We finally made plans to make the trip the north side of Chicago. We had to pick up the first of three out-of-town bridesmaids who flew in early to stay with another friend who lived in Bucktown. We offered just to pick her up at her friend’s place because it was only a ten minute drive to West Belmont and I’d finally get to chow down on Illinois’ best burger.
Kuma’s Corner is on the corner of West Belmont Avenue and North Francisco Avenue in Chicago’s Avondale Neighborhood. It’s an old corner building that doesn’t look like it should house such a popular restaurant. The door was open and there were people spilling out when we drove by. Like most of these neighborhood places, there is no specific parking. You’re own your own to find something along the street.
We drove around the block before finding a spot about a block away. We were meeting a few other people there so we weren’t quite ready to sit when we got there. J and her friend went in to find the hostess who said they couldn’t seat seven people together. It was a “weight” issue. I’ll explain that in a little bit. Our whole party wasn’t there yet anyway, so they put in our names and we were told it would be about an hour wait.
Since it was a nice night, we stayed out of the cramped building and hung out on the sidewalk. Not long after we put our name in, the hostess came out and said the waitresses said they were ok with serving seven together but we all had to be there to be seated. She couldnt’ seat us if we were waiting on somebody and we were still waiting on two. She was actually quite rude which we were trying to figure out was their schtick or if she really was just that rude.
Anyway, she left us alone and went back inside. She kept eyeing us looking annoyed that the last person in our party was late. Finally, we got a phone call saying he wasn’t coming, so we found Ms. Cranky Pants and she led us to a table.
None of us were aware there was a second dining room. The waitress led us through the crowded inside area to a much more relaxed and comfortable patio. It was at this point, we figured out the “weight” issue.
The tables were picnic tables. Too many people on side would have snapped the wood benches. There were just six of us now, so we split up three on each side.
We passed around menus and realized, there was no light. We couldn’t read the menus. Most of the tables had lights that attached to the umbrella stand, but ours didn’t. J and I were in the corner with no ambient light coming in, so we did the ol’ cell phone trick and used the light from our cells to read the huge burger menu.
A friend of mine told me if you ever tried to make it all the way through Kuma’s menu, you’d gain five hundred pounds. Their selection of burgers is huge!…..and all of them are named after rock bands. They really don’t have much else. They have a couple salads, a couple apps, and three other sandwiches. Vegetarians need not worry though, when you order a burger, you do have a choice of beef, chicken breast, garden burger, or chicken tenders.
I couldn’t decide. I really wanted to enjoy this first experience and get a chance to eat a Kuma’s burger in all it’s glory. I was going to order the Led Zepplin which had pulled pork, cheddar cheese, bacon, and a pickle on top of the burger. I chickened out at the last minute and went with the Original Famous Kuma Burger which had a fried egg, cheddar cheese and bacon. All sandwiches are served on a pretzel roll with choice of fries, chips, or salad.
The burgers take about an hour to make just because of the large volume of business they do. Their website warns their kitchen is only 16’x16′ so they can’t have five guys making burgers. It took pretty close to that hour, but when the burgers came out, I had totally forgot how long I had been sitting there.
The burger was delicious. It was just a little pink and juicy. The burger was delicious. The bacon was nice and crispy and the cheese was melted into the meat. The fried egg added its own layer to what was not an overly complex, but very tasty burger. I would have preferred a regular bun, but the pretzel roll was ok. The fries were just waffle fries. Nothing special but there was a lot. I left stuffed, but wanting more.
J ordered the Judas Priest which had bleu cheese dressing with apples, walnuts, and dried cranberries. She ordered this burger as a garden burger with a salad. They didn’t bring her a salad. They brought her fries instead. She seemed to really like the burger and loved the idea that she basically got a salad on a bun. She ate the whole burger, but had some fries left.
The other people in our group ordered The Plague Burger (Roasted Garlic Mayo, Tortilla Strips, Chicago CO-OP hot sauce, Fresh Garlic, Pepper Jack, Sliced Jalapenos), Mayhem (Sliced Jalapenos, Pancetta, Pepper Jack, Gardinera Mayo), Slayer (Pile of fries topped with a ½ lb. Burger, Chili, Cherry Peppers, Andouille, Onions, Jack Cheese, and Anger), and Neurosis (Cheddar, Swiss, Sautéed Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions, Horseradish Mayo).
Halfway through the meal, one of the other lady’s boyfriend called and she told him to join us which would put us back up to seven. The waitress didn’t care, but told her she should order a sandwich for him because it takes an hour. She got him the Orignal Kuma Burger and it worked out perfectly that he sat down and his burger came out. Since they were starting to close up the patio, he grabbed a chair from a neighboring table. Had the hostess seen this, she probably would have ripped his head off, but she had stopped coming outside because no one new was being seated.
Our bill was just under $110. There were seven us and four parties. They wouldn’t split the bill. I heard some guys behind us arguing about that because each of them wanted to pay with credit cards. They made the waitress put part of their bill on each of their credit cards. We only had one person who wanted to pay with cards, so we did our best to just split the bill. It kind of sucked for a couple people because they just had water to drink, but all they had been twenties and that was the easiest way to do it. It cost J and I forty bucks. Had it just been the two of us, it may have been five bucks cheaper including tip.
Kuma’s was awesome. The burgers were great and I really want to go back and just go down the line. The hostess was pretty rude, but the waitress was not and very accommodating. Don’t expect Kuma’s Corner to be a quick meal, but expect it to be a good one!