When I think hamburgers, I often divert back to my past, when I am reminded of myself as only a small, skinny byte who would engorge herself on McDonald’s hamburgers as an after-school snack. Growing up, I could easily polish off 2-3 burgers in a matter of minutes, chomping down on that greasy bun, with diced onions and tiny pickles spilling out the sides, ketchup usually spotted on the side of my face or down my shirt. I was, and still am, a very messy eater.
Ergo a few years, and my McDonald’s obsession is long-gone yet my fascination with burgers remains. Instead of the fast-food, mass production of “hamburger” joints I so often frequented as a child, I have recently been on the hunt for the best hamburger in town (ahem, Chicago). Let me start by saying, there are probably hundreds upon millions of burger joints all over the city, and I have not, by any means, been to all of them. That is a feat I have yet to weather. That being said, I’ve hit the major leagues for sure, with the one exception of the Kuma Burger, which is next on my list. Without trying to discount any other burger joint in Chicago, many of which I have thoroughly enjoyed (Big & Littles, Fifty/50, Clybourn Burger Bar, etc, etc), I want to truly gush over one of the best hamburgers I have ever had the pleasure of eating.
I stumbled upon DMK Burger Bar sometime last summer when I took on the project of trying a new restaurant in Chicago every week. I had been hearing reviews about the place for weeks beforehand, but I was skeptical. Hamburgers are a tough cookie – people are very specific, and what one person may enjoy (a burger you can barely sink your teeth into), another person may despise. But please, don’t get me started on the ten feet tall, overwhelmingly large, still beautiful, but very messy burgers. I have never and will never understand them.
As I continued to read up on reviews about DMK, I kept hearing more and more things about the Parmesan Truffle Fries. I was instantly, obviously hooked and hauled my ass over to the restaurant the very next day. I was not at all disappointed, which is surprising, especially for a new, much-talked about restaurant in Chicago. The service was impeccable – friendly, helpful, insanely quick, and most important, consistent. Every single time I’ve gone back to DMK, the service is always great and it’s never taken more than, say, 12 minutes to bring out the food. Every time, I really am more surprised at how quick the food comes out, yet without a doubt, is incredibly delicious each time. The restaurant itself is bumpin’, especially on a Friday or Saturday night, which makes sense, considering they do not take reservations. The longest I’ve ever had to wait was a half-hour, only because my three friends and I, the most indecisive people you’ll ever meet when it comes to food, decided to show up to DMK at 7:30 on a Saturday night. But, we grabbed a beer and found a cozy spot in the corner to wait and catch up. No big.
Speaking of beers, the list is quite expansive. Over the bar area, they have what looks to be a giant chalkboard, where they list all the different type of draft, bottled and wells drinks possible, which takes up about 1/4 of the restaurant. If I’m not having the espresso milkshake, I’m usually having a beer. And thank god they’re not one of those places that charge you 12 plus dollars for a cocktail (thanks a million Dana Hotel Bar).
Now, hambooger time. Before I describe how these burgers must have dropped from the heavens, I need to gush over their prices. I have been to one too many restaurants where they will charge you 2-3 extra dollars for a fancy slice o’ brie, or “imported pickles.” Absolutely uncalled for. So, in my determination to save money, I end up spending my money on the skimpy burger and basically losing. Not at DMK – their selection of 14 burgers, ranging from grass-fed beef to salmon, to veggie, to etc, are ALL 8 DOLLARS. Well, put me in the oven because I am DONE. Sold, baby.
As my mouth is legitimately watering, I somehow have to convey to all of you how flipping delicious this burger is. Which is really hard to do, because I haven’t had lunch yet and my stomach is grumbling. So, I guess I’ll start with the bread. I don’t know how they do it, but they do it well. It’s slightly toasted, but still soft. As you take that first bite, the bun doesn’t overwhelm the meat, or bacon, or anything else. It’s perfect and I’m determined to find out how they do it next time I go in. Next, the onions. Slightly crispy and smokey. The BBQ sauce? Out of this world. I always order extra on the side for dunking, because I’m obviously 12 years old. The cheese? Yeah, I don’t even need to tell you. I’m lactose-intolerant, so I really shouldn’t be getting the cheese, but I do. So, that must tell you something. And, the meat. Lets just say grass-feeding does a burger good, seriously. I don’t even know what else to say.
These fries will literally kick any other fries ass in a fight.
Sweet and Salty. Just how I like about everything else. Try them. They will probably make you feel like you’re doing something healthy with your life, which is something I usually strive for on somewhat of a daily basis.
Espresso milkshake is a must. Espresso ice cream with ground chocolate covered espresso beans/chips. My god, stop it.
Since I’ve already written about 1,000 words, I think I’ll stop here. Just let me be clear. Go to DMK. If you’re from Chicago, and you haven’t been there yet, take me with you. If you’ve been and don’t like it, please don’t bring it up in conversation with me. Seriously, watch what will happen if you do.
*I desperately tried to find a clip from Top Chef: All Stars with Fabio when, trying to pronounce hamburger, he spewed out the word, “hambooger,” forever changing pop culture’s references for food. I couldn’t, and found this gem instead. The clip of Antonia, being the “Black Hammer.” She’s no hambooger, but I legitimately spit out my coffee from laughter when Dale says, “Slammed my ass.”