When Cindy and I were in Chicago last summer for our little mini-vacation, we had lunch at Uncle Julio's in Lombard (click here to see that entry). We parked in the lot near the restaurant, but another place caught my eye. It was DMK Burger Bar. I'd read about DMK Burger Bar in Bon Appetit and in the Chicago Tribune and had always wanted to visit their Chicago location (see map). I went there once, but parking is at a premium and I couldn't find a spot that was close. It turns out they had just opened their second location in Lombard just a day or two before. While I was intrigued by DMK Burger Bar, we wanted to stick to our rule of not visiting a restaurant during its first three months of existence, just to allow them to get the kinks out. We had lunch at Uncle Julio's that day, but I was in Chicago recently and was able to stop into DMK Burger Bar for a burger.
The DMK Burger Bar in Lombard is located in the Fountain Square shopping and entertainment area of Lombard, in between Oakbrook Center Mall and Yorktown Center Mall (see map). It is the second location opened by partners Michael Kornick and David Morton, who also are involved with Fish Bar, next to the Sheffield Ave. DMK Burger Bar location.
If the name Morton sounds familiar, it's because David Morton is the son of Arnie Morton, the legendary restaurateur who founded the Morton's steakhouse chain, as well as the founder of the Playboy Clubs and Resorts. Some of Morton's children have dabbled in the restaurant business, as well. Peter Morton founded the Hard Rock Cafe chain, Miichael Morton is the owner of the contemporary N9NE steakhouses in Chicago, Las Vegas and Dallas, and David Morton founded the Pompei Italian Restaurants with four locations in the greater Chicago area.
Michael Kornick has his own legacy as the executive chef at the long defunct Gordon restaurant (a place that I ate at a couple times years ago and it was absolutely fabulous), as well as working on various projects with Richard Melman of the Lettuce Entertain You restaurants. Kornick was also the executive chef at the Four Seasons Hotel in Boston for a spell.
Kornick (pictured right) became involved with two partners to work on and open two restaurants - Marché and Red Light - but the partnership quickly dissolved. With the help of his wife, Lisa, Kornick opened mk, a highly popular eclectic restaurant in the River North area of Chicago. Kornick started his relationship with the Morton family when he was hired as a consultant/chef/partner for N9NE, then partnered with David Morton to open DMK (a combination of David Morton's and Michael Kornick's initials) Burger Bar in 2009. Kornick is also a multiple James Beard Foundation nominee for best chef in the Midwest.
The menu at DMK Burger Bar consists of nine grass-fed beef burgers that all cost $8.00 each (with the exception of the Big DMK, the bison burger, and the guacamole burger). For the more health conscious, DMK Burger Bar also has turkey burgers, lamb burgers, and salmon burgers, as well as a veggie burger and a portobello mushroom burger. They also feature sides of salads, onion straws, fried okra and dill pickles, and a number of delectable French fries - called Chicago fries - that include sweet potato fries served with a lemon Tabasco aioli sauce, salt and pepper fries with homemade ketchup, parmesan cheese fries with truffle cream, and Amish bleu cheese fries with bacon.
Since it was during the noon hour when I got to DMK Burger Bar, I had a hell of a time trying to find a parking spot in the lot in front of the business. With Uncle Julio's across the way and a Starbuck's next door, parking is at a premium during the rush hours. I was able to find a spot behind the restaurant and went in. I took a seat at the bar and the very friendly bartender greeted me with a menu. Not only does DMK Burger Bar have a number of eclectic burgers to choose from, they have a very good beer list. They had eight beers on tap and another nearly three dozen beers available in bottles. I ended up getting a Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold lager beer they had on tap.
While the bar area is bright and open with white tiled walls behind the bar, the dining area is a mix of brick, contemporary lighting and a wall lined with banquette seating. Not only was the bartender overly friendly and chatty, but so was the wait staff and the manager. They certainly were doing their best to make you feel welcome.
Picking a burger was going to be tough. At new places, I usually like to go with the basic cheeseburger, with possibly bacon and mushrooms on it, to get the feel and taste of the burger. But the were so many mouthwatering burgers being described on the menu that I was having trouble figuring out that I wanted. The Number 8 (you order by the number) was a basic cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, mayo, onions and pickles. The Number 2 was topped with chili rubbed onion-strings, Amish bleu cheese and a spicy chipotle ketchup. The Number 1 had aged cheddar, barbecue sauce, smoked bacon and charred balsamic red onions. You can see what I was up against.
But what really jumped out at me was the Number 4 - real roasted green chiles (not the stuff you get from cans), smoked bacon, Somoma jack cheese and a sunny-side-up farm fresh fried egg on top. I couldn't pass that one up, so I ordered that with a small side of the salt and pepper fries with the homemade ketchup. (I've since learned the sweet potato fries with the lemon Tabasco aioli sauce is to die for. Next time...)
About 15 minutes after I ordered the burger, one of the waitresses brought it out to me. The presentation was nice - the sunny-side-up egg was prominent on top with the bacon off to the side on the light and flaky homemade bun. It was time to dig in.
From the first bite, it was exquisite. The green chiles gave the burger a great peppery taste, but it wasn't spicy in the least. The grass-fed beef was cooked to a pink middle - exactly as I like it. Although I'd rather have a hard fried egg on my burger, the sunny-side-up egg wasn't all that messy. Along with the jack cheese and the smoked bacon, it was a superb burger.
The salt and pepper fries were absolutely great, as well. I normally don't like to get fries all that much, but these were fabulous. They were crispy on the outside, but moist on the inside. The homemade ketchup was tangy and somewhat tart. Overall, it was an outstanding meal.
I like to stay out in the western suburbs of Chicago when I'm in town for more than a couple days, mainly because it's centrally located for the dealers I call on in the area. DMK Burger Bar is about a five mile drive from where I like to stay and I'm sure that there will be more visits to this particular restaurant in the future. It was a burger worth of mention when my updated Best Burger list comes out in 2012. As I said, it was an outstanding burger.