The hamburger is an American staple and can be enjoyed at restaurants around the world. Many chefs have tried to master the ultimate burger but Au Cheval has the battle for best burger under wraps.

Chicago is a city known for exceptional cuisine and although Au Cheval has only been around since 2012, it has more than earned its reputation. Patrons will stand in line for hours just to taste what Bon Appetit and The Food Network call “America’s best burger”. The lines may be long but we promise, it’s worth the wait. Locals, tourists, foodies, and celebrities all agree that if you’re going to eat a burger in Chicago, this is the place to go.

The restaurant is set up like a diner with long countertops and an open kitchen concept, making guests feel right at home. The menu serves up classics—but with their own twist. Patron’s favorites include Au Cheval’s crispy potato hash with duck heart gravy, scrambled eggs with foie gras, and of course, the burger.

Photo Credit: Facebook/Au Cheval

The famed Au Cheval burger is simple: it’s the combination of and attention to detail with ingredients that make it so great. Each and every ingredient adds another layer of flavor, building it up to masterpiece status.

The patty is made with prime beef and is grilled to a perfect medium rare (don’t you dare ask for yours to be “well done”!). After the meat is sizzling hot, a layer of American cheese is melted between each patty. The cheesy burger is then placed onto a gently toasted bun, delivered fresh from Z Bakery and then toasted under the salamander-like broiler, on both sides.

Once you’ve got the basics covered, you can order your burger naked or dressed. If you opt for the “dressed” route, expect a final product that’s smothered in dijonnaise: a dangerously delicious sauce made of lemon juice, mayo, and dijon mustard.

If you are feeling fancy, you can even add on a fried egg (au cheval translates in French to “on horseback”, or in this case, refers to “a fried egg on top”), some thick-cut bacon, or three ounces of silky foie gras. You’ll also have the choice between a single (two patties) or a double (three patties). The burger sits high on its white throne, next to a crisp pickle. If you still have room left, give one of their thick, creamy floats a whirl.

Located at 800 W Randolph St., if the line doesn’t catch your eye, the smell certainly will. So, next time you find yourself in the windy city, add Au Cheval to your list of restaurants to visit.

May 8, 2018

Chicago Serves Up Winners at James Beard Awards

May 8, 2018

Chicago Serves Up Winners at James Beard Awards

For those who know the Chicago culinary scene, it is no surprise to see restaurants, bars, and professionals in the food and beverage world named among the best in America by the James Beard Foundation. Known as the Oscars of the food world, the James Beard Awards are among the highest honors for those in the food and beverage industry in the U.S., from chefs to food journalists.

The Windy City had no issues blowing the competition out of the water in the “Best Chef: Great Lakes” category with 13 out of 20 individuals named showcasing their work in Chicago. However, the city’s dominance extended far beyond regional success.

Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz, of Boka Restaurant Group, made the list of “Best Restaurateurs”.

Michelin-starred Boka was the groups’ first restaurant, opening in 2013. Today, it is one of 19 individually crafted, conceptually unique entities under the group’s umbrella. Also in its impressive portfolio, you’ll find Girl & the Goat (one of the most difficult places to get a reservation in the country—but worth the effort) and GT Fish & Oyster.

Chicago’s culinary scene also saw a couple rising stars make the list of “Best New Restaurants”. Chef Diana Davila brings to life a whirlwind mixture of regional Mexican specialties, Mexican fusion, and established favorites at Mi Tocaya Antojeria. Last year, Eater named Mi Tocaya Antojeria as “the new star of Chicago’s Mexican scene”—and it seems that those handing out awards at the James Beard Foundation were keen to agree.

Also on the list of best new restaurants in the nation was Lost Lake, which plates up a “tropical oasis-meets-flotsam strewn island hut” vibe.

However, it was North Pond, headed by Chef Bruce Sherman, that stepped up to make the list of “Outstanding Restaurants” in this year’s awards. In the middle of Lincoln Park, the restaurant serves dishes inspired by ingredients found in local markets at the height of their season, creating complex, subtle layers of flavor.

Though Chef Sherman’s restaurant might have garnered a prestigious JBA accolade, Chef Tony Mantuano, of Spiaggia, and Chef Carrie Nahabedian, of NAHA, made it on the “Outstanding Chef” list.

Operating Chicago’s only four-star Italian restaurant, Chef Mantuano is no stranger to the receiving a JBA, having secured “Best Chef: Midwest” in 2005. Prior to opening Spiaggia in 1984, Chef Mantuano worked in several Michelin-starred restaurants in Italy. Clearly, there really was no surprise to see him among those honored with a JBA this year.

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There are essentially two pizzas in America: New York and Chicago deep dish. Though the pizza war will continue to rage as long as these two great cities remain, there’s never a doubt who’s king of the deep dish in the Windy City — Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria.

According to the Food Network, the buttery, crisp dough and rich tomato sauce are what gave Lou’s son Marc Malnati the edge over Bobby Flay on Throwdown in a deep-dish pizza competition. This fact alone, not to mention that family-owned and run pizzeria is the oldest name in Chicago pan pizza, justifies them selling more than a million deep-dish pies a year. The pizzeria has also been featured on The Steve Harvey Show, Food Wars, and Pizza Wars.

Lou Malnati's Famous Deep Dish

This is, in fact, the pizzeria that defended Chicago against the verbose and misguided attacks of renowned New Yorker and comedian Jon Stewart on The Daily Show. Unfortunately, Stewart appears incapable of understanding the magnificence of good deep-dish pizza.

On March 17th, 1971, Lou Malnati and his wife Jean, opened their first namesake Italian pizzeria in a Jewish neighborhood in Lincolnwood, IL. The opening party was crashed when a car came flying into the dining room during the Irish holiday. Of course, when you’re producing pies as good as the Malnati’s, a little car crash isn’t going to stop business from booming.

Lou Malnati's Deep Dish Pizza Chicago

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August 15, 2017

Chicago Restaurants We Love: Juno

August 15, 2017

Chicago Restaurants We Love: Juno

Juno is Chef B.K. Park’s answer to Chicago’s need for a contemporary sushi restaurant. Nestled in Lincoln Park, Juno is popular for its amazing sushi, sophisticated ambience and top-notch service.

After closing for 8 months in 2014 due to a fire that destroyed most of the restaurant, Juno continues to reinvent itself and its dishes. The renovated bar space located at the front of the restaurant features warmer tones and Japanese-inspired lighting fixtures. The bar serves small dishes and drinks like beer, wine and sake, which is considered Japan’s national drink and is the base for most of their cocktails.

When you walk by the restaurant, you might often see a near-empty bar, but don’t be deterred. At the back is a minimalist formal dining room which is often packed with eager diners waiting to see what Chef B.K. (formerly of Arami) has to offer.

While the restaurant serves its share of sliced sashimi and maki, the side of raw fish is elevated by Chef B.K.’s remarkable skill and creative flair. For instance, the Special Smoked Hamachi is something that has never been seen before. The nigiris, which come with some shiitake and sweet corn, are smoked right in front of you. Other must-try nigiris are Juno’s signature King Nigiri (spicy king crab and tuna with crunchy potato toppings) and Queen Nigiri (spicy scallop and salmon with crunchy potato toppings).

(Photo Credit: Juno Restaurant)

For hot dishes, most patrons recommend the Confit Chicken Wings, which are more like bite-sized pieces of chicken with sweet pepper marmalade, kohlrabi and togarashi.

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