Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Five More Burgers (Part 2)

-Got beef?
The Burgers of Chi

I cant believe it's almost June. Thus National Hamburger Month aka May is rounding up. We've had some fantastic burgers from Chicagoland and those from the six different states featured in the 'Midwest Burger Crawl'. So to say goodbye to May we wave you off with one of our '5 More...' specials. Here are five different hamburgers from places previously featured here on S'C'&C with the King. Happy Hamburger Month. See y'all in June. You're going to want to stay tuned.
LinkMr. D's (Click for more)

If someone ever asked me my top spots for "Streets and Sans Mans" type eating Mr. D's would be one of the first mentioned. Unless you live in a meat (and shoes) free community in Arcata, California then this is the type of lunch spot you want in your neighborhood. The shish kebab and steak sandwiches, as anybody who's been there knows are at the top of the standings when it comes to top notch tasting bang for buck value. Someday sooner than later I'll try and score their beef with hot which some regulars swear by. In the meantime I'm here to tell you that their burgers are also near the top when it comes to Chi-Style fast food stands and their selections. Char grilled to perfection go with a double. The fries that accompany each order are some of the best around.

Double Charred Cheeseburger

Devil Dawgs (Click for more)

When Devil Dawgs first opened I was in there within a few weeks and enjoyed it now and then for a little while after that I didnt make it back for a minute. Not because I don't like the place. As I very much did/do but rather I just kind of forgot and when I did remember, I was able to convince myself to save the calories for future unposted places. No more self control after stopping in after a heavy drinking session at Local Option with Central Waters Brewery. I got a double one of their Kick Ass Green Chile cheeseburgers (new since my last visit) and I've had quite a few since. I think it's the best burger in the neighborhood. Devil Dawgs is a place anyone in Chicago would love to have amongst their locally owned "Chicago style fast food stand" options. I Know I do.

Burger Options

Green Chile Cheeseburger from Devil Dawgs

Odge's (Click for more)

Ahh yes when it comes to the looks of old school Chicago Style Hot Dog Stands, Odge's has that down. When passing by it on Damen it's as if theres a big old carnival going on in the collage with drawings of hot dogs and tacos and the inside is quirky with old lunch boxes and Threes Stooges memorabilia and the likes on display. It's a hot dog stand but as the sign outside on the building tells us, the burgers are handmade. Available as a singles or doubles I'd rec a double since it's only a $1 more ($5.75) and the patties are thin. Specially seasoned you can dress your Odge burger whatever way you like. I like everything plus grilled. Best not to miss out on their perfectly potent grilled onions. The fries are frozen but they fry them to a crisp, so that's a plus and they come with your burgers. Another great burger at a Chicago Hot Dog Stand.

Outside Odge's

Odge's Cheeseburger

Mr. J's (Click for more)

Mr. J's is one of my favorite places in the city for a grilled chicken sandwich. Located on Clark street just off Chicago it's a popular late-nite spot with everyone from the drunken fools to the Guardian Angel's and the bad guys they look out for. One time I steered away from my go to grilled chicken sandwich order and tried the burger they claim to be the home of, The Dagwood. It's basically your average double cheeseburger served with fries on the side and tastes better the later the night becomes and hungrier you get.

Mr. J's Dagwood Double Cheeseburger

Jury's (Click for more)

Last May during National Hamburger Month we took a trip into Lincoln Square over to Jury's. It's a place that has long been lauded as having one of the best burgers in Chicago, I've been there a few times thru life. I was back there last year and decided to switch it up a bit and order their 'judge burger' which is the standard 1/2 pound burger topped with cheddar cheese, bacon and sliced avocado. Next time and for now on it'll be this that I order. The avocado was as fresh of one I had ate in a while so that played a role in its goodness factor but I still think Jury's does indeed do a very satisfying bar burger.

