Umami Burger is all the rage in Wicker Park these days, just like hipsters used to be – I think they’re on the way out, yes? I’m not cool enough to know what exactly has replaced all the skinny jeans, beards and PBR, but I’m guessing Umami Burger is a contender for that list, judging on how much hype this place is getting. Yeah, maybe instead of hipsters, WP will now be full of clean shaven dudes drinking cider and eating burgers. #BurgerPark. Weird.
But, Umami Burger! I’d wanted to go a few weeks ago when my #BFF was in town from Nashville, but we opted for Little Goat Diner instead. I got a chance to revisit my wish this past Sunday, when my jet-setting roommate (for reals, she’s a flight attendant) and I took a stroll down the street after reading all the Umami Burger Yelp reviews, and deciding against Antique Taco and Pot Pan.
We got there close to 8 p.m. on a Sunday night, and there was a 25-30 minute wait. Not a problem in this neighborhood, kids. Take your pick from all the bars up and down Milwaukee. We opted for one of my favorites standby’s, Nick’s Beer Garden, had a quick drink and were texted by the hostess that our table was ready within the advertised wait time.
Upon sitting down, our waiter delivered the menus and took our drink order. They were out of a lot of their drafts and seasonal beers, but the waiter did a great job of answering questions about the remaining in-stock drafts and bottles. They also have a full bar if a cocktail is what you fancy with your burger. I wasn’t too concerned about the missing beers, opting for a water, because, hey, it’s Sunday night and I’m usually in bed at 8 p.m. anyway.
After considering the burger menu (not an overwhelming amount of choices, but tough choices), I went for the Manly burger (duh), my roommate ordered The Hatch, and we decided to split an order of Truffle cheese fries and the Smushed potatoes. After ordering, I got to explain what “umami” means, basically the tongue’s 5th taste alongside sweet, sour, salty and bitter; umami is that savory MSG taste. I think I learned this on an episode of Top Chef, so there you go – watching reality TV obviously makes you smarter!
When our order arrived I knew right away the Manly burger was unquestionably the right choice. Read the ingredients and tell me I’m wrong: beer-cheddar, bacon lardons, smoked-salt onion strings, Umami house ketchup, mustard spread. Ok, and now, tell me what a bacon lardon is. I didn’t know, didn’t care, and after eating the burger, I think maybe they’re kind of like…bacon bits? Let’s consult the Googles. Ah, yes, I’m not far off. Here’s the Manly burger in all its glory:
Something magical happened while I was eating this burger: all the ingredients combined to form almost what I would call a meat jam™. Everything melded into each other, forming an exciting amalgam (cough, cough – thanks, Heather Dubrow of RHOC) of flavors. It was all very exciting, and I’m guessing quite manly. I ate the whole thing, and there’s no doubt that’s manly.
Hey, look at these other pictures:
That’s the Hatch burger. It’s got roasted chiles. Weeeeeeee!
Those are the Smushed potatoes. They’re fried twice, which makes them…twice as nice. Both the truffle cheese fries and the Smushed potatoes were worth every carb-laden bite, and they’re the perfect size for splitting.
Now, the thing that I made me really fall in love with Umami Burger, was the sauces! I am a dipper of things into other things, mostly sauces. They gave me an entire bucket of sauces! Really!
There’s the Umami house ketchup (sweet and smoky, right up my alley), the orange hot one™, garlic aioli and my personal fave, the jalapeño ranch. (<—- Hey, thanks Chrome or WordPress for adding the ñ – so official!) Spoiler alert: everything is awesome dipped in these sauces. It’s kind of like…:
Oh man, I love that song (all 10 hours).
So, yeah, Umami Burger – you’re going to want to go. One other thing of note – our server was adamant that if we didn’t like something, he’d just bring us something else for free. He told us at least 3 times, making me think that must be a restaurant policy, not an individual rogue server policy; maybe I’m wrong. If only I didn’t like everything so much, I would have taken him up on that for sure. But I was too busy concentrating on my manly meat jam™.
Umami Burger is located at 1480 N. Milwaukee Ave. | Chicago, IL 60622 | Website