Kuma's Corner: A Test of Endurance

April 02 2010 - 7:37 AM

Sometimes you have to wonder whether the reason everyone loves Kuma’s Corner is because they’re so damn hungry by the time they actually get a burger.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not upset about my two-hour wait at 4 pm on a Sunday. I came fully aware, warned by other diners that lines spilling out the door were the status quo at Kuma’s, and that no reservations were taken. Even their website admonishes you with a list of rules: “Our kitchen is only 16×6. Please be patient.” Fair enough, they can’t help it if they’re wildly successful and perennially voted Chicago’s top burger, right? I just wish I had eaten more before subjecting myself to hours of gastronomic abuse, hearing the sizzle of the grill and watching formidable plates of burgers waft past me to other lucky guests. Apologies to the guy who was sitting at the counter in front of me. I thought if I stared hard enough, I might be able to move a burger with telekinetic powers.

In the meantime, there is certainly plenty to see inside the dining room. Kuma’s Corner is first and foremost a metal bar, with a hold-no-prisoners attitude and loud metal soundtrack to make any black leather-clad, gauntlet-wearing thrasher feel at home. A poster on the back wall declares, “Die emo die.” This atmosphere may not be immediately appealing to you, but the burgers served here are so fantastic that lawyers and grandmothers of all stripes brave the scene.

The bar offers an excellent selection of beers on draft, including local options from Three Floyds and Metropolitan Brewing. As they put it themselves, “Death to Miller and Budweiser… they are over-produced and inferior products that prevent passionate craftsmen from sharing their gifts with all of us.”

Once you make it to a seat, choose from the 20+ burgers on the menu, all of which are named after metal bands. Vegetarians can also choose a garden burger, or opt for a heaping plate of macaroni & cheese. The selection of toppings is where Kuma’s ingenuity truly shines. You can definitely get “standard” burger toppings like bacon and sauteed mushrooms, or you can try the Motorhead burger, topped with goat cheese, Kalamata olives, tzatziki, and oregano. The High on Fire burger makes use of Sriracha chili sauce, grilled pineapple, prosciutto and roasted red pepper. If you were split between cravings for a burger and a hot dog, you can get both in the Goblin Cock, a burger topped with a Vienna hot dog, bacon, tomato, onion, atomic green relish, sport peppers, pickles and celery salt. And of course, you can’t go wrong with the classic Kuma’s burger, with bacon, cheddar and a fried egg.

Pictured above is the Judas Priest burger, topped with bacon and apple-blue cheese slaw with cranberries and walnuts. Each burger is a hefty 10 oz grilled beef patty, and as requested, mine was cooked to a perfectly pink medium-rare. Kuma’s uses a sturdy pretzel roll for their burgers, and for the most part, my bun stayed together despite the soaking of meat juice. Sandwiches come with waffle fries or chips, with the option of salad for an additional $2. I tried the waffle fries, which came piping hot, with very crisp, almost chip-like ridges. Be sure to eat them with the jalapeno-laced ketchup.

By the time I received it, I was so hungry that I inhaled my food like a Roomba. If you are unable to demonstrate the same sort of gastrointestinal fortitude, plenty of people bring their leftovers home in the provided metal take-out boxes. For a minimized wait time, you can beat the crowd by arriving at around 4 pm on weekdays. At any other time of the week, be prepared to wait for a couple hours.

Kuma’s Corner
2900 W. Belmont
(773) 604-8769

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