Au Cheval's Cheeseburger
A Note from Mugsy Jeans - We have a special guest post for you today by Lizzy Freier! Lizzy is a Menu Analysis Editor based in Chicago. This fancy pants title basically means that she tracks restaurant trends in her professional life, and she happens to love eating in her personal life too. In other words, Lizzy knows food. Below she tells us about the best places to eat meat in Chicago. Lizzy also insisted on noting that she prefers her men in Mugsy Jeans. Enjoy!
Enter Lizzy Freier...
“I call this turf ‘n’ turf. It’s a 16-ounce T-bone and a 24-ounce Porterhouse. Also, whiskey and a cigar. I am going to consume all of this at the same time because I am a free American.” -Ron Swanson
Like Ron, I too believe the more meat the merrier. Meat options in Chicago are boundless, and I’ve tracked down some of the best options for the next time you’re feeling protein-deficient. Be sure to grab a size-up pair of Mugsy Jeans after you’re done.
Au Cheval’s Single Cheeseburger (West Loop) $10.95 (depicted above)
You can’t have a list about Chicago’s best meat options without talking about Au Cheval’s Single Cheeseburger. Don’t fear the food failing to live up to the hype—this is the exception. The single burger actually features two prime beef patties seared on the grill and topped with cheddar, Dijonnaise and housemade pickles. The beef is juicy but doesn’t fall apart, the toppings add the perfect nuances of flavor and the bun holds it all together. It is filling and meat-centric yet simple. Top it off with an over-easy egg or thick-cut bacon for extra decadence. This takes mouth-watering to another level.
Bird’s Nest’s Honey BBQ Wings (Lincoln Park) $8 for 10
Before this past year, I never really craved chicken. But restaurants are starting to turn out some über craveworthy chicken dishes in both roasted and fried versions and everything in between. For chicken, my go-to has always been wings, and Bird’s Nest delivers. Not necessarily where you might go to find the best wings in town, Bird’s Nest does its wings right—moist and sticky. They Honey BBQ flavor is my favorite but if you want to go spicy, try their specialty proprietary Hot Sauce. The best part: wings are just 45 cents on Sundays and Thursdays.
The Publican’s Publican Bacon (West Loop) $7
I’ll probably get a lot of flak for putting a side dish as my favorite pork option but this couldn’t not make the list. The item is Burton’s maple syrup-braised bacon. It’s not your typical thinly sliced crisped bacon that you top on a sandwich. This is an inch-thick slab of pig that’s crisped on the outside, yet chewy and pork belly-esque on the inside. The maple syrup adds a sweet balance to the epic savoriness that is this side dish. Even though it’s not your typical bacon, it’s everything you want bacon to be. You can never look at thin bacon strips the same again.
Sun Wah BBQ’s Barbecue Roast Duck (Uptown) $13 for medium
Duck is my favorite protein. Because I order it every time I see it on a menu, I consider myself an expert. What Sun Wah does with its duck is nothing short of magic. Peking ducks are their specialty—they hang in the windows to get your mouth watering before you even enter, then they slice it whole at the table. The skin is perfectly crisp and the inside juicy. Eat it alone or served in a bao bun with customizable fixings. If that doesn’t sell you on Sun Wah, this place is also BYOB and specializes in feasts for groups, so go for your next birthday. And invite me.
Salero’s Roasted Venison (West Loop) $32
One of my new favorite restaurants, Salero has yet to serve me something I didn’t love. Picking a favorite dish there is tough, but the roasted venison is up there in my top bites. It’s served with sunchokes, sweet-potato purée, beets, venison-sage sausage and juniper-red wine sauce. If you don’t know what half of those words are, don’t fear—the venison is the star and Salero knows how to cook its meat to perfection. It melts in your mouth and has the flavor of a high-quality steak with a touch of gaminess.
Lizzy Freier is a Menu Analysis Editor based in Chicago. She tracks restaurant trends in her professional life and loves eating in her personal life. She prefers her men in Mugsy Jeans.