Jury's 'Judge' Burger

Mr. D's Shish Kabob's
6656 W Diversey Ave
Chicago, IL 60707
(773) 637-0042

Devil Dawgs
2147 North Sheffield Ave
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 281-4300

730 North Damen Avenue
Chicago, IL 60622-5517
(312) 666-7335

Mister J's
822 N State St
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 943-4679

4337 North Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 935-2255

Monday, May 28, 2012


-Got beef?
The Burgers of Chi

The Skyark, if you've never been nor heard of it, when driving by you might wonder it is. Sitting in an old building on the corner of Halsted and Cermak this place is hipster heaven and a popular spot for the after 2am bar scene. Nonetheless its also a great place to go get a burger and some good micro beer from the draft right when they open around 4p. Nothing about it from the outside would give a clue to either of these things but 'tis true. Trust me.

A popular drinking spot in Pilsen (Photo by Avoision. com)

I had been into the Skylark a few times before I even tried their food. As I mentioned it's got a really nice beer list and it's no frills inside makes for the type of place that can compliment a beer so welll. Nothing fancy here, just a really nice old wood bar and some tables behind it for people to eat or chat at. They take it back to 1993 with a 'Demolition Man' pinball machine. I had known about the tater tots at the Skylark which if you didn't know are homemade. I actually wasn't aware there was such things as homemade tots until I found this out. Are they the real deal? Yes they are, they're crispy on the outside while creamy from within.

A view from inside

The burger I had heard good things from over on LTH amongst some other places. I gave it go when I read THIS post over there. A poster mentions that Skylark is his gold standard for good burgers and they do a taste off of it versus some other places around town. The burger comes cooked to request and topped with cole salw and a fried onion ring. Served on a very nice bun with their famous crispy tater tots I really liked their housenamed burger here. Everything seemed to go really well with other as far as the toppings go and the beef itself had flavor and came cooked to my medium rare request. Skylark is a great place in Chicago for brews and a burger, especially those that appreciate good beer and burgers made with care. Happy Hamburger Month Chicago.

Skylark Burger Basket

2149 South Halsted Street
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 948-5275

Skylark on Urbanspoon

Friday, May 25, 2012

Miller's Bar

-Got beef?
The Burgers of Michigan

Happy Hamburger Month...and down the stretch they come! Were rounding up our 8 state 'Midwest Burger March' today here in Michigan before we head back to Chicago for a few more tastes. Located just outside of Detroit, Dearborn Michigan was once the headquarters to Ford Motor Company and today it's one of the best places to eat and explore Arab-American food and culture. On a recent trip to Detroit I got to do all that and will report back ASAP. In the meantime we head to a place there that's been serving up their famous burgers since 1941.

a longtime Detroit-Metro area favorite

Miller's Bar is commonly mentioned in "Top-10 Best Burgers in the US" lists as well as the state of Michigan's best burger. The Don King like hyped "10 Best..." this and that lists are impossible to do with things like burgers, especially here in the USA where there's 1000's of worthy ones, but they can still be fun to read. I was impressed with the bar itself at Miller's which is representative of so many other "good old" places in the Detroit area. Classic old school. It's a bar but it's their burgers aka 'Ground Rounds' that people flock there for. They've been making them the same way since the beginning and that's by cooking the 8 ounce patties of fresh beef on the old school griddle behind the bar.

a view from the bar

Ladies working the griddle

All you have to tell the person taking your order is how you want your burger done and whether or not you want cheese on it. You want onions? You can ask for those with pickles if you please and they'll send you a nice sized fully sliced piece of raw onion. You like your onions on your burgers grilled? Too bad. The burger is no frills and its not about whats on it but rather the beef itself. I was very satisfied and pleased to taste the tradition that are the ground rounds at Miller's. It's an honor system so you pay at the bar when leaving. If your a fan of the classic places that seem to take you into a different era when you step inside, give Miller's a try. If your a fan of burgers, you need to see for yourself what many consider the best. Count me a fan.

