It's a tough job but someone has to do it. As I embark on a new mission to add 50 burger joints to my book I'm listening to all of the suggestions I have received since the book came out. If the burger spot meets the criteria (a fresh-ground burger on menu for over 20 years for starters) I'm off and running. I love this part of the process.
Charlie Beinlich's in Northbrook, IL, just a short 25 minute drive from the Chicago loop, had been suggested to me by over 5 different friends and family in the Chicago area after the book came out. Fortunately, it fit all of the criteria nicely. Expert local burger taster Jay and his wife Alexis joined me on the trip north, skipping their usual lunch at Hot Doug's for a burger they had not tasted yet.
The burger is great and the place even better. It has the feel of a dark, mens hunting and fishing lodge complete with stuffed fish mounted in well-lit display cases. The burgers are cooked on a flattop griddle and served on white squishy buns by waiters in uniform aprons. The service was snappy and we were fed and out the door inside of 20 minutes. The turnover is quick and that's a good thing because by 11:45am, only 15 minutes after opening, the place was packed. Again, I'll save the details for the book, but do need to mention the curious sign just above the 'No Credit Cards' sign by the front door (see below). Jay pointed out, "What if you came in with muddy boots and a tank top?" My guess, you'd be banned for life.