Day 16: Biting Into a Legend

6 Aug


The first thing most people (Chicago people, that is) ask when they hear about the month of burgers is, “Have you been to Kuma’s?” Now I can say I have. And I didn’t even wait two hours in line.

Kuma’s, for those who don’t pay attention to these things, is an out-of-the-way heavy metal bar whose outlandish burgers are regularly voted Chicago’s best, and even made it into a NY Times article (that my mother sent me, of course). Weekend wait times can go up to two hours, and it was pretty packed even on a Thursday afternoon.

All the burgers are are named after metal bands, some more intuitively than others. For example, Black Sabbath gets a blackening spice, etc. The accoutrements make each burger almost a dare, like the Led Zep, which has both pulled pork AND bacon. (One magical animal, indeed.) It’s a bit “Man vs. Food.” I kind of want to see a Kuma’s Ultimate Challenge Burger, where you have to hunt down the animal, butcher it, and cook it up into a burger. Preferably with bears. Although in this version of Man vs. Food, the food might win.

I had the famous Slayer burger, described in the menu as a “pile of fries topped with a 10 oz. Burger, Chili, Cherry Peppers, Andouille, Onions, Jack Cheese, and Anger.” And here I thought it was indigestion.

Slayer, the burger, not the band.

Here’s the patty, unearthed from under all that cheese and whatnot:

Actually, I think the Anger is why the chef doesn’t give you a bun (not that you need it, with all those fries). This was my first bun-less burger of the month, and I hesitate to even call it a burger: it was more like the world’s awesomest chili cheese fries, plus a burger patty. I missed that sensation of biting into a hamburger.

It was also the first burger I failed to finish. But seriously, this thing is huge! The waitress confessed that she’d never seen anyone finish a Slayer, which makes me think Kuma’s should start a contest: finish a Slayer and get it for free. I would have totally cleaned my plate.

For the comparative purposes, my lunch date got a more traditional burger (i.e. One that comes on a bun), the Pantera. Poblano, bacon, cheese, and Ranchero sauce. Delicious. I’m totally stealing the sauce idea when I make burgers at home. I’m pleased to report that the patty was a solid, juicy hunk of beef, and the pretzel bun did an admiral job of containing the mass.

So, is Kuma’s the best burger in town? The short answer: no. The long answer: if I want a hamburger, I’m going to Edzo’s or J. Wellington’s or, if I’ve got the cash, Hot Chocolate. If I want a Kuma burger, I’m going to Kuma’s. They’re unique constructions that deserve a craving of their own.

But I’m not waiting two hours for it.


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