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Food & Drink

The hamburger boss’s favorite burgers in Chicago

To say that Richard Bergfors, CEO of hamburger chain Max, is obsessed with burgers is something of an understatement. He eats at least one burger every day. Even on Christmas Eve. All the while, he travels the globe in pursuit of the perfect burger. Many of his favorites are to be found in Chicago – here are five of them.

Where did your love of hamburgers come from? MAX:s CEO Richard Bergfors

“My parents started Max hamburgers before I was even born, so my whole childhood basically revolved around hamburgers. My very earliest memories are of sitting at the dining table as we tested the latest bread, dressings, and ingredients. And I remember that while my school friends went to Legoland, I hung out with my dad on road trips around America, trying out new burger places. So you could say that the burger is a beloved family member that has always been at my side. It might sound a bit wacky to some, but that’s the simple truth.” 

What is it about burgers that makes you love them so much? 

“Hamburgers never go out of style and you can customize them in millions of ways. Just by replacing the bread, changing the ingredients in a dressing, or swopping the meat, you can have a completely different taste experience. Also, making a great burger is all about technical expertise, because all the flavors have to marry together in the same bite. It’s a skill that not everyone can master. But apart from the actual taste, there’s something about hamburgers that is social and unpretentious that I think is incredibly beautiful.”

Where to find Richard’s favorite burgers in Chicago:

Au Cheval

“Wow, wow, wow – this place is pure magic! The first time I came here, there was a waiting time of 4.5 hours. I decided to go back the following day before it opened, and there was already a 50-meter line. But that didn’t matter, because I finally got to taste this wonderful burger, which is worth the trip to Chicago in itself. I have no words to describe the fantastic meat, while the bread is brilliant and the cheese is phenomenal. I tried out various combinations, but for me ‘the double’ with cheese (without bacon and egg) is by far the best. I really love this burger!”

Au Cheval

800 W Randolph Street, Chicago

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Kuma’s Corner

“Kuma’s Corner has been voted as having the best burgers in all of Chicago and has also been praised by American hamburger king George Motz for its great burgers. The meat is wonderful and the toppings are fantastic, but they lose a few points for not toasting the bread. My favorite was the ‘Mastodon Burger’, which is a really great combo of bacon, BBQ sauce, fried onion, cheddar cheese, and soft pretzel bread.”

Kuma’s Corner

2900 W Belmont Avenue, Chicago

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Butcher & the Burger

At Butcher & the Burger, they offer an incredible range of choice for you to create your own fantastic burger. You can choose everything from the meat and the spices to the bread, toppings, and extras such as foie gras, truffle aioli, and caramelized onion. When I was there last, I ordered a ‘Chef’s Creation All-American’ with the house signature burger made from the finest meat, brioche bread, lettuce, onion, tomato, pickles, ketchup, yellow mustard, and American cheese. Apart from the chargrilled meat being slightly too well-done for my taste, it was a fantastic burger at a very nice restaurant. My tip is to try the turkey burger, which was the best I’ve ever tasted!”

Butcher & the Burger

1021 W Armitage Avenue, Chicago

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Owen and Engine

“I’d heard a lot of good things about Owen and Engine in Chicago before I visited, and I can understand why – they serve really amazing burgers. Perfect meat, mature cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, and perfectly fried eggs (although they’re not really my cup of tea). The sweet onion and salty cheese possibly took over a touch, so next time I go, I’ll try a simpler burger. But this one still gets 9 out of 10, because it really is a fantastic burger.”

Owen and Engine

2700 N Western Avenue, Chicago

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Billy Goat Tavern

“The Billy Goat Tavern is a real classic among the burger joints of Chicago. It has kept the same concept and the same location since it opened in 1934, which tells you that they must be doing something right – and they are! I went for a triple ‘Cheezborger’, consisting of cheese, a thin meat patty, cheese, meat, cheese, meat – a fantastic combination! My tip is to also add a little onion and pickle as well and maybe some mustard and ketchup if you like, although I prefer it without.”

Billy Goat Tavern

430 N. Michigan Avenue, Chicago

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