The criteria every month is that the burger joint in question has to have at least half of its menu devoted to burgers and fries. In terms of longevity, it's hard to beat Schoop's, which started in 1948 in Hammond and has grown since then to include nearly 20 locations around the region.
At first glance, it's just another burger joint, albeit, one with a '50s-era diner look. But this isn't some "theme" they concocted, it's Schoop's, a ground beef icon in Northwest Indiana since, well, the late 1940s.
The Whiting location is one of nearly 20 in the region, most of which are on the Indiana side of the border. Their burgers have become something of a local legend.
"On the grill is like an upside down saucer. Your edges are crispy, and your middle is pretty well thick," said Neala Wolford, Manager of Schoop's in Whiting, Indiana.
That's because they smash the baseball-sized balls of ground beef into the thinnest discs possible. Doubles and triples are not uncommon. Typical toppings include cheese, bacon, mushrooms and onions. Of course, you can also customize toppings such as lettuce, tomatoes, relish, pickles, mustard and ketchup.
But it's the other options on the menu that set Schoop's apart from the other burger joints in the region. For one, they always have a homemade soup or chili on the menu. They also offer a few fountain specials, including very good root beer floats.
While many of the locations are independently owned, they all offer homemade pies, like apple, available with or without ice cream.
Another regional touch: the "Irish" nachos. Translated, that's French fries topped with ranch dressing, crumbled bacon and scallions, then placed beneath a hot cheese dispenser for that unique ballpark flavor.
But seriously, it's the wide, flat, juicy burgers customers come for, and that's about all the regulars really need.
'It's good burgers...nice and juicy," said Wolford.
1449 Indianapolis Blvd.
Previously featured on First Fridays with Fries:
2555 W. 75th St., Naperville
Five Guys Burgers & Fries
1115 Lake St., Oak Park
2140 N. Clybourn
15100 LaGrange Rd., Orland Park
5400 N Clark St
517 S. State St.
666 W. Diversey Pkwy.