The Burgers of Chi
May is National Hamburger Month and to celebrate we're doing all burgers all month long here at S'C'&C. It's only fitting that the first place to be showcased is chibbqking favorite Edzo's in Evanston. Located downtown in the one suburb I could stand living in (at a young age) Edzo's came onto the scene in the fall of '09 and has never looked back. The burger and shake shop became an immediate favorite with everyone from everywhere and is now one of E-Town's best food gems. When people ask me where the spot to go for a burger is, I tell them Edzo's and this report will show you why. Edzo's is owned by Eddie Lakin who's also (or was) a professional chef. I only say 'was' because Edzo's isn't going anywhere. It's simply fantastic.
an instant classic in downtown Evanston
Eddie trained at The Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago and spent time at fine dining fancy's like Tru and also worked in kitchens overseas in Barcelona and Bologna. Anyone that works the kitchen in a fine dining establishment knows that it's non stop never ending days that can take up your entire time. As any smart man that likes to live life knows, that's not what you want. So when it was time to settle down as he started his family an idea came to mind. Much like me, Eddie is a food junkie, we love to hit up the locals favorite places wherever we are and so said Eddie "I'm going to start my own". When you grow up in Chicagoland you tend to eat at alot of Chicago style fast food places and we all have our favorites and they're usually the ones we grew up on. So he set out to recreate a place that is fun to go to and also great to eat at and the result is a grand slam. Walk off style baby, it's over! Edzo's has got the game on lock.
Edzo's has some of the best milkshakes anywhere
I mentioned how Eddie is a fellow food enthusiast and his idea for burgers was brilliant. When it comes to fast food, Chicagoland has it all, the best it gets, but we all know hot dogs and Italian beefs reign supreme. While theres so many great burgers to be had in the area, most of them are on the southside or in bars/restaurants. So Eddie decided to open his own place in the way of many great Chicagoland Hot Dog stands except the focus here is on the hamburger. He even documented the whole process and did all the right research. He settled on downtown Evanston which has clearly embraced him, his staff and their 'Gourmet' Chicago style fast food. Edzo's has been rewarded for their dedication with constant customers and I would go as far to say there arent but a handful of people who have only eaten there once. It's a winner for everyone.
The view of the inside from the back
Edzo's is a place where you can have your burger, your way and that's no BS unlike some other places who like to claim the same. Eddie used input from the local Chicago based online food community called LTH and checked out famous burger spots around the city and hit them up while on family vaca's in Wisconsin and other spots around the Midwest too. After receiving advice from burger nuts like myself and listening to what the people like he decided that their signature burger would be your choice. You see if I had to say Chicago had it's own style of burger I would tell you that burger is a big juicy char grilled (1/3 to a 1/2 pound) patty, tavern style, with the option of Merkt's cheese spread and grilled onions which are both a must. That burger is an option at Edzo's. Except there's also thinner '30's style' griddled burgers which start off as fresh balls of beef that are then smashed thin and cooked to crispy excellence. Eddie didn't leave everything behind from the fancy fine dining places he once worked at and they grind their own meat in house. It's excellent.
a view of part of the burger preparation station
Eddie took the best of both worlds when it comes to burgers. I love both styles as well as steamed and really anything that has good quality beef between a bun and I cant think of any other burger place around that has not one but two signature styles. Eddie didn't stop there though and also uses hand cut fries that come in a variety of options and they are all fantastic. One of the unique options available is 'old fries' which are the same fresh cut fries made in house except crispy as a cracklin'. Instead of being soft on the inside like the regular fries these are fried again leftovers that didn't get served after initial frying. You gotta love how instead of serving actual old cold fries to customers, he takes them and makes them even better by frying them again. You cant go wrong either way but if you like crunchy chip like french fries then try them this way. I always go with the giardineria or Merkt's cheese as a topping but aside from those two and of course plain they offer them buffalo style with sauce and blue cheese, garlic fries, truffle fries and ten ways total in the end. Shout out to my guy stevez from LTH who combined the old fries with hot peppers (giardineria) and created one of the cities best eats.
