A grilled cheese burger on a bun with pickles onions lettuce and tomato with fries and a strawberry shake on the side

Restaurant Review: South Loop’s Burger Bar Chicago a respite after museum campus-ing

A grilled cheese burger on a bun with pickles onions lettuce and tomato with fries and a strawberry shake on the side

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer, and with it, the start of the season of fun and exploration for the whole family!

After a day on Museum Campus, exploring, say, the Adler Planetarium, the Field Museum, and the Shedd Aquarium, there’s one thing you might need…food and drink!

My family recently experienced a day like this, trudging beneath the scenic underpass between Museum Campus, DuSable Lake Shore Drive and Roosevelt Road. We were hot, tired and thirsty. And like an oasis in the desert, we found Burger Bar Chicago,1150 S. Michigan Avenue. 

This casual, rustic South Loop oasis had everything we needed to restore our energy for the drive home. And for the four of us, there was something we all liked, at reasonable prices. Their cooked-to-order, creatively concocted burgers, combined with freshly made french fries, washed down with a fountain drink, one of their creatively constructed  milkshakes, or a cold one from the bar, will restore your energy, and the enthusiastic servers are eager to please. 

They were true to their word on serving signature 100% USDA Prime Beef Stackers and Burgers, or a Steak-on-a-Bun. 

My no-frills, picky 19-year-old chose a ‘Create your own’ double-stack, with American cheese and bacon on a brioche bun, with tater tots, pronouncing it “tasty…perfect!” This is high praise coming from them. 

Each month, they feature a ‘Stacker of the Month’ burger. In May, Their Chilaquiles HambergUSA Stacker is one-half pound of USDA prime beef, crisp spicy tortillas, salsa verde, smoked pull pork, chili lime crema, crispy onions, sunny up egg, and cilantro on a buttery brioche bun.

My order was a little trickier. My Powerhouse Veggie Stacker, though ranked “Best 16 Veggie Burgers,” with a ‘powerhouse’ patty, baby arugula, avocado, goat cheese, tomato, chipotle aioli on a toasted whole wheat bun sounded delicious, but was a little mushy and not seasoned well. Maybe it was a tough night for the kitchen? Anyway, our delightful server was more than happy to replace it with their Impossible Burger, with my choice of toppings. I’ll admit I haven’t been a big fan of the plant-based offerings in recent years, but this perfectly char-grilled patty and freshly made brioche bun made for a fantastic meal, served with their crispy and delicious sweet potato fries. 

My mother was another challenge. Her 4’8, 85-pound frame can only handle so much food. She ordered from their kids menu. Two Burger Buddies are two mini-beef American cheeseburgers, on toasted butter brioche buns, with your choice of small side of fresh cut fries, sweet fries, tater tots or house kettle chips. However, Mom wanted a small salad instead, and they accommodated her wishes. 

For those who like bison, their Wild Bill Stacker, a WGN National 2018 Cheeseburger-of-the-Year selection, is made with a local-raised, grass-fed lean bison patty, arugula, goat cheese, and tomato chutney on a pretzel roll.

For those who aren’t burger fans, there’s lots of other options, from bowls to salads, to chicken wings and mac n’ cheese.

As we say when warranted, “SAVE ROOM FOR DESSERT!” In this case, save room for their  SHAKE OF THE MONTH!

In May, it’s DULCE DE LECHE: They serve family-owned Homer homemade, blended dulce de leche ice cream, topped with house vanilla whipped cream, cinnamon sugar churros crumbles, and caramel sauce. Mmmm! Others include Oreo shakes and many other flavors.

Don’t just take my word for it that Burger Bar Chicago is good:

“I came here with a group of friends,” said a Google reviewer. “Yes, they are short staffed so everything takes a little while. But, your patience is definitely worth it. I had the Wild Bill burger and it was delicious! Highly recommended was the Firehouse Stacker. The drinks were great and reasonably priced. The staff here are super friendly! So be patient, have fun, and enjoy the service from the staff!”

“Got this something diner burger and it was absolutely scrumptious,” another wrote. “I literally couldn’t finish it and needed silverware to cut it. The egg was perfectly yolky and the fried pickles were so good. There was also this kinda spicy sauce that gave it a good balance. It also wasn’t too oily and neither were the fries. The fries are good alone but perfect with ketchup. I liked how you could put as much condiments as you wanted. The iced tea was good but if you like sweet tea I recommend asking for sugar. “

Burger Bar Chicago is located at 1150 S. Michigan Avenue, and is open Mondays-Thursdays, 11:30am–10pm, Fridays and Saturdays, 11am–11pm, and Sundays, 11am-9pm. For reservations and information,click here.

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago