Bill’s Bar & Burger

Interior

Exterior

Ranch hand

**** (4 stars)

This place is a complete remodel of the Italian place that was here before. Although I miss that place, this is probably a better space for serving three meals a day for the attached hotel. It’s lighter and more open, and looks more like a diner.

There’s a large selection of various burger styles, but you can get pretty much anything you like on them. The patties are the smashed kind, so they’re all cooked all the way through. I had the Ranch Hand, basically a BBQ bacon cheeseburger, and it was very good.

The accompanying fries weren’t very exciting, but a side order of onion rings was nicely done.

Service was friendly. The kitchen was a bit slow, considering they weren’t busy, but we weren’t in a hurry.

Bill’s Bar & Burger
30 E Hubbard St
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 595-0446
https://www.yelp.com/biz/bills-bar-and-burger-chicago

Pour House Midway

Interior

BLT

*** (3 stars)

Well it’s an airport restaurant, so the bar is low.

As in the previous incarnation it’s basically a bar with food coming from the adjacent counter service restaurant.

Food is pretty good. I had the BLT and it was fresh and had very flavorful bacon.

Service is nice enough, but not what you’d call energized.

Surprisingly limited beer selections for a place called the Pour House.

Pour House Midway
5700 S Cicero Ave
Concourse A
Gate A5
Chicago, IL
(773) 948-6308
https://www.yelp.com/biz/pour-house-midway-chicago

Kuma’s Corner

Jalapeno poppers

Kuma burger with impossible burger patty

**** (4 stars)

I’m factoring in the fact that this was delivered by DoorDash, so naturally some things, like fries, don’t travel that well.

I’ve had the Impossible Burger–that vegetable substitute that is almost identical to meat–at several places, and always enjoyed it. This version was about as good as I’ve had. It’s important to order it well or medium well so that it gets a nice caramelized crust.

I didn’t actually order the prefab version of it from Kuma’s because I wanted bacon (call me a hypocrite) and real cheddar cheese. So I ordered the Kuma Burger and chose the Impossible Burger as my patty. This was an expensive way to do it, because the Impossible patty is a $7 upcharge, but I got what I wanted, and it was delicious, with all the fixin’s just the way I like ’em.

I also tried the Jalapeno Poppers. These were large, thoroughly cleaned of seeds (so not spicy at all) and stuffed with a flavorful cream cheese concoction, then deep fried in panko batter. They weren’t oily at all, and reheated in the oven beautifully. The accompanying spicy jam was wonderful.

I don’t know if I would order delivery again, just because of the fragility of the food, but if in the neighborhood I would definitely stop in to Kuma’s Corner.

Kuma’s Corner
852 W Fulton Market
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 666-9090
https://www.yelp.com/biz/kumas-corner-chicago-5

BIG & little’s Restaurant

Raw ahi tuna taco

Samurai taco

Cheeseburger

Deep fried grilled cheese

**** (4 stars)

In all fairness I ordered this food delivered, so I’m not going to comment on aspects that didn’t travel well (such as the fries), as I’m sure they’re much better at the restaurant.

What did travel well was the raw ahi tuna taco. The tuna was obviously excellent sushi grade, and the large chunks were still cold, and the fried taco shell crisp.

The other noteworthy item was the deep-fried grilled cheese sandwich. It was essentially fish and chips, except instead of fish there was a grilled cheese sandwich in there. The batter was nice and crisp, but I felt it needed a bit of seasoning, or perhaps the Swiss cheese version (rather than American cheese) is more flavorful.

The cheeseburger was a bit of a disappointment. It basically tasted exactly like a Big Mac.

I also sampled the Samurai fish taco, which was an okay combination of fried fish and pickled jalapenos on flour tortillas.

BIG & little’s Restaurant
860 N Orleans St
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 943-0000
https://www.yelp.com/biz/big-and-littles-restaurant-chicago-3

Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery

Interior

Exterior

Nachos (no beans)

Rib eye

Chili

**** (4 stars)

Based upon the name I was expecting sort of a dive bar, but it’s actually quite modern and nice inside. The menu offers a broad range of sports bar food, and I was pleasantly surprised by how good our selections were.

The nachos were actually better than any I’ve gotten in Chicago’s Mexican restaurants. They were spread out in a thin layer over a huge rectangular tray, so they stayed nice and crisp. We ordered them without the black beans, just our preference.

I had the ribeye, and it was a pretty darn good steak for much less than half what it would cost in any of River North’s steakhouses. About half of it needed to be trimmed away, but that’s what makes a ribeye so tender and juicy, and this one certainly was.