Cheeseburger from Miller's Bar

Miller's Bar
23700 Michigan Ave
Dearborn, MI 48124
(313) 565-2577

Miller's Bar on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

XXX Family Restaurant

-Got beef?
The Burgers of Indiana

Welcome back to the 'Midwest Burger Bowl' Today were headed down into Indiana. "Cant stop, wont stop eating these hamburgers" is what I heard a student (presumably) from Purdue University say as he sat hungover eating hamburgers on the Sunday morning I stopped into Triple XXX Family Restaurant in West Lafayette, Indiana. It's the states first and thus oldest Drive In and they've been slanging their famous root beer and hamburgers aka chopped steaks since 1929. Open 24 Hours a day (Sun. til 10p) XXX has long been a favorite of many who went to Perdue or has driven thru West Lafayette and knew where to stop in at. This is the place to eat when you do as I did en route to Indianapolis this past winter.

a longtime Indiana favorite

The name and origin of XXX actually goes back to a brand of beer that Anheiser Busch started brewing in Galveston, TX back in the late 1800's/early 1900's. Each barrel was labeled 'XXX' and the beer died with prohibition which is when 'XXX' Soft Drinks were born. Their root beer and ginger ale were favorites and Triple XXX still uses the original recipe for their root beer that the Drive In was named after. I thought this was an excellent brew and I'm a big fan of homemade/micro brewed root beers. On my visit it wasn't just the college kids dining in but families and senior citizen couples as well as tourists so to say such as myself.

a peak inside the place

The menu includes breakfast options which come in handy during the wee hours but its all about the burgers or the 'prime cuts' as their called on the menu. They use fresh never frozen sirloin which is ground on site along with real cheese. Same way since day one and that's why people love it. They offer a few house favorites as far as burgers including the 'Duane Pervis All American'. They take a quarter pound of their house ground sirloin and top it with creamy peanut butter as well as the usual suspects. Not this time. I went classic on my first visit and got a double cheeseburger with pickles, mustard and onions. It was easy to taste why people have a connection to this place. This is what all burgers once were before the fast food and retail folks made them into pre-formed hockey pucks that turn into tasteless waste. XXX Family Restaurant continues to serve a real American burger. Since 1929 for a reason.

Double Cheeseburger w/ fries from Triple XXX Family Drive In

Triple XXX Family Restaurant
2 North Salisbury Street
West Lafayette, IN 47906
(765) 743-5373

Triple XXX Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 21, 2012

Zweig's Grill

-Got beef?
The Burgers of Wisconsin

Welcome back to the 'Midwest Burger Crawl'. Since the burgers of Wisconsin are something we do so well here, today we decided to stay in state and visit Zwieg's in Watertown. I grew up in the city but love visiting small town America. Especially in Wisconsin which seems to have so many of them all with a main street that includes an old theater, diner, tavern, ice cream spot, butcher/bakery, barber shop, Drug store, painted murals on the old buildings and so on. I've seen alot of these Main streets in the state and Watertown's is one of the best. It was pretty alive with cars and people walking along with all the regular things that a Main street in Wisco has.

Mullen's Dairy Bar is classic Americana

Well if you ever make it thru the area or are near here (not far from Johnson Creek Outlet Mall and right off I-94) I would recommend doing as follows. Mullen's Dairy Bar seen in the pic above is Located on Main street and its vintage Wisconsin. They make their own ice cream and have all the old school equipment a parlor should have. It reminded me of Mickie's Dairy Bar in Madison but instead of the food its known for its ice cream concoctions. I saw some great things on the menu including a sherbet drink made with phosphate water but had to go with a chocolate malt on my first visit. Boy am I glad I did and would highly recommend you do the same. Get it to go and then head down Main street towards Zwieg's.

