Our latest quest to find the best burger in Chicago landed us in the West Loop at a new diner that has been generating a lot of buzz in an area full of buzz-generating restaurants. Au Cheval opened last year replacing Downtown Gyros at the corner of Randolph St and Halsted St. Before opening, they revamped the location into a modern trendy spin on a classic diner. When entering, you’ll notice the dim lighting, vibrant crowd, loud music, and a classic kitchen with a bar counter you’d imagine in an old-school style diner.
At Au Cheval, it wasn't hard to decide what we wanted as there is only one cheeseburger (and a “double cheeseburger”) on the menu. Thus, it came down to a few options, so we had a little variety between our orders. We ordered medium-rare, and added both of the added options, fried egg and thick cut pepper bacon. We also tried a hamburger and a cheeseburger without the egg and bacon.
To our surprise, the burgers weren't just single patties, but double! Turns out the double is really a triple, which would be a challenge we might just accept on our next visit. The presentation of the burger was salivating as the gooey cheese melted over the edges of the patty enough to where you’d think the patty was dipped in cheese. The added bacon was almost as thick as the patty, while the egg on the other bun covered the Dijon mayonnaise and large cucumber style pickles. After first bite, we all felt like we were in burger heaven. There was no doubt in our minds that we were all comparing this to the best of the best. After setting the burger down, we realized that these thin patties were all cooked perfectly to a medium-rare which is a hard feat with the thinner patties. The patty was juicy and full of flavor, the egg and bacon was added flavor, but it wasn't needed to make this burger a top contender. The brioche bun stood up to the task and lasted the whole meal.
The burger from Au Cheval is one of Chicago’s top burgers without a doubt, and could contend nationally as well (but that’s for another discussion). While the fried egg and bacon is a nice extra, it isn't mandatory unless that’s your thing. The highlight of the burger was probably the American cheese that smothers the burger. Not only does Au Cheval offer a delicious burger, but the upscale diner is great environment for a night out with friends or a casual date, but arrive early or be prepared to wait. On a side note, the fries served with mornay sauce, garlic aioli, and fried egg are noteworthy and worth a try. Believe the hype.
Cheeseburger ($5.95) – Two beef patties topped with Dijon mayonnaises, pickles, onion, fried egg, and thick cut bacon.