South Loop burger joint offers tasty options

Our criteria is pretty simple: no major fast food chains, and burgers have to comprise at least 50 percent of the menu. There's been a wave of new options lately.

Sonic now has a location in Aurora while California-based Fatburger opened a few weeks ago in Orland Park.

But we prefer the small, independent feel at Epic Burger, a new South Loop burger joint where every detail has been carefully thought out.

What makes a burger distinctive? Unique? At Epic Burger, a new concept tucked beneath a college dorm in the South Loop, it's all about finding a niche.

"I thought that there was either fast food or that there was full-service sit-down. I didn't see anything of quality that was in between," said David Friedman, Epic Burger.

And so Friedman found a source for all-natural, hormone and antibiotic-free meat, with a good ratio of beef-to-fat. Each one is placed on the flat top grill, then pressed thin to cook quickly and evenly. That's not all.

"We use fresh-baked buns, we use whole butter, toast them, fresh-cut fries, organic ketchup, sea salt, 0 trans fat oil, nitrate free bacon and organic eggs to top our burgers," said Friedman.

Of course, that doesn't mean if you opt for a double with cheese, bacon and a fried egg, that's it's going to be good for you. But consider their attention to detail with the fries. Instead of the usual Idaho russets, Friedman chose Kennenbeck spuds.

"I just feel it gives you a better consistent potato, it's crispy, it's not greasy. I like the sugar to starch ratio, and we just get a lot of great reviews on our fries," said Friedman.

Cut in-house, they're first blanched, then fried a second time to order, ensuring crispness. Shakes and smoothies are made with all-natural ice cream or whole fruit and yogurt. They even offer turkey burgers.

But the big difference is in the simplicity of the ingredients and the non-industrialized approach.

"When people ask me what's the secret to your burgers, there really isn't a secret, it's just buying really good quality ingredients and not doing anything to them," said Friedman.

They also offer chicken sandwiches and for vegetarians, a portabella mushroom sandwich. All burgers cost the same, just $5.99.

Epic Burger
517 S. State St.

Previously featured:

The Counter
666 W. Diversey Pkwy.

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