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Top Notch Beefburgers, or not?

Top Notch Beefburgers, or not?
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  • Top Notch Beefburgers, or not?

    Post #1 - September 22nd, 2009, 1:50 pm
    Post #1 - September 22nd, 2009, 1:50 pm Post #1 - September 22nd, 2009, 1:50 pm
    Headin' down south to do some investigative work for the juvenile justice clinic at the law school tonight. My first thoughts were BBQ or Thats-A-Burger, but those places are too far east of where I'm headed (Beverly). Top Notch came to mind - the only thread I could find was the GNR. What's the deal? Is Top Notch still where it's at on the Southwest Side? Can a famished amateur private dick get a decent meal there?

    Top Notch Beefburgers
    2116 W 95th St
    Chicago, IL 60643
    (773) 445-7218

    Top Notch Beefburgers
    4720 W 95th St
    Oak Lawn, IL 60453
    (708) 422-5544

    That's-A-Burger
    2134 E. 71st St
    Chicago, IL
    (773) 493-2080
    "By the fig, the olive..." Surat Al-Teen, Mecca 95:1"
  • Post #2 - September 22nd, 2009, 2:34 pm
    Post #2 - September 22nd, 2009, 2:34 pm Post #2 - September 22nd, 2009, 2:34 pm
    Habibi wrote:Headin' down south to do some investigative work for the juvenile justice clinic at the law school tonight. My first thoughts were BBQ or Thats-A-Burger, but those places are too far east of where I'm headed (Beverly). Top Notch came to mind - the only thread I could find was the GNR. What's the deal? Is Top Notch still where it's at on the Southwest Side? Can a famished amateur private dick get a decent meal there?


    Yes and yes, personally. Go for the 1/4lb rather than the 1/2lb. Get a second 1/4lb if you're really hungry. Which is not to say the 1/2lb burger is bad... it's just not as good.

    Don't forget to get a shake, too, ideally oreo:

    Image
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #3 - September 22nd, 2009, 2:48 pm
    Post #3 - September 22nd, 2009, 2:48 pm Post #3 - September 22nd, 2009, 2:48 pm
    I tried Top Notch on the Fritter-Sweet Potato-Burger-Watermelon Caravan. Meh. It was Ok. If you're in that neighborhood, go down the street to Jimmy Jamm's.

    -Dan
  • Post #4 - September 22nd, 2009, 2:56 pm
    Post #4 - September 22nd, 2009, 2:56 pm Post #4 - September 22nd, 2009, 2:56 pm
    Habibi wrote:Headin' down south to do some investigative work for the juvenile justice clinic at the law school tonight. My first thoughts were BBQ or Thats-A-Burger, but those places are too far east of where I'm headed (Beverly). Top Notch came to mind - the only thread I could find was the GNR. What's the deal? Is Top Notch still where it's at on the Southwest Side? Can a famished amateur private dick get a decent meal there?



    Yes. I'd absolutely recommend Top Notch. Don't forget the fries and a malt (personally, I'd take a chocolate malt over an Oreo shake, but that's just me). I prefer the one further east on 95th rather than the one near Oak Lawn in the strip mall, even though on paper they're the same.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #5 - September 22nd, 2009, 3:00 pm
    Post #5 - September 22nd, 2009, 3:00 pm Post #5 - September 22nd, 2009, 3:00 pm
    dansch wrote:I tried Top Notch on the Fritter-Sweet Potato-Burger-Watermelon Caravan. Meh. It was Ok. If you're in that neighborhood, go down the street to Jimmy Jamm's

    I'm on the other side of the coin, Jimmy Jams, ~eh~, Top Notch, Yes Sir Senator!

    Burger, single as Gleam suggests, Banana shake and fries. I should note I have not had savory at Jimmy Jams, but Top Notch really is top notch.

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    Top Notch
    2116 W 95th St
    Chicago, IL 60643
    773-445-7218

    Top Notch
    4720 W 95th St
    Oak Lawn, IL 60453
    708-422-5544

    Jimmy Jamm Sweet Potato Pies
    1844 W 95th St
    Chicago, IL 60643
    773-779-9105
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #6 - September 22nd, 2009, 3:20 pm
    Post #6 - September 22nd, 2009, 3:20 pm Post #6 - September 22nd, 2009, 3:20 pm
    I should note that the shake pictured above is, indeed, a malt.