Service from our original server was a bit spotty, but the bartender and manager filled in nicely during her unexplained absences.

I was definitely favorably impressed, and will return.

Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery
One West Grand Ave
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 755-9339
https://www.yelp.com/biz/rock-bottom-restaurant-and-brewery-chicago

Tommy’s Original World Famous Hamburgers

Exterior

The grill

***** (5 stars)

There’s nothing quite like an authentic Tommy burger. There are imitators all over town, but none of them get it quite right.

There’s something about the flavor of the strange orange glop they call chili that can’t be duplicated. Frankly the stuff might be terrible by itself, but with the slab of tomato, diced onion, and handful of dill pickle slices, it all seems to go together.

Oh yeah, and there must be meat in there somewhere, although who knows what it tastes like.

The fries deserve a shout out, too. They’re not thick or thin, but just fat enough to have a nice crust and soft inside.

Oh, and don’t get that orange stuff on your hands. It never comes off.

Tommy’s Original World Famous Hamburgers
2575 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90057
(213) 389-9060
https://www.yelp.com/biz/tommys-original-world-famous-hamburgers-los-angeles-6

Burger Lounge

Shake

Exterior

Interior

Half and half fries, lounge burger

**** (4 stars)

I have fond memories of backyard type burgers being served at small grills from my youth, and the burger prepared at Burger Lounge is just like those. It has all the ingredients I regard is essential and a hamburger: a slice of tomato slice of onion and lettuce on the bottom that holds together.

I also tried a 50-50 mix of onion rings and fries. Although the fries were nothing special, the onion rings were perfectly crisp and delicious. I also had a root beer float, which was just like I used to make for myself.

As others have noted, for a counter serve place the service here is terrific. Several people checked on me outside while I was eating and brought me condiments on request. An excellent dining experience.

Burger Lounge
281 S Beverly Dr
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
(310) 385-0898
https://www.yelp.com/biz/burger-lounge-beverly-hills

SafeHouse Chicago

Exterior

Bar

Spy cams

Interior

Interior

Interior

Interior

Spy burger

Ahi tuna salad

Men’s room

Men’s room

Men’s room

***** (5 stars)

This is a really fun venue, definitely the best over-the-top themed restaurant I’ve been to. There’s lots to explore, including how to get in and how to get out. To avoid spoliers I’ll just say that the entrance is indeed the door at 60 E Ontario, and let you discover the rest for yourselves.

The food here is surprisingly good. We started with some pretzels, which I probably wouldn’t order again, since they weren’t cooked enough for my taste, but we liked everything else.

The grilled cheese sandwich was nicely browned and very generously stuffed, the spy burger was good, the fries were thin and crispy, and the ahi tuna salad was a good lighter choice, particularly if you like pea pods, as it was full of them.

Service was friendly, and the servers do a good job of staying in character without being overly serious about it.

Highly recommended for families or a fun night out. It was pleasantly navigable on a rainy Sunday afternoon. That’s important, because you’re going to want to explore the whole place. On the other hand, there might be magic at the bar at night…

SafeHouse Chicago
60 E Ontario St
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 313-1007
https://www.yelp.com/biz/safehouse-chicago-chicago

Public House

Pulled chicken salad

Smoked wings

Bar

*** (3 stars)

Public House is a cut above the average sports bar, with a more diverse menu that still includes all the basics. It has a good ambiance, and the background music is just the right volume.

The smoked wings were nice in that they weren’t breaded or particularly greasy, but they could have used more smoke flavor, and I’d have preferred a Buffalo sauce to the BBQ and white sauce they were served with.

The Pulled Chicken salad was an excellent mix of greens, apple, walnuts, dates,
avocado, fennel, cornbread croutons, goat cheese, honey-cilantro vinaigrette. Although they could have done a better job of separating the pulled chicken from the gristle, the combination of ingredients came through in a sum that was great than the individual parts.

Service (sitting at the bar) was fast and friendly.

Public House
400 N State St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 265-1240
https://www.yelp.com/biz/public-house-chicago

25 Degrees

**** (4 stars)

This is a burger joint with cloth napkins and cocktails. The interior is nice but can get quite loud, so try for a table on the sidewalk.

The burgers are huge, with two giant patties and all the fixings. I opted for a Number Six, because it is essentially my standard loaded burger. Everything was tasty, but the extremely juicy patties quickly overwhelmed the soft bun, and I ended up with two handfuls of mush. Tasty mush, but still…

There’s a nice assortment of drinks, plus spiked sodas and shakes.

Service was friendly.

25 Degrees
736 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 943-9700
http://www.yelp.com/biz/25-degrees-chicago