The Burgers of Chi
Ever had that hankering when you just need a big, juicy burger and nothing else? We all get it, even vegetarians, though they wouldn't admit it, get it. Lucky for the people of Archer Heights they have had Illinois Bar & Grill at the corner of 47th and Kedvale. Many people that are lifelong 50+ year old Chicagoans will tell you that the IBG is a real Chicago bar. In fact some of my oldest food memories come from IBG when my uncle would take us here when we were kids for their ginormous greasy burgers. Back then it seemed like these bad boys were the size of a medium pizza. I remember not being able to fit it in my mouth and so the bartender would cut the burger into pizza slices for the youngsters so we could eat the thing. If Illinois Bar & Grill sounds familiar to out of towners its probably because they also have a location at Midway airport and a recently closed down location on Taylor St. But if you want to get the real thing and experience the real atmosphere of where it all started then you need to visit the 47th St. location.
You can miss it in an instant
Illinois Bar & Grill is an old school southside bar with the same set of regulars who been going there for decades. The regulars will be seated at the bar controlling the remote watching whatever is on TV and there will be a bartender and a grill cook. Usually the place is pretty empty but never totally empty. There's always a few people be it solo or a group who are enjoying IBG greasy grub. Whats on the menu? I couldn't tell you except for the fries and half pound monster burgers I spoke of above. People go to IBG for one of two things: 1) to get piss drunk and 2) to get a burger. I imagine some people do both one and two. When you want a monster burger in Chicago its available over on 47th St. Its hard to eat a cheeseburger and fries if your solo and not a professional eater but I recommend getting an order of fries regardless. The fries pictured below easily serve 2-3 people and are some of the best fries alongside a burger your going to find. All the better that burger is legit.
fresh cut twice fried fries
Illinois Bar & Grill has some real old school character but the real reason people stop in for a glass of old style is the cheeseburger. Over there they been doing it the same way on the same greasy top since they opened. You'll get a half pound patty they throw on the greasetop cooked perfect with crispy edges, throw it on an oversized bun then load that with a bunch of grilled onions, two slices of cheese and the option for pickles and tomato. In the end you get a mega burger that would make Homer Simpson switch his regular hangout from Moe's to Illinois Bar & grill. Don't be afraid to use 7 or 8 napkins from the roll on the table next to the ketchup and mustard. They're there for a reason. I have never had a chance to try their breakfast but I could almost guarantee the sandwiches are good. One day I'll let you know if you don't find out before me.
Regular cheeseburger from Illinois Bar & Grill
Overall Grade: A-
Strengths: the best thing it has going for it is the price and size but without a juicy patty and the right condiments to accompany it I could care less about either. Instead IBG does it perfectly and I cant think of a better burger that's going to leave you stuffed no matter what. Like the rest of the good old school joints around the country they stick with what they've been doing since day 1 and that a big time burger. Extra points for the perfectly fried fresh cut fries and the load of grilled onions that takes the burger to the next level.
Weakness': There's really nothing not too like. the burger will get messy but what do you expect from an oversized giant? Unlike some stingy places these days they leave a whole roll of paper towels and as said above the price is right.
Illinois Bar & Grill on 47th*
4135 W 47th St
Chicago, IL 60632
*Also a location at Midway Airport