I've driven by a new place on Touhy Ave. in the North Chicago suburb of Skokie a couple three times over the past year by the name of M Burger. The metal framed building was sort of intriguing to me, but the clincher was the place's name. One time on a recent trip into Chicago, I had passed it and decided to go back and see what it was all about.
It turns out that M Burger is part of the uber-conglomerate of Chicago area restaurants, the Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises (LEYE) group. Started in 1971 by Rich Melman, Lettuce Entertain You has a firm hold on the restaurant landscape in the Chicago area. Scott Barton and Randy Brand were LEYE managing partners in charge of restaurants such as Osteria Via Strato and Nacional 27. When award winning chef and managing partner Rick Tramonto left the highly acclaimed Tru in 2010, Barton and Brand took over management of that location for Lettuce Entertain You. The highly sought after chef's table in Tru was no longer being used, so Barton and Brand turned the space - along with an old pastry kitchen - into the first M Burger later that year.
From the start, M Burger was designed to be spartan in decor offering customers a quick place to grab a burger without a lot of atmosphere or frills. M Burger sources their beef from Buedel Fine Meats, a popular meat purveyor located in south suburban Bridgeview. Their milk and cream for their delicious milk shakes and ice cream comes from Fox Valley Farms, a specialty dairy in far-west suburban Aurora. Today, there are six M Burger locations around the Chicago area - four downtown, one in the Chicago Premium Outlets mall in Aurora, and the one I went to in Skokie.
The M Burger in Skokie was opened in 2014, the fourth one of the six that are now open. It's is located on W. Touhy Ave. about 3/4's of a mile off the Edens Expressway. (see map) It's a little confusing to get into the place - you have to turn into the entrance of the Wal Mart parking lot at the light in front of M Burger, then turn left to get into their parking lot. The M Burger features a drive-thru lane and the building, itself, isn't all that big.
The drill at M Burger is that you order at the counter and they'll either bring your food out to you, or call your name if it's busy. The menu is very basic - they have a hamburger, cheeseburger, an M burger with bacon, cheese, and a mayo-based sauce, or a Hurt burger topped with pepper jack cheese and a spicy barbecue sauce. All burgers come as singles, but for a dollar more you can get double patties. They also feature health-conscious items such as a ground turkey burger, something called a Chicken Betty that is a grilled chicken breast with avocado, tomato and pepper jack cheese, or a vegetarian sandwich that is called the Nurse Betty without the chicken breast.
Dining in at M Burger is not a spectacular option. The "L"-shaped dining room is narrow with double and single booths. Garage doors open in warmer months to a narrow outdoor eating area. No, it's pretty utilitarian as far as the decor goes with M Burger.
The guy who took my order at the counter brought out my burger. The burger was wrapped in light wax paper and came on a plastic tray with no plate or silverware. Once again, it was relatively no frills.
I ordered the M burger with everything - that included the bacon, American cheese, and mayo sauce, as well as a tomato slice with a thick lettuce leaf. The burger patties are flat-grilled and the bun is toasted. The burger patties aren't all that large, but they were thick making this a good sized burger.
The burger was actually very tasty. The beef patties were cooked to a medium temperature with a bit of pink in the middle. They were juicy and tasted great. The bun held together very well given all that was going on with the juicy burger and the sauce. The tomato was fresh, as was the lettuce. The cheese and the bacon were a great accompaniment to the overall taste of the burger. But it was messy - it was, at least, a five napkin burger.
M burger gets a "thumbs up" from me in regard to the taste and quality of the burger. If you're looking to get a beer with the burger, well, you can't. Want specialty toppings like roasted peppers, jalapenos, or garlic aioli? Nope, not gonna get it. Want to relax on comfortable seating catching up with friends? You're going to be disappointed. M Burger's concept is to get you in, have a very good burger, and send you on your way. And if you understand that going in - as I learned on my visit - it will make the whole M Burger experience more enjoyable for you.