My wife likes to take weekend road trips up to Galena from time to time. I don't mind going if the weather is nice and one recent weekend day we decided to head up to Galena to just get out of town for a few hours. It was getting to be around lunch time and even though we were still full from breakfast, we decided to grab a burger at Durty Gurt's, a burger joint along Galena's Main Street. (see map)
The "Durty Gurt" of the place is a fictitious old lady character that seems to be void of teeth. The burger joint is owned by Deanne Anderson who felt there was a need for a good burger in the downtown tourist area of Galena. She opened the place in 2007 and it has garnered a reputation for having one of the better burgers in the area. (There's a place down the street that also touts their burgers as being the best in Galena. We may have to go back at some point and try their burger.) In 2014, Thrillist named Durty Gurt's as having one of the 17 best burgers in the state of Illinois. (I've now eaten in 10 of the 17 places on that list.)
We got into Durty Gurt's around 1:30 and it was still pretty busy from all the people who were in Galena that particular day. In the vestibule as you come in, you get an idea of the tone of the place as they have three toilets - one with fake flowers coming out of the top of the tank - with a sign over them that said, "Reserved Seating for Stool Pigeons and Crybabys". The bar area as you walk into the place has a large neon "Durty Gurt's" sign over the bar.
We were greeted by a young lady who seated us in the middle dining area of Durty Gurt's. One the fake board walls were whimsical phrases like "I never went to bed with an ugly person, but I woke up with a few", "We never make misteaks" and "I never worry when I get lost, I just change where I'm going". Groaning and head-shaking attempts at humor for a restaurant has never been one of my favorite things.
While we were there to get a burger, there's more on the menu at Durty Gurt's if you're not up for a burger. They also have sandwiches, salads, grilled chicken or tuna melts, breaded seafood entrees and ribs. Their burgers consist of one such as the City Diner burger that is topped with cheddar cheese, bacon, a fried egg and a housemade mayo; the Blue Moon burger that featured portobello mushrooms, blue cheese and bacon on a pretzel bun; and the Tombstone burger that was topped with cheddar and pepper jack cheese, grilled onion, bacon and a barbecue sauce with onion rings on top of the burger bun.
Durty Gurt's also featured a couple of "food challenge-type" burgers including the "Woo! Wop! The Bam!" that had four half-pound burger patties that are topped with bacon, cheddar cheese and a housemade mayo; and the "Belly Buster" which had two half-pound burger patties topped with bacon, cheddar cheese, handcut French fries and their housemade mayo with onion rings on top of the bun. They also had a burger that was nestled between two glazed donuts instead of a bun.
Cindy and I went pretty simple - we just went with a simple cheddar cheese burger. She got handcut fries to go along with her burger and I helped her eat some of them. The half-pound burger featured a toasted split top bun and came with sliced red onions, dill pickles, a slice of tomato, shredded lettuce and the housemade mayo.
The burger was actually very good - it was cooked medium with a hint of pink in the middle. The bun was spongy and held together very well with each bite. The cheddar cheese had a great forward taste and went well with the burger. I'd have to say compared to the other burgers I've had on Thrillist's "17 Best Burgers in Illinois" list that Durty Gurt's acquitted themselves very well.
While others might like it, I didn't care for the schlocky decor all that much. But I was able to get well past that and enjoy the burger they served us at Durty Gurt's. The young lady who was our server did a fine job and other than the obnoxious fake graffiti there wasn't any bad things to say about Durty Gurt's. The burger was very good and it truly may be the best in Galena.