Another day, another burger. Another post on this blog, an observant reader might say, another contender for the best burger ever. But I do have to say, the latest contender is quite possibly the best I’ve had all year. That would be the char burger at Edzo’s Burger Shop in Evanston, Illinois. I went there last month when I was in town for work and stayed with Slim McDinner, Lobster Bisque and the Reading Corndog (Sous Chef was away on business) for a night. Slim had been talking up the Edzo’s burger for a while, so I was eager to get a chance to give it a try. Edzo’s was started by Eddie Lakin, a former fine dining chef, who decided to open a burger joint. But this is not just any burger joint. The all-American beef is never frozen and is freshly ground in house every morning. It’s served on a superb brioche bun. The fries are hand-cut and fried, not once, but twice. In short, Edzo’s is not messing around.
Slim had an appointment the afternoon he took me to Edzo’s, so we had to take our food out, but I watched as the cooks prepared the burgers and fries. The restaurant is decorated with vintage burger and hot dog shop signs and placards. Perhaps the coolest is the menu itself, which is displayed on one of those lit-up Coca-Cola-sponsored boards where moveable letters spelling out the offerings are arranged on the grooved surface. Despite these vintage touches, it’s a pretty unprententious place with a simple menu. In addition to burgers, the menu features hot dogs, shakes and a chicken sandwich or two. It’s obvious that burgers are the things to get.
Burgers are, of course, available with cheese (cheddar, American, Swiss, blue and pepperjack) and other toppings (jalapeños, giardinera, garlic butter, bacon, sauteed mushrooms, fried egg), but in my humble opinion, a truly great burger must be able to stand alone. The 1/2-lb. burger I brought back was dressed with only the basics. I added mustard and ketchup and dug in. The patty was charred so the surface was perfectly crusty and almost black, but inside the meat remained pink and tender. It was an ideal texture and flavor combination, and I only wished Empanada Boy were there to taste it with me. Needless to say, it stood up just fine without all the fancy trimmings.
Edzo’s makes fries in flavors like Buffalo, cheese and truffle. Slim and I ordered the garlic fries, which were delicious, flecked with glistening specs of minced garlic. It’s so much more pleasant to eat fries that taste like they’ve recently been part of a potato in the ground than to eat those shapeless, flavorless pre-formed and pre-frozen sticks that some other restaurants try to pass off as good.
As he usually is about matters culinary, Slim was right about the greatness of Edzo’s. It makes a truly glorious burger that won’t easily be surpassed in my record books. I might even go so far as to recommend that a burger devotee visiting Chicago take a little detour and head up to Evanston for lunch.
Edzo’s Burger Shop
1571 Sherman Ave.
Evanston, IL 60201