Who is The Great Burgerelli?

Who is the Great Burgerelli, you ask? I, the Great Burgerelli, am a fearless seeker of fine burgers. I have no patience for simple hot dogs. Chicken sandwiches bore me. And don't even get me started on Italian beef. It's only burgers for me, the Great Burgerelli!

Not just any burger will do. I am on a hunt for the best burger in the city, and I will leave no menu unturned. I try a new burger once a month, sometimes more. Join me on my noble quest, won't you?

If there's a burger you think I'd fancy, send your suggestion to gburgerelli@tribune.com. (April 26, 2012)

Indie Burger
1034 W. Belmont Ave. 773-857-7777
Rating: !! (out of 4)

Despite this sudden hipness of handlebar mustaches, The Great Burgerelli has never been one of the cool kids. At Indie Burger, a new counter-service eatery in Lakeview, indie rock and independent business practices intersect in the realm of hamburgers. While fellow burger lovers perused the concert posters on the wall and read up about the restaurant’s organic commitment, I set my sights on the burgers themselves.

The burger: A third-pound patty is, indeed, made with organic beef, and in this case, the quality of the meat is discernible. Properly seasoned and cooked through, the burger retains its juiciness but does not veer into treacherous greasy territory. After a few bites of this premium patty, I’m beginning to see that the grass-fed fuss isn’t just a marketing tactic.

The bun: Baked locally by those tattooed ruffians at Bleeding Heart, the plump, golden bun is unlike most I have encountered. It is indeed fluffy, but somehow still stands up to the juicy patty and plentiful toppings. A lighty buttered and toasted underside helps it stay intact from first to final bite.

The fixings: The regular cheeseburger ($7.99) arrives with a colorful collage of ingredients. Vibrant green lettuce, onion, ketchup, crunchy crinkle-cut pickles, aioli and one’s choice of cheese align harmoniously while still retaining their distinct flavors. The signature Indie burger ($7.99), however, is a rather unappealing muddle of brownish toppings, including an indistinguishable horseradish-chipotle “Indie Sauce,” which coats a heap of over-grilled onions and swiss cheese. Although I fail to fathom how any of the patrons clad in skinny jeans could squeeze in extra meatiness, beef bacon can be added for an additional $1.99.

Everything else: The Great Burgerelli does indeed appreciate good onion rings as an alternative to traditional french fries, but the tempura batter on these specimens ($3.50) is disappointingly doughy and under-seasoned. I strongly suggest ordering a small order of the standard, thick-cut fries ($2.50), which leaves just enough room for a birch beer float ($4.99) made with a pinkish, fizzy soda that seems to me a novel hybrid of root beer and cream soda.

Bottom line: Some of Indie Burger’s so-called indie choices—such as using organic beef and partnering with Bleeding Heart for the buns—do, in fact, rock. Others, like the squishy onion rings and messy Indie Burger toppings, hit a sour note.


The Great Burgerelli is a fearless seeker of fine burgers. Send him ideas for his next burger adventure at gburgerelli@tribune.com.