Watertown, WI

I read about Zwieg's in Hamburger America and it's been on my radar since then. Just another old ass place serving the same burgers the same way just like back in the day. Gotta love it. It felt like half diner and half supper club inside of there. It's been around in this location for over half a century and its a nice site when rolling up on it down Main street. We parked the car and went in to place an order. The menu had the usual suspects on a diner for breakfast like omelets and American fries and bacon and eggs and some of the usual's on a Supper club menu like broasted chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy and a Friday fish fry. Pure Wisconsin.

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Article about switching the grill after 50+ years...I love the clock

We were there for the double cheeseburgers (which I've come to taste are best in Wisconsin) with fried onions, pickles and mustard. We also got an order of fries which were frozen crinkle cut and thus 'eh. As like everywhere else the service was charming and the burger expertly prepared. Meat patties were preformed but were fresh and the taste of this one was right up there with the rest in the Jefferson county area, one of the best hot spots in a state with so many. Paired with that malt from Mullen's its one helluva lunch. Happy Hamburger Month.

Double Cheeseburger from Zwieg's

Zwieg's Grill
904 E Main St
Watertown, WI 53094
(920) 261-1922

Zwieg's Grill on Urbanspoon

Friday, May 18, 2012


-Got beef?
The Burgers of Wisconsin

Happy Hamburger Month. Regular readers know 'The Burgers of Wisconsin' are a specialty of S'C'&C and today we continue the journey as we eat the burgers of the Midwest. We head into Marinette which is about 250 miles north of Chicago, straight up the lake. Located just across the bridge from Menominee Michigan this beautiful little summertime playground is also the home to one of the best burger experiences in the country. Let's check it out.

a longtime locals favorite in Marinette, WI

I took my first ever visit to Mickey-Lu-Bar-B-Q around this time last year. It was on my radar when I did the Lake Michigan Circle Tour but they were closed for a quick two day repair the day we drove by. It's been on my must get to list ever since driving by and seeing the classic building it sits in. Let me first address the question many others are asking themselves as they read this. So they serve BBQ too? Nope. It's a little different all the way up there. Like many other uninformed Northern folk, they assume BBQ is grilling when the two of them are actually different. Nonetheless the reason they call this famous sandwich place 'Bar-B-Q' is because they use the popular regional style of real charcoal grilling, notice the chimney in the picture above. As soon as your near the place you can smell the goodness. So it is authentic grilling.

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Signs hanging on the walls (top) View from the sandwich bar stools and a pic of a full house (bottom)

Mickey Lu's is an institution with a loyal following, generations of families have eaten there and swear by their burgers. Approaching their 70th year in business it takes you back to another time when rolling up on it and seeing the big 'EAT' sign and neon Bar-B-Q lighting up the night. Then when you step inside it gets an even more authentic feeling with the old time decor. Then when seeing a big flaming real charcoal grill with grillmaster Chuck Finnessy working the wild flames, it makes you realize it's the truth. It's an experience you have to see/taste for yourself but just in case you cant ever make it or are wondering what I'm talking about, here is some video from my 1st visit on this trip. I went there three times the night I stayed in Marinette.

The Flaming (real) Charcoal Grill

When I was able to get this shot on my 1st visit the place was packed, nowhere to sit and hardly any room to stand. It's a daily thing, I was told it actually gets like that a couple times a day. With only so much space on the grill it can take up to 30 minutes for an order to be ready but people didn't care and were willing to wait. They're open 'til 11:30p so I was also able to stop in later that night and they had the local HS baseball team in there celebrating a playoff win. Just like back in the day, Mickey's Lu's is the place to go hang out and chat it up with friends and folks from around town.

The Menu with your options

It's all about the burgers here but since we were in Wisconsin, I had to try a brat too on my first visit. Not worth it as it was a small brat in a large hot dog bun and there are much better to be had. Besides that, the only folks not ordering burgers by the 2's, 3's and beyond were a few of the little kids who got hot dogs and shakes.