Cheese fries made with Merkt's cheddar spread, a Chi Town tradition
'Old Fries' with Chicago style hot peppers from Edzo's
My visits to Edzo's are always what Eddie was envisioning they be when he got the place started and that's fun. You can almost always expect a line but it's not like this isn't a good thing, you know all the legendary spots usually have a line but don't worry because it moves fast. Eddie and his staff treat the customers as if it's a fine dining experience making sure every last second of your visit is a pleasant one. You cant find this kind of hospitality combined with gourmet fast food at may other places and as if all that didn't make it amazing, the price is right too. As you enter you take your place in line and can grab a menu and take a look at the days special milkshakes menu while you wait. Edzo's offers up unique options like a Nutella blended beauty as well as one with cola and a few Mexican influenced winners as well. Tables are come and go but they really got a great flow here and one will pop up before your food is ready. You place your order with Eddie who seems to know everyone which proves what I was saying up above, once you go once, your guaranteed to go back. After your order you walk down to the burger station or wait at your table for your name to be called when ready. The action is at the grill. Check this video below.
Amazing how you can get burgers smashed or charred...and I luv it!
If you ask me which is the way to go at Edzo's, I'd simply say "I don't know" and that's because it's all good baby. When doing his research before opening up Eddie realized how much people love their burgers served the old school smashed way. It's how almost everyone did it back in the day but sadly has now almost gone away completely especially in Chicagoland. You take a fresh 4 oz ball of beef and throw it onto the griddle and let cook it for a few minutes and then take something heavy and flat like a spatula and smash the ball into a patty like that seen in the video above. The result is a simple taste that takes you to heaven. It's a damn shame so many places use shortcuts when it's not all that hard in the first place. You just gotta love what you do and that's the case at Edzo's. I always get my '30's style' smashed burger a double so the meat to bun ratio is perfect. I prefer mine with just pickles, mustard and grilled onions and while the flavor combo may be simple, it's simply succulent.
Double griddled cheeseburger from Edzo's
I think the 8 oz char grilled burgers there are as good of a char burger as your going to get anywhere. The meat is fresh ground and full of flavor and they cook it to your request. If you like pink in the middle like I do, you get it your way if you want that. Burgers arent meant to be too fancy and when they are they usually don't live up to their elegant looks. Edzo's offers the only toppings you need which is the usual assortment of veggies as well as different cheeses including cheddar spread and of course fried eggs and bacon. So you make your style of burger your way and when I'm doing a char burger I need Merkt's on mine. When you combine the char taste from the beef with the cheddar spread and grilled onions you get greatness and Edzo's char burgers are glorious. The only complicated part about eating at Edzo's is choosing what kind of burger your going to go with. Read on.
Edzo's char grilled cheddar burger
Is there anything more mouth watering than a patty melt when you need one? When I get the cravings for a melt I just need to get to one like a crackhead needs crack. I'm happy to say that I now know that Edzo's is the best hook up in town. That's because I finally tried one and I was ecstatic with it. They offer the option of either style patty but you gotta go with the 4 oz griddled one as this is the traditional way of making them. While some may claim a patty melt isn't a burger, I say boo hoo! It's a beef patty in between bread which is related to the bun. It's a burger damnit.
Edzo's All American Patty Melt...Perfection!
Just like the previous two burgers everything in a melt molds together to make something that tastes great. The combo of a griddled greasy burger with sauteed onions and melted cheese in between a couple slices of rye bread is something special. At Edzo's, as is the case with everything else simple yet special, they take the patty melt to another level. I'm getting hungry and cranky as I write this so I have no fancy words to describe this stunner except this is Patty perfection my friends. So if you love burgers as much as I do then let me tell you, Edzo's is where it's at. Check it out.
The insides of Edzo's perfect patty melt
Edzo's Burger Shop
1571 Sherman Ave
Evanston, IL 60201