Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The battle of the Burger Bars

Hip-Urban style burger bars are popping up all over the city. I've finally made it to the big Three: The Counter, DMK Burger Bar, and Burger Bar.

Each burger joint has it's own concept that comes along with pros and cons, particularly for the Glutoids that have to forego the buns.  Why can't any of these places carry gluten-free buns?  I'm going to give you a quick rundown of each place and share my likes/dislikes.

1) The Counter - Best versatility for gluten-free eaters
The idea behind "The Counter" is that you can build any combination your little heart desires.  The website says there are "312,120+ different burger combinations" so if you ate a different burger here for every day of your life, it would take 855 years to eat one of every combination.  Too many options you say? Not for me, the gluten-free gal who loves the option to put her burger atop fresh salad greens a la "burgers in a bowl" rather than get a greasy patty served up on a plate.

There are also signature chef selections for those of you who don't know how to combine roasted garlic aioli with the best toppings and cheese selections. 

I love all of the options you have, from the type of meat, to the size of meat to cheese, sauces and toppings.  The combinations are endless.  I love that I can choose whether I want 1/3 to 1 pound - this place gets that girls don't need the same serving size as boys! Also, the meat is hormone and antibiotic free.  Burgers range from $7.50-$10.50.

Best yet, the sweet potato fries are my favorite of all three burger places.  And the serving size is enough to feed two or more. 

The Counter
666 W Diversey Pkwy
Chicago, Illinois 60657
(773) 935-1995

2) DMK Burger Bar - Grass fed beef a huge PLUS!
At DMK, you can choose one of 9 burgers offered on high quality grass fed beef.  It's not often you find that in a restaurant.  There are also 5 "alternative" burgers served on turkey, lamb or veggie burgers.

All burgers run $8.00 but the patties are pretty small. I'd venture to guess about 1/4 lb or maybe 1/3 lb at the most per patty. You can double the patty for another $3.00. For gluten-free eaters, couldn't we just order two patties for $6.00?  There aren't any gluten-free buns and the patty comes out on a sheet of wax paper dripping in grease. I don't know about you, but it wasn't all that appetizing to look at.

While I like the freshness and taste of grass-fed beef, I didn't feel like this place gave me the best value on food. I had Burger #1: Aged cheddar, Smoked bacon, charred balsamic red onions, rufus teague's BBQ sauce.  The combination of flavors was unique and kept my taste buds in high-gear yearning for more.  I quickly finished my patty-on-the-plate and was still feeling hungry.

The portions for the fries are also rather small and not really for sharing. But there are so many yummy flavors!  The sweet potato fries could be passed on, they weren't that great. Do try the parmesan fries and the truffle cream! 

You might be mistaken from the outside of DMK and think it's a hip club, but once you're beyond the red brick wall and dark tinted windows, you'll see an exposed brick loft that seats enough to make the place feel crowded on a Tuesday night.

DMK Burger Bar
2954 North Sheffield Avenue
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 360-8686

3) Burger Bar - Bison Burgers are for real
Is this place called "Urban Burger Bar" or simply "Burger Bar"?  I think everyone gets it confused and keeps calling it Urban Burger Bar.

I had a tough time picking which burger I wanted and ended up going with a custom option which wasn't very delicious.  It was hard to pick one burger because there were so many options available with interesting combinations. There were also several alternative options like turkey, chicken, tuna and veggie burgers.  The special of the day was a goat burger but none of us in the 8 person group tried that.

Though there were many pre-selected combinations, you can still opt to make your own.  I ended up with a plain bison patty with avocado slices and the house sauce.  I like that I could order bison patties because it's way more healthy than beef.  On the plus side, they had sweet potato tater tots!! On the minus side, their sweet potato fries were too skinny, burnt and greasy. 

I can't remember how much the burgers cost, but they were definitely over $10 per burger which is overpriced in my book.  I think the bison was even an upcharge and so was the avocado. All I know is that Ernie and I walked away paying $39 for 2 burgers and Ernie had 2 beers.  That's ridiculous.

Burger Bar
1578 North Clybourn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60642
(312) 255-0055

My ideal burger bar would include the following:

1) Gluten-Free buns as an option. If you can supply veggie burgers, you can supply gluten-free buns

2) Delicious sweet potato fries, enough for 1.  Ernie doesn't like sweet potato fries (he only recently confessed it to me after I'd been making him eat them with me for 2 years!)

3) Burgers under $10. McD's can whip 'em out for a buck.  Are you really 10 times more premium?

4) Grass fed beef, bison, turkey and veggie (gluten-free) options please!  A lot of veggie burgers actually have flour so GF friends, please beware!

5) Option to make the burger bowl (like The Counter)

6) Suggested combos but the possibility to make your own!

Is this too much to ask?


Anonymous said...

Funny that you left out Kumas Corner and Bad Apple. DMK is worthy, but Counter Burger? A franchise chain? COMICAL! And Burger Bar? Hahaha. Simply horrible. Keep up your research!

Cindy said...

I really only picked the counter because they have salad bowls. A slab of meat on a plate just isn't all that appetizing. I should definitely try the other two! I heard about Bad Apple before but not Kumas Corner. Thanks for the tips!