, but nothing in the appropriate color (i.e. not white). Content with the excursion, we strolled back to the car and opened the door to a beautiful aroma:

"It smells like a meat doughnut in here."

"Yes, exactly."


Stein said...

Dude, this place is shut down and boarded up.....WTF.

Unknown said...

No it's not. I ate their just last week. You must have gone when they were closed, LOL! When they are closed, they REALLY look CLOSED!

exmrsd said...

Anyone know when this place is supposed to reopen?? The phone line is still busy.

ksr said...

I went there today @ 6:30p and they looked closed...for good:( Since someone said they ate there 2 weeks ago, I'm going to give it another shot...maybe earlier in the day.

rose said...

Its open!! Hope its all its cracked up to be. Having lunch there today.

Unknown said...

One time, I went to Burger King and ate four Whoppers in one sitting. It was the greatest day of my life.

-Jon Pollina

Unknown said...

One time my friend Jon Pollina and I went to Burger King and Jon ate four whole Whoppers. Jon said it was the greatest day of his life.

Anonymous said...

Sorry I have to say it... I work in Viagra Online labs controlling the fat levels on some food and this looks disgusting and horrible... that can't be called a burger...

Anonymous said...

That's-A-Burger is not one of my favorite placxes to eat something, even though I have to say burguers are delicious, but the fact is the ambiance of the place is terrible. the owners must do something if they don't want to lose their clients.
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