    Choco-banana malt sounds pretty good, too. Might have to see if they'll do that.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #7 - September 22nd, 2009, 3:35 pm
    Post #7 - September 22nd, 2009, 3:35 pm Post #7 - September 22nd, 2009, 3:35 pm
    Is there a notable differnece in between the burgers at either location? Which is the original?
  • Post #8 - September 22nd, 2009, 3:36 pm
    Post #8 - September 22nd, 2009, 3:36 pm Post #8 - September 22nd, 2009, 3:36 pm
    gleam wrote:I should note that the shake pictured above is, indeed, a malt.

    Choco-banana malt sounds pretty good, too. Might have to see if they'll do that.


    Oh yes. They will.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #9 - September 22nd, 2009, 3:39 pm
    Post #9 - September 22nd, 2009, 3:39 pm Post #9 - September 22nd, 2009, 3:39 pm
    Ghazi wrote:Is there a notable differnece in between the burgers at either location? Which is the original?



    The one at 2116 W 95th is the original, and my favorite. The burgers are pretty much the same on paper at both locations, but there is something about the strip mall ambiance of the one at 4720 W 95th that makes me enjoy eating at that locaton much less than the one in Beverly.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #10 - September 22nd, 2009, 3:52 pm
    Post #10 - September 22nd, 2009, 3:52 pm Post #10 - September 22nd, 2009, 3:52 pm
    Careful, the malts can get messy.

    Image
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #11 - September 22nd, 2009, 3:54 pm
    Post #11 - September 22nd, 2009, 3:54 pm Post #11 - September 22nd, 2009, 3:54 pm
    Hopefully, the Blackberry survived.
    Hors D'oeuvre: A ham sandwich cut into forty pieces.
    - Jack Benny
  • Post #12 - September 22nd, 2009, 4:02 pm
    Post #12 - September 22nd, 2009, 4:02 pm Post #12 - September 22nd, 2009, 4:02 pm
    The one at 2116 W 95th is the original, and my favorite. The burgers are pretty much the same on paper at both locations, but there is something about the strip mall ambiance of the one at 4720 W 95th that makes me enjoy eating at that locaton much less than the one in Beverly.


    As I said in the GNR thread, the original "is homey, and the other, rest-homey." I think the burgers are actually better at the Beverly one, too, but that could be the power of suggestion. Anyway, they're what, 3 miles apart? Well worth a few extra miles.
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  • Post #13 - September 22nd, 2009, 4:05 pm
    Post #13 - September 22nd, 2009, 4:05 pm Post #13 - September 22nd, 2009, 4:05 pm
    "The one at 2116 W 95th is the original, and my favorite."

    The original top notch was on 79th street...the original beverly top notch was on 95th between pleasant and longwood.

    Habibi, if you go there and it's closed, another good option is Fox's Beverly Pub Pizza on Western Avenue...I think on 97th...it's on the West side of WEstern so they serve beer (Beverly is still dry).
  • Post #14 - September 22nd, 2009, 4:41 pm
    Post #14 - September 22nd, 2009, 4:41 pm Post #14 - September 22nd, 2009, 4:41 pm
    If I make it down before 8 it's a quarter pounder with chocolate malt. I'm going to the Beverly location. Thanks all.
    "By the fig, the olive..." Surat Al-Teen, Mecca 95:1"
  • Post #15 - September 22nd, 2009, 5:22 pm
    Post #15 - September 22nd, 2009, 5:22 pm Post #15 - September 22nd, 2009, 5:22 pm
    The one good thing about the Oak Lawn Top Notch is that it's across the street of Cupid Candies. Of course, I have to will myself to have tummy space for a turtle sundae after Top Notch, but it's a task I can usually manage.
    Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.
  • Post #16 - September 22nd, 2009, 5:48 pm
    Post #16 - September 22nd, 2009, 5:48 pm Post #16 - September 22nd, 2009, 5:48 pm
    If you get up there too late for Top Notch, you could always hightail it over to Chuck's (a few miles away, but not bad) or Petey's Bungalow, which is a bit closer to Top Notch (and very close to the Oak Lawn location).
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #17 - September 22nd, 2009, 6:15 pm
    Post #17 - September 22nd, 2009, 6:15 pm Post #17 - September 22nd, 2009, 6:15 pm
    G Wiv wrote:
    dansch wrote:I tried Top Notch on the Fritter-Sweet Potato-Burger-Watermelon Caravan. Meh. It was Ok. If you're in that neighborhood, go down the street to Jimmy Jamm's

    I'm on the other side of the coin, Jimmy Jams, ~eh~, Top Notch, Yes Sir Senator!


