Yeah, burger journalism is the new bacon journalism, and That's-A-Burger could not care less. In fact, if you drop them a line now, they'll be happy to prepare a sandwich for you for you over the next 37 minutes, which is cool high art to them and an anguish of expectation to you. You're not invited to eat at the restaurant - no seats, and lots of business to manage behind the glass - but you can exchange smiles, and motes of daylight and beef, and catch a glimpse of the workshop. Sometimes they'll have the old-fashioned meat grinder set up, and you can watch a steak turn into your burger. A tall pot of turkey chili simmers on the back stove. Skin-on potatoes and sweet onions are being cut down for frying, jalapenos are being sampled for heat, cold vapor is swirling off a case of Polish from the cooler, somebody's frying an egg and laughing. Through the revolving window you're passed a package of clean folded butcher paper, steaming hot, with the first spots of translucence developing.
You exit onto the street, and what a street it is - the trains run straight down the middle with the bells going constantly, cars are ba-BUMPing over the thick wooden planks of the frequent crossings, people are walking and calling across the way, and because of the triple-wide boulevard and the fact the street ends in a country club and the lake, the sky never seems closer in the city. Even in greasy-lensed cameraphone pictures it looks something like this:
That's the neighborhood, and people come from all over that area to feed their burger jones, knowing to call or plan ahead, or finding out they'll just have to order and wait, talking up a stranger inside or listening to the radio with open car windows outside. When you do get that That's-A-Burger package in your hands, it doesn't last long, except as a perfume on your car upholstery. photo: Rene G
That's a Whammy, and it's a nice way to ease into why TAB is an integral part of our virtual neighborhood as well. That's-A-Burger has been covered reverently since the earliest posts on LTHForum.com by our travelers and historians and open minds, and around in the awareness of foodies for years before Kuma's put a split polish sausage on a burger and called it a Goblin Cock (who needs that), or before Five Guys showed up and offered grilled onions, fresh jalapenos, and decent bacon as an integral part of your everyday burger. A runny fried egg on the burger is standard practice and not some recent hipster innovation. The turkey options, from patties to chili, are true American cuisine. We talk about it as not just great, but paradigm-shifting, best in category, and as waderoberts put it, "a revelation." For a neighborhood in which few of us work and fewer of us live (raise your hands), it raises a lot of curiosity and garners strong endorsements from people who know their stuff. That's-A-Burger is running an advanced burger seminar that's rooted right here on the South Side, and they've been doing it a while now.viewtopic.php?f=14&t=25737viewtopic.php?f=14&t=111viewtopic.php?f=14&t=3303
I was thinking about TAB the other day when Mike G. quoted himself:
Where is our Hot Doug of hamburgers to raise the standard and wrap lines around the block with freshly griddled, Wilshire-and-Sepulveda-by-way-of-Ponca-City classic American burgers?
They're on east 71st, and you don't notice the line because they're in the cars.
That's-A-Burger was the subject of my first post
, and I'd be happy if it was the last. A discovery like this, a like-minded dot on the map close to my dot, is what it's worth coming out of lurking for, the best part of the spirit of whatever the site has become.
Rene G wrote:
This is one great burger, among the best in Chicago. Especially considering the price, I have yet to find an equal anywhere in Chicago. It's a completely different style from Smith & Wollensky's burger (probably my favorite in Chicago), more similar to that from Kevin's Hamburger Heaven. It's large'about six inches in diameter and maybe half an inch thick--and probably weighs in at nearly a half pound before cooking. It's juicy but not excessively greasy and tastes like a burger should.
Found one yet, my friend? Even if so, thanks for the introduction to TAB, and to LTH.
2134 E. 71st St., Chicago
Tel: (773) 493-2080