Earlier this year, I wrote about The Country House which has three locations in the southwest and west side suburbs of Chicago. I referenced Hackney's in the entry, saying that the burger at The Country House was very similar to Hackney's. When I made a search on my blog to link up Hackney's in the entry, I found that I had never written about the place before then. And I'm truly amazed because Hackney's has one of the best burgers in the Chicagoland area and is a place that I have visited many times over the years.
Though I'm going to write about the original Hackney's today - Hackney's on Harms- there are five other Hackney's locations around the greater Chicagoland area. I have eaten at them all with the exception of the Hackney's on Printer Row in downtown Chicago.
Hackney's has a rich history that started nearly 70 years ago in north suburban Glenview. Actually, the story begins back in the mid-20's when the young widow Elizabeth Masterson married a gentleman by the name of Frank Engles. Along with her two young sons, the Engles' moved to an acreage in Glenview near the corner of Lake Ave. and Waukegan Road. They had a two story house where the upstairs served as the living quarters for the family, while the downstairs was a bar/restaurant during Prohibition.
In the early 30's, Frank Engles' aunt Helen - also known as "Bebe", and her husband, Jack Hackney, moved to an acreage on Harms Road not far from Frank's place in Glenview. After Prohibition ended, Uncle Jack and Aunt Bebe Hackney refurbished a small garage and put in little bar and restaurant that served beer and Aunt Bebe's scrumptious burgers.
In 1939, Aunt Bebe Hackney passed away - three years after Jack Hackney had also passed. Aunt Bebe's sister - who was Frank Engles' mother - inherited the property and ended up selling the place to Engles' step-son, Jim Masterson, and his new wife, Marcella, also known as "Kitz".
Jim and Kitz carried on the Hackney's tradition of a special burger - the Hackney Burger - that was conjured up by Aunt Bebe. It consists of a little over a half-pound of lean, hand cut, freshly ground beef, grilled and topped with cheddar cheese, then served on dark rye bread rather than a traditional hamburger bun. The taste sensation is just excellent and this picture on the right just makes my mouth water as I look at it.
Over the years, Jim and Kitz' seven children became involved in the family business. But decided that all of them couldn't work under one roof and make it work for everyone involved, the Masterson's bought a number of other restaurants around the Chicago area. Actually, the second Hackney's location is now where the original restaurant/bar that Frank and Elizabeth Engles owned on Lake Ave. in Glenview. That was followed by Hackney's locations in Wheeling, Chicago on Printer's Row, Lake Zurich, and in far south suburban Palos Hills. Each location is managed by a son or daughter of Jim Masterson, who passed away in 1987.
It was a cool day when I pulled into the Hackney on Harms location in Glenview (see map). Being that I wanted to write about my experience at Hackney's, I wanted to go to the original location for lunch. I walked into the half-filled restaurant not long after 1 p.m. and took a seat at the nice bar they have in the restaurant. I was greeted by the always personable and outgoing bartender at Hackney's on Harms and was given a menu. I pretty much knew what I was going to get - I usually get the same thing every time I go into a Hackney's - but I wanted to peruse the menu to familiarize myself with what else they have to offer.
Hackney's signature food item is, of course, their Hackney Burger. But they also have a Bleucheese Burger that is filled with bleu cheese crumbles mix in with the meat, and their famous Inside Out Burger that is stuffed with cheddar cheese and bacon, then topped with both cheddar and bacon. The Food Network has visited Hackney's a couple three times and has highlighted Hackney's mouth-watering burgers in their segments.
While Hackney's is famous for their burgers, they also offer a wide variety of food to choose from on their menu. They also offer steaks, seafood and chicken entrees, as well as a weekly daily special such as corned beef and cabbage, meatloaf and bratwurst with red cabbage and German potato salad. In addition to burgers, Hackney's also has a reuben, French dip, grilled chicken sandwich and both a hot beef brisket sandwich, and either hot or cold corned beef sandwich. All of them are very tempting to knock me out of my usual routine, but I always end up ordering the same thing.
And the same thing is the half-pound plus Hackney Burger placed on their daily-baked, homemade dark rye bread, topped with cheddar cheese and served with lettuce and tomato on request. The burger automatically comes with Hackney's homemade cole slaw and then you have your choice of either Hackney's french fries, boiled potato, potato chips, fruit, cottage cheese or a double helping of cole slaw. Their cole slaw is *OK*, but it's nothing that I do jumping jacks over. I ordered some cottage cheese with my burger and I also got a cup of Hackney's wonderful vegetable beef soup.
Now, one thing I have never tried at Hackney's - and being on a diet has continued to scare me off - is their onion rings. I understand Hackney's onion rings are some of the best around. They were They're served in a square loaf and you literally have to cut them apart with a knife and fork. Hackney's onion rings have garnered almost as many rave reviews as their Hackney burgers, with some reviews calling them some of the best in the United States.
The very friendly and affable bartender brought out my cup of soup and I eagerly wolfed it down. Hackney's homemade soups are made fresh daily at each location and they are just wonderful, especially on a cool day.
It wasn't much longer when my burger and cottage cheese showed up. The Hackney Burger is so big that I have to cut it in half. I usually dip it in some ketchup rather than putting any directly onto the burger. That allows me to get a couple bites of the full taste of the burger and the cheese together. And Hackney's beef for their burgers is also ground butcher fresh each day. They are absolutely delicious.
The one negative about Hackney's can be the prices. A Hackney Burger runs $8.95, probably a couple bucks higher than comparable sized burgers at other places. But because their burgers are so good, it's tough to bitch about the price.
I know that the Hackney's on Lake Ave. in Glenview serves a wonderful breakfast on Sunday morning. We went there one time after spending Saturday night in the northern Chicago suburbs. Cindy had this wild hunch that Hackney's on Lake had breakfast, she called them up and they said they did, indeed, have breakfast. So we went there and it was very good. I've found that the menu and daily special at each Hackney's location differ from place to place. It's best to go to the Hackney's web site (click on the highlighted Hackney's at the top of this entry) and then click on "menus", then click on whichever of the six Hackney's you'll be visiting to check the full menu in advance. But one thing they all have in common - the great Hackney Burger.
There - I've finally written about Hackney's. I highly recommend the Hackney Burger, but I'm sure the rest of their food is as equally good. But I really still want to try their onion ring loaf sometime. It's going to have to be with someone else because I'm afraid they'd be so good that I'd want to eat the whole damn thing.