    ChefGEB chimes in via twitter:

    "Hanging out in Beverly: Top Notch burgers and Jimmy Jamm's sweet potato pie...booyah!"
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #18 - September 22nd, 2009, 8:15 pm
    Post #18 - September 22nd, 2009, 8:15 pm Post #18 - September 22nd, 2009, 8:15 pm
    I second the 95th/Cicero Top Notch-Cupid Candies duo. I did it once with a one-pounder followed up by a Green River float.

    Also, having grown up eating at the Cicero location, I've noticed only slight differences between the two--though for ambience, the Beverly location wins, no questions asked.
  • Post #19 - September 22nd, 2009, 8:54 pm
    Post #19 - September 22nd, 2009, 8:54 pm Post #19 - September 22nd, 2009, 8:54 pm
    Happy to report that Top Notch was, well...you know.

    I got the 1/4 lb. with everything and it was great, but next time I think I'll go without mayo and add mustard. Fries were great, a generous serving (included in the price of the burger) and very rich. Cooked in beef tallow I believe?

    The best thing however was the chocolate malt. I don't usually like dairy based drinks, but this absolutely blew me away. Deep chocolate and malt flavors, gorgeous texture and not cloyingly sweet. The malt is worth a trip alone. Next time I'll try choco-banana per your rec, Gary.

    The place is brimming with old school charm, and is full of warm service and faithful regulars. Go Beverly.
    "By the fig, the olive..." Surat Al-Teen, Mecca 95:1"
  • Post #20 - September 23rd, 2009, 9:00 am
    Post #20 - September 23rd, 2009, 9:00 am Post #20 - September 23rd, 2009, 9:00 am
    Ed Fisher,

    Thanks for the link to Mike G.'s splendid review of Petey's.

    It was a "go to" place for the family growing up in the 60's but I never recall anyone getting a burger so I guess it's time for a return trip.

    We used to order the pan fried in butter chicken....steaks....and ribs. All roadhouse fare and a great value. The cottage cheese, three bean salad and macaroni salad gratis after the relish tray and garlic bread is what sticks in the memory.
  • Post #21 - December 17th, 2009, 2:06 pm
    Post #21 - December 17th, 2009, 2:06 pm Post #21 - December 17th, 2009, 2:06 pm
    I was able to convince my friend who was driving, to head over to Top Notch in Beverly last Friday. We were down at 106th & Ellis on the "East Side" for a wake. I figured I rarely get that far south and how far could Top Notch be from where we were? Well, it was a good distance, but my driver was game. Our comment upon taking our first bites of the burgers: "this tastes like beef!" It was everything I had hoped for and more -- great burger, fries and a delicious chocolate malt. We felt well-protected as we saw a few tables of Chicago's finest during our meal. We did ask directions from two of the police officers and ended up conversing a bit with another table of folks about Moody's burgers. Good times.
    -Mary
  • Post #22 - September 11th, 2012, 12:29 pm
    Post #22 - September 11th, 2012, 12:29 pm Post #22 - September 11th, 2012, 12:29 pm
    Deleted from the GNR thread and reposted here 'cause I don't pay close enough attention to rules sometimes I guess.

    The last couple of times SaintPizza and I have gone, there has been something different about the fries--not cooked enough, taste different, something--to the point where she's asked that we not have it as one of our regular spots anymore. I usually order the onion rings and haven't noticed a difference there, and the burgers still seem every bit as good, to me, as ever. But the fries have seemed less special, and the change seemed to happen something on the order of 6 months ago. Does a change in the quality of the fries mean it's not a GNR anymore? I dunno. Just wanted to put that out there in part 'cause honestly I've been wondering if anybody else has noticed a difference.
    Ronnie said I should probably tell you guys about my website so

    Hey I have a website.
    http://www.sandwichtribunal.com
  • Post #23 - September 11th, 2012, 9:46 pm
    Post #23 - September 11th, 2012, 9:46 pm Post #23 - September 11th, 2012, 9:46 pm
    I just had them on Friday--carried out--and the fries were still quite good. Typically the fries suffer a great deal after sitting in a brown sack for a bit. These were still quite delectable, with the usual tallow-y goodness, which surprised me, a life-long Top Notch eater. I wonder if it's a time-of-day issue? Could you ask for them more well done? And perhaps our palates change, too. Elsewhere, I am quite used to well-done fries, but 'golden' is definitely the right adjective for Top Notch's version. Sample bias and the inconsistencies inherent in any restaurant operation may play a part. I'll try to get back soon to check.
  • Post #24 - October 1st, 2012, 12:36 pm
    Post #24 - October 1st, 2012, 12:36 pm Post #24 - October 1st, 2012, 12:36 pm
    We were headed to a friend's cottage in Michigan for the weekend. I plotted our way out of town to include lunch at Top Notch, stop for a pie from Jimmy Jam's, pick up smoked salmon at Calumet Fisheries, and get beer at Three Floyd's. Poor Mr. X had to suffer through all of this. ;-)

