Burger review: Parts and Labor
2700 N. Milwaukee Ave. 773-360-7040
Rating: !! 1/2 (out of 4)
A man cannot live on one type of burger alone--certainly not a beef-obsessed man like Burgerelli. Thick char burgers certainly are satisfying, but my tummy has rumbled recently for the lace-like edges of a pressed griddle burger. Edzo's Burger Shop fits the bill, but wherefore art the rest of the griddle burger barons? Parts and Labor, a mechanic-themed bar and burger restaurant that opened mid-December in Logan Square, serves only these precious pressed patties. Owner Russ Grant, a partner in Boiler Room and Simone's Bar, comes from venerable burger lineage; his father opened and operated Wonderburger in Mount Greenwood for more than 50 years. Is griddle burger greatness hereditary? Burgerelli put his taste buds to the task.
The burger: Parts and Labor's menu is blissfully simple, which makes ordering a breeze even if one has quaffed one of the handful of craft beers on tap. The Classic Double Burger ($5) arrived with its patties hot and surprising juicy, each beefy round ringed by the requisite crisp edges. The flavor of the beef, combined with the simplicity of toppings, reminded me of a fast food hamburger, but without the grease, or, heaven forbid, the plebeian torment of a drive-through window. One may add bacon ($1) or an extra patty ($2), or forgo meat altogether and substitute a vegan black bean patty on a vegan bun.
The bun: A standard ungrilled Turano burger bun, sans seeds, remained remarkably intact throughout my meal. A Burgerelli tip, dear readers: Keep the paper wrapping around the burger as long as possible to minimize squishing and keep the juices from sullying one's clothes.
The fixings: Parts and Labor's burgers come dressed only with two slices of American cheese--fully melted, bravo!--thin onion slices, lettuce, pickles and mayo. To this lineup, Burgerelli added a generous smear of ketchup and mustard, bottles of which were easily accessible at the center of the communal table at which I was seated. I tasted no surprising or exceptional flavors, but the classic lineup of accoutrements did take me back to the no-frills burgers of my youth.
Everything else: To stretch one's budget, order a $10 combo, which includes the double burger, one of five side dishes ($3 on their own) and a "swill" beer (of the Hamm's, Pabst or Coors Banquet variety) or shot. Having sampled the onion rings, curly fries and fried giardiniera, Burgerelli endorses the latter, which adds the spice, crunch and vinegar tartness that the cheeseburger needs. As I drained my bottle of Miller High Life and wiped my mustache, I briefly considered ordering a fried Twinkie ($5) or one of the more than a dozen exotic-sounding sodas on the menu, but my waistband protested.
Bottom line: For an old-fashioned griddle burger and beer, Parts and Labor is a budget-friendly and satisfying choice, even if the burger doesn't make a lasting impression.
Pro tip: Use the bar's ATM, show your receipt to your server and receive a free shot of Fernet Branca amaro.
The Great Burgerelli is a fearless seeker of fine burgers. firstname.lastname@example.org