Bratwurst from Mickey Lu's

They have the grill down to a science and get the burgers out as quick as they can but again theres only so much space. Luckily the burgers are thin so they cook quick. The patties are ground fresh and delivered daily. Doubles are available but the preferred choice around town seems to be downing a few singles on each visit. I preferred doubles since the meat to bun ratio is more even. Just like past places featured along Lake Michigan, they use Hard Rolls which are toasted to the max on the grill for a minute or two while the flames lay low. Once ready they're double wrapped and brought to you wherever your sitting.

Cheeseburger from Mickey-Lu Bar-B-Q

The burgers come served with catsup, onions, pickles and plenty of butter (brown mustard on request). They take on a great charcoal flavor making it one of the most unique tasting burgers I've had. It shames me to say this but I ordered one of them with catsup and everything else and I thought it worked well with the burger. The buns are crunchy on the outside and the sweetness from the catsup goes well with the kiss of charcoal. I really enjoyed these, so much so that we got double cheeseburgers for breakfast on the way out of town. I asked for them with a fried egg but they wouldn't put it on the burger and at first I didn't understand why but then it all made sense. The egg is on the menu as a sandwich and they don't mess with tradition by putting them on their burgers. You gotta love it. We added the fried eggs by hand and I must say, it became even better.

Double cheeseburger with a fried egg added on by hand

Yet another great burger in a great eating state. Mickey-Lu's first shot onto my radar while doing research on food stops around Lake Michigan while on the Circle Tour. This Guy's analysis is what got me wanting to stop in one day soon. Well it too ka couple years but was well worth the wait. You can check another one off the board and now I understand why...

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...when you need a Mickey Lu, nothing else will do.

1710 Marinette Ave
Marinette, WI 54143
(715) 735-7721

Mickey-Lu-Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Nook

-Got beef?
The Burgers of Minnesota

The chibbqking 'Burger March thru the Midwest' moves on up into Minnesota. One summer back, I forget exactly when, it's been a long ride with alot of trips here huh? We took a ride up the Great River Road while en route to Bayfield, WI. The end of the Mississippi River is in Prescott, WI and that wasn't too far from the Twin Cities so we headed thru for a dinner stop before driving North to Duluth and riding the North Shore Scenic Drive. We decided to check out a locals favorite bar, The Nook, to have our first Juicy Lucy experience in the Twin Cities area.

Considered St. Paul's best place for a Juicy Lucy

This place is one of the many spots I've hit up over the years that's been featured on Diners, Drive In's and Dives and it was a cool little bar that had a big burger menu with a variety of types. I'll give the show that, they go to great places 9 times out of 10. We were there for a specific burger, the Juicy Lucy which they call Juicy Nookie's on the menu. Its one burger patty topped with a slab of cheese and then covered by another patty making the cheese inside rather than on top. They are very popular in Minneapolis/St. Paul and The Nook is said to have one of the best.

Juicy Nookie aka Juicy Lucy

The burger was fantastic as were the fresh cut fries that accompanied it. The kitchen space was tight and the place was packed with a wait around 6p and from my seat at the bar I could see the staff slaving away over burgers and putting potatoes thru the metal fry making machines seen at many Chicago hot dog stands. This is a great place to have in your vicinity.

The view inside

I've had alot of great burgers across America, 100's and 100's and this was definitely one of them I remember. Even though I've only had one Juicy Lucy from the Twin Cities I'd be willing to bet this is one of the better versions around because it was fantastic. The best part was the first bite and the cheese oozing out onto my fries turning them into cheese fries. I've recreated these at home and been pretty successful in doing so but theres also just something about being in the city that made them their signature eat and eating one.

The insides

Casper's and Runyon's Nook
492 Hamline Ave South
St Paul, MN 55116
(651) 698-4347

Casper & Runyon's Nook on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 14, 2012

Paul's Tavern

-Got beef?
The Burgers of Iowa

We continue on with hamburger Month as we head North up the river into Iowa. I was once just outside Paul's Big Game Tavern to take a picture of what I thought looked like a cool Midwest tavern. It was on a trip back from South Dakota where we were exploring the Iowa portion of the Great River Road. You can see an old picture of the place in that post. If I remember correctly it was earlier in the morning when I took that picture but I'm not sure. Either way I had wanted to stop into Paul's since a guy from Dubuque whom I randomly met at Toons told me I had to.

