Appearing first more than 120 years ago in Hamburg, Germany, the humble hamburger was made for an emerging middle class. Our love affair with the hamburger has grown ever since.
Locally owned restaurants continually tweak the formula. “For us it comes down to quality,” says Bob Kryscha of ZIN Gastropub in Lake Zurich. “We make our burgers from locally sourced grass fed and grass finished beef that is ground in house. We use a half pound of our beef which is made by combining chuck, rib and sirloin. This results in a burger that’s both juicy and delicious.”
The popular “Kick My Angus Burger” at Brunch Café in Kildeer starts with a flat-top grilled patty of Angus beef. Why Angus? It is a premium cut of beef with more marbling so the fat is evenly spread throughout the meat, producing a burger that’s both juicy and tender.
Leave it to the French to take the hamburger bun to another level. The pillowy wrap holding a burger together is great when it’s a brioche style of bread containing extra ingredients of eggs, milk and butter (ooh-la-la). Brioche ups the richness of the burger experience with more fat and protein.
A burger really comes together with toppings. Kookers in Lake Zurich serves lots of burgers with ketchup, mustard, lettuce, onion, tomato, choice of cheese and a pickle on the side for a classic taste.
In Lake Zurich a relative newcomer coming on fast is The Hungry Mule. According to co-owner Alex Villarreal they had strong carryout sales during the COVID-19 shutdown as folks looked for options. The popular “Cowboy Burger” starts with a whopping 10 ounces of Angus beef served with bacon, onion strings, cheddar cheese and a drizzle of BBQ sauce.
A different take on toppings is found at Farmhouse on North in Barrington. The menu stalwart “Farmhouse Burger" is a more elegant offering: a burger topped with creamy buffalo sauce, blue cheese, lettuce and tomato.