    This was Mr. X's first time at Top Notch, my second, and won't be the last. I had a 5 ounce patty melt, he had an 1/2 pound burger and fries. We split a chocolate shake. Burgers were done to perfection, fries were excellent. We sat at the counter and enjoyed the ambience. The place was hopping with people from all walks of life. It was a great lunch.
    -Mary
  • Post #25 - October 1st, 2012, 1:13 pm
    Post #25 - October 1st, 2012, 1:13 pm Post #25 - October 1st, 2012, 1:13 pm
    The GP wrote: I plotted our way out of town to include lunch at Top Notch, stop for a pie from Jimmy Jam's, pick up smoked salmon at Calumet Fisheries, and get beer at Three Floyd's. Poor Mr. X had to suffer through all of this. ;-)



    nice.

    did the Calumet/Jimmy Jam combo a couple weeks ago. Kicking myself for not stopping @ Top Notch as we passed.
  • Post #26 - October 2nd, 2012, 10:17 am
    Post #26 - October 2nd, 2012, 10:17 am Post #26 - October 2nd, 2012, 10:17 am
    I went there for the first and last time about 4 months ago. I ate there. This was the worst burger I have had in recent memory. Dry, tasteless only to be accompanied by some of the worst fries in recent memory. Soggy and lifeless but the perfect accompaniment to the equally horrible burger. Never ever again.
  • Post #27 - October 2nd, 2012, 12:24 pm
    Post #27 - October 2nd, 2012, 12:24 pm Post #27 - October 2nd, 2012, 12:24 pm
    Wow, you either had an anomalous experience, or have different tastes in hamburgers than I do. Their 1/4 pounder is my favorite in Chicago, by far. (I even prefer it to Edzo's in Evanston.) Everything a good griddled fast-food style burger should be. I'm not as much a fan of their thicker burgers, though. Or, at least, I have other places I like to go to for that kind of burger. (I can't comment on the fries, as it's been years since I've ordered fries with a burger.)

    What was it that you didn't like about the burger?
  • Post #28 - October 3rd, 2012, 2:55 pm
    Post #28 - October 3rd, 2012, 2:55 pm Post #28 - October 3rd, 2012, 2:55 pm
    I've had the bad fries thing happen--see upthread--but the burgers have always been outstanding.
    Ronnie said I should probably tell you guys about my website so

    Hey I have a website.
    http://www.sandwichtribunal.com
  • Post #29 - October 14th, 2012, 8:46 am
    Post #29 - October 14th, 2012, 8:46 am Post #29 - October 14th, 2012, 8:46 am
    Secret alternative reason for visiting Pullman house tour yesterday - the opportunity to visit far southside establishments I would not otherwise visit. I had a 1/2 lb burger and fries. I thought the burger had a good, beefy flavor. It was a little on the dry side, but still very good, and the bun was fresh. Fries were very good too - crisp exterior, soft interior and great flavor. I see the 1/4 lb is the recommended choice, but I did not review the thread before I went.

    These days, so many places have elevated the burger to an art form - very lightly packed beef, different cuts and not just chuck, etc. No, Top Notch cannot match these places in terms of beef/burger quality, but it doesn't have to. They're still putting out a very quality product, in a great old school atmosphere, and I enjoyed the visit. Next time I find myself in the area, I'll return and try out the 1/4 lb burger.
  • Post #30 - October 14th, 2012, 9:16 am
    Post #30 - October 14th, 2012, 9:16 am Post #30 - October 14th, 2012, 9:16 am
    BR wrote:These days, so many places have elevated the burger to an art form - very lightly packed beef, different cuts and not just chuck, etc. No, Top Notch cannot match these places in terms of beef/burger quality, but it doesn't have to.


    This is true. But also, remember, other LTH favorites like Edzo's, also uses freshly ground 100% chuck, as far as I know. Personally, I find Top Notch's burger slightly better than Edzo's griddled burger, but that's only based on a single trip to Edzo's. I'm sure on repeated visits, I would find them on-par. That said, I'm glad to see Chicago finally becoming a decent place for hamburgers, especially my preferred fast-food style griddled burgers. One of the few things I liked about visiting the LA environs was that they knew how to make a good burger in that style.

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