Dubuque, IA

We were just talking and somehow the conversation got into Dubuque then over into food and Paul's was then mentioned. Little did I know then that I was almost there once. I didn't miss out the second time around. We stopped into Paul's on an early weekday around 6p and its a good thing I'm not claustrophobic nor a sufferer of Taxidermy Phobia. Which I guess is a real thing many people have. This is because Paul's is pretty narrow and as you enter your going to see what it said outside you would. Paul's hunting "trophies" hang on the walls, both the left and right side. Stuffed bears and other animals to your left above the people eating in the tiny booths and stuffed mountain goats and other creatures displayed above the bar.

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The Views Inside

Paul's is your stereotypical Midwest Mississippi river-town tavern. It's been around since 1948 so this is where the locals go. Not much has changed except the fact theres now government restrictions and regulations to shooting animals such as polar bears. All of the trophies are from the 50's into the early 70's. Paul isn't around anymore but still stops by over the summer when not hibernating at his winter place in Texas. The guy who took the bar over used to bartend there and when the regulars told him they didn't want nothing changed, he listened. Paul's has always been popular for their cold beer and burgers which are still made the same way today as when they first set up shop.

Bartender making our burgers in the Broilator

Paul's uses a "Broilator" which used to be manufactured by the now defunct Norge Company. From "This gas fired countertop broiler contains a very well seasoned cast iron griddle. The cook places burgers on this plate and pulls a lever that positions the plate between top and bottom flames. The meat is cooked at a high temperature and does not have to be flipped. The Broilator has been cooking over 100 hamburgers a day for over 62 years! The griddle only holds 8 burgers so when the bar is busy you have to wait your turn." The bartender told me the thing itself was from the 1930's and on weekends when it gets busy theres two people behind the bar. One serving drinks and one making burgers.

Cheeseburger from Paul's Tavern

The burger was what it was. I don't say that to mean it sucked but it wasn't the best ever. Still it was some nice fresh locally butchered beef, albeit lean, in a bun and went real well with the ice cold bottles of High Lifes and conversation with the regulars. The price has changed going up from 25 cents back in 1948 up to $2.45 today. Nowadays they also do sloppy joe's during lunch hours on weekdays and macaroni and potato salad too. The mac was pretty fantastic. After that we took a short 2 minute ride over to Fourth Street.

The Fourth Street Elevator in Dubuque

Also known as 'The Fenelon Place Elevator' I never knew about this classic cliff railway cart they have here. It's listed in the National Register of Historic Places and so they claim it's the shortest/steepest railroad in the world. I'll tell you this much, it's well worth the $2 roundtrip ticket to take a ride up. If you do take the ride, take note now that they don't accept debit or credit cards which I didn't see mentioned at the bottom but was the first thing you saw at the top. I had cash but don't forget, it's a little bit of a walk around and then down :wink:

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Don't forget...

The Ride Up

I felt like a kid again getting into the car and then ringing the bell to tell the lady up top we were ready to ride. She had to remind me over the intercom that I had sit down before she could bring us up. The ride up was a little more scarier and had me the slightest bit of nervous. I guess it's open year round but man would it be scary if icy and cold during the winter. There's some beautiful homes in the neighborhood it takes you up into, as well as some great views of Dubuque and the Mighty Mississippi from the observation deck.

Looking down from the top

Overlooking Dubuque

Paul's Tavern
176 Locust Street
Dubuque, IA 52001
(563) 556-9944

Paul's Tavern on Urbanspoon

The Fenelon Place Elevator
512 Fenelon Place
Dubuque, IA 52001
(563) 582-6496


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