Hey, does this look good to you?
Of course it does! What a way to keep the celebration of National Burger Month going strong! Get ready for some burger GREATNESS!
Welcome To Chicago – Where They LOVE Their Meat!
Chicago is a beautiful city – and a great food town!
There is no doubt that Chicago loves meat – there are scores of great steakhouses – everything from Gibson’s to Chicago Cut – with a dozen more lining up right next door…but Chicago also loves their burgers, and there is a heated debate on what is Chicago’s best burger joint….
Behold The Kuma Burger!
The original Kuma’s started in 2005 with its flagship location at the corner of Belmont and Francisco avenues in Chicago’s Avondale neighborhood. Now, they’ve expanded. After three stops at Kuma’s Too, I am ready to say that this offshoot of the legendary Kuma’s in Chicago is making a strong run for Chicago’s best burger! Let’s look at the evidence:
“Kuma’s Too” opened early in 2013 in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago. The look is very straightforward from the outside – and on a sunny day, they open up the windows and let the sun shine in…
On my first visit, I sat at the bar – where rules state that anyone eating food gets seating preference over drinkers – who they point out can drink standing up, but you need a seat for one of these burgers….more on the Kuma rules as we go along…
I ordered the Kuma Burger my first time in, the first burger on the list and their signature burger – medium rare of course…and here is what I got:
It’s basically a bacon cheeseburger with a fried egg on top…delicious but straightforward in a way – a great burger, but not worthy of the title of Chicago’s best…it was perfectly cooked and tasted great, but I sensed that I would need to go deeper into the menu to really test the kitchen:
That said – look at how beautiful this burger is….still, I needed to come back and try something more “inventive”…and in keeping with the POV of the restaurant, more heavy metal…
The “Led Zeppelin”!
Yes, Kuma’s Too is a big fan of classic hard rock and metal – you will find lots of 80’s metal band posters like this one on the walls…
The “rules” posted by the bar state that they love heavy metal music, so let them decide what to play – they don’t take requests! On my second trip in, I decided to try something a bit more challenging, still sitting at the bar…I needed to order a burger that was clearly influenced by their musical taste:
Because I love the band, I tried the “Led Zeppelin”:
Behold The Great Zeppelin!
OK, now THIS is a burger! The same 10-oz. beef patty as before, but this time topped with pulled pork! Fried Pickles! Cheese! BACON!
It was everything you could want and more: it was beautifully cooked and juicy – to the point it dribbled down my arm – and it had a terrific mix of flavor…as you can see from the picture – this burger came LOADED!
Delicious, crunchy french fries come with every burger – but you can substitute for a salad as well…the ONLY substitutions they allow: as the rules state – their job is to make the food, your job is to eat it – so don’t ask to change how they cook it!
This burger came loaded with flavor – and the flavors were distinct: you could taste the grilled hamburger AND the slightly sweet pulled pork…a beautiful blend…
This was a masterpiece – the crunchy fried pickles were great, the thick chewy bacon was smoky – and of course, the smoothness of the pulled pork – a perfect blend of flavors…Kuma’s was rocking now!
Now Comes The Multiple-Choice Test!
I still wanted to try more! Lucky for me, Kareen and her husband Chris were willing to join me and Alex for one last test of Kuma’s…here is the happy trio just before we headed in…
This time, we sat at a table…after a 45-minute wait outside…which is normal for this place – but they are very friendly and efficient at the door – their popularity just mean they are always packed!
On this last trip I got a chance to really peruse the menu – which is loaded with burger options, plus sandwiches, mac-n-cheese you make yourself form a list of ingredients, and more! They post their menu on their website so you can see all of the great options there…
As noted before, the music is played loud and the walls are adorned with heavy metal memorabilia…
We sat Chris down by the Judas Priest poster and made our choices: for Kareen, it was a
“Black Sabbath” burger! This simple delight had a 10 oz. patty that was seasoned with a blackening spice, plus chili, pepper jack cheese, and fresh red onion!
Alex went with: The Absu!
“The Absu” is a 10 oz. beef patty smothered in tomatillo salsa, pepperjack cheese, red onion avocado relish, queso fresco, and topped with a trio of breaded deep fried chiles!
Alex said that the creaminess of the queso fresco was a perfect foil for the fried chiles, giving a hot and smooth taste simultaneously…
Every month, Kuma’s has a different “special” burger, and this month it was
“The COUGH” is 10 oz. of beef topped with fried pickles, swiss cheese, roasted pork, cherry pepper relish and slathered with “Dusseldorf” mustard!
I had to try this special, especially since the mustard was a unique addition that I wanted to try…
I sometimes worry that restaurants overload their burgers with TOO MUCH good stuff, so that it becomes a chore to get through it – and the flavors are no clearly defined…but there was no such problem here!
These flavors worked perfectly with each other – thick, smoky bacon and crisp pickles, plus full-flavored swiss cheese….and the mustard was strong, bold and it gave the burger a unique taste – delicious!
There a dozen different burgers you can try, but for Chris, it was nothing but the BIGGEST that Kuma’s Too had to offer!
As our server came to the table, we all had to stop and take a deep breath – because Chris ordered:
OK, now that you’ve gotten your breath back, behold this massive plate of greatness! “The Slayer” doesn’t even have a bun!
What you get is a massive plate that begins with a bottom pile of fries – topped with a 10 oz. burger, chili, cherry peppers, andouille, onions, jack cheese, and – as the menu says – ANGER!
OK, without a doubt this is one of the most unique burger dishes I have ever seen…here is what it looks like when you dig into it – you can now see the burger patty, which was smothered when it arrived at the table:
Needless to say, Chris and Kareen took half of it home for dinner – which isn’t a bad way to end a burger day!
“Kuma’s Too” lived up to everyone’s expectations: we each had a uniquely different experience, and the entire meal was prepared perfect…they really know how to deliver great food – and they are really pushing hard to be “Chicago’s Best Burger”!
We Know Chris Liked It!
Chris gave it a big thumbs up – even though he couldn’t come close to finishing it! I have to get back there for the mac’n’cheese soon – and to try a few of the other burgers – and maybe have another go at “The Slayer!”
Badhappy Burgers Rule Too!
Here is the link to my previous “Chicago’s Best Burger?” post, highlighting the amazing food being served by our friends at Badhappy Poutine:
Let the burger battle begin!