Meatheads

Cajun Sunrise burger at Meatheads in Roscoe Village (Lenny Gilmore/RedEye / October 3, 2012)

Burger review: Meatheads
3304 N. Western Ave. 773-525-5300
Rating: 2.5 (out of 4)

The Great Burgerelli welcomes correspondence, and as a result, the letters I receive from fellow burger lovers are plentiful indeed. One dear burger fan implored me to visit one of the many locations of Meatheads Burgers & Fries—in Northbrook, Naperville or perhaps Schaumburg, the storied home of Legoland and Ikea. The trouble is, I simply do not often find myself in these far-flung suburban municipalities; there are just too many burger adventures demanding my attention within the city of Chicago proper. But then something happened that led me to believe that I must not be the only city dweller harboring a curiosity for a mysterious Meatheads burger: It opened its first city location last week in the quaint neighborhood of Roscoe Village. When a new burger establishment opens, The Great Burgerelli is not far behind. So, off to Roscoe I went.

The burger: No patty stands alone at Meatheads. Third-pound burgers consist of two patties, while a larger half-pound option consists of three. (I will note that one exception is the single-patty Lil' Meathead; however on my visit, I saw only children partake in this option.) Meatheads' thin, stackable patties are made with never-frozen Angus ground chuck and, though they are cooked through, retain enough moisture to result in a steady drip-drop of juice into my wax paper-lined basket.

The bun: Devoid of decoration in the form of poppy or sesame seeds, this specimen is potato-based and reminiscent of a traditional fast-food bun. It compresses significantly under the weight of multiple patties, but does not disintegrate. When pausing at the mid-point, the upper and lower buns had been reduced to nearly one centimeter each, which, in my humble opinion, is just too thin.

The fixings: The standard Meatheads burger ($4.75 for a third-pound, $6 for a half-pound) comes with "the works," which is ketchup, mustard, mayo, tomato, pickle, lettuce and one's choice of raw or grilled onions. Where I believe Meatheads distinguishes itself, though, is in the specialty burger department. The Texas Ranch ($6.75) combines cheddar with crispy slices of applewood-smoked bacon and bacon-ranch sauce, and to my surprise and delight I found the latter two toppings to be complementary rather than redundant. The Cajun Sunrise ($6.75) reportedly is Meatheads' most popular treatment, with adornments consisting of pepper jack cheese, bacon, fried egg, blue cheese sauce and jalapeno slices. I found the combination of cheeses unique, not necessarily in the most pleasant of ways.

Everything else: Fries ($2-$3) resemble those of certain popular fast-food chains in thickness, but are hand-cut and fried to order with bits of the peel left on for flavor. Hand-dipped milkshakes ($4) come in the classic vanilla, chocolate and strawberry flavors as well as mocha, coffee and the oh-so-decadent Oreo, which was sufficiently thick but not straw-collapsingly so. The Meatheads logo is the silhouette of a steer emblazoned the letter "m," and I found it quite entertaining that tattoos of a temporary nature were displayed at the register where one might usually find business cards and such. I would venture to guess that they were intended to appeal to patrons much younger than the Great Burgerelli, but nonetheless they tickled me so.

Bottom line: In the grand scheme of counter-service burgers, I found Meatheads to be more substantial than M Burger and significantly more refined than Five Guys. I must admit that I find better-burger competitor Epic Burger to be slightly superior—if just by a bun.

The Great Burgerelli is a fearless seeker of fine burgers and RedEye's reviewer of new burger establishments. gburgerelli@tribune.com