The 10 best burgers in Chicago for $12 or less

By Lauren Mandel

Royale With Cheese from The Bad Apple

There’s nothing more American than a burger and a beer. But while a decent cold one isn’t hard to come by, finding an equally delicious—and affordable—burger can be a bit more difficult. Any restaurant can put a cheeseburger on their menu, but few rise to the level of true greatness. For bold variations you won’t soon forget—from a traditional beef patty to one made with fresh salmon—these 10 spots deliver our favorite Chicago burgers under $12.

Royale With Cheese from The Bad Apple
You may not think reinventing the wheel is necessary when it comes to cheeseburgers, but this variation from The Bad Apple begs to differ. Truffle (yep) compound butter melts perfectly with Gruyère cheese and trumpet royale mushrooms on top of a bed of arugula. The combination might sound over-the-top rich, but we have faith you can finish the whole thing.

The Fatboy from Twisted Spoke
Don’t let the bikers intimidate you—there’s a reason they gather at Twisted Spoke, and it’s because of the good ole fashioned pub grub served here for over 20 years. They call their huge, juicy burgers “Fatboys,” and you can customize yours with grilled onions, bacon, Gouda cheese, and more—all at no extra cost.

The cheeseburger from Abigail’s
We’re going all the way to the northern suburbs for this one—and a kitchen full of culinary experts in Highland Park clearly spent time perfecting it. From the soft bun to the perfectly griddled patty to the onion marmalade layered on top, everything about this burger screams perfection. The only catch? Securing a reservation at this always-packed restaurant.

Chickpea burger from Rockit
Vegetarians, we didn’t forget about you. Often seen as an afterthought on the menu, the veggie burger at Rockit won’t leave you feeling neglected. Chickpeas give the burger base some substance, and toppings like feta cheese, spicy aïoli, and fresh tomatoes give it that familiar burger look and feel.

Classic pub burger from Brehon Pub
Brehon Pub is the corner pub (literally, it’s on a corner) you know and trust, and their burger is everything that a pub burger should be. Made with pure Angus steak, it’s hearty, it’s comforting, and it’s one of the most affordable options on this list, coming in at under $10. And you can add a side of their mac and cheese for just $1.

Bacon burger at Portillo's
If your go-to order at Portillo’s is a hot dog or Italian beef, it’s about time you switched things up. There’s really no better deal in the city (what can you buy for less than $6 these days?), and their formula is always reliable and classic: thick cuts of bacon, mayo, crisp lettuce, and a ripe red tomato slice on a freshly toasted old-fashioned style bun. This char-broiled juicy burger weighs 1/3 pound before cooking–and don’t forget an order of their equally famous cheese fries.

Sustainably farmed salmon burger from Butcher & the Burger
Check this out when you’ve reached your red meat limit. While a salmon burger might seem hoity toity, you have to give this one a try before jumping to conclusions. They’ll also customize it to your liking; looking for something more rustic and creative? Complete the burger with toppings like Sriracha mayo or black truffle aïoli.

Craft Your Own burger from 25 Degrees
Who can say no to a build-your-own burger bar? With the “bare-bones” offering coming in at just $10 (including lettuce, onion, tomato, and pickles all on the side), you’re free to choose a few add-ons for just $1 more each. Some of the toppings can only be found at 25 degrees, like the hatch green chiles and jalapeño bacon, while others are classics you can’t deny, like caramelized onions.

Oyster po’ boy sliders from GT Fish & Oyster
These kimchi-topped sliders aren’t for the faint of heart. They definitely pack a punch, but the flavors are undeniably addictive. The oyster po’ boy sliders come one to an order, and they’re the perfect add-on to the rest of what you’ll inevitably order from the fantastic GT Fish & Oyster menu.

Turkey burger from Old Town Social
Any restaurant that specializes in charcuterie boards is a restaurant we trust, especially when it comes to meat. So it’s no surprise that the turkey burger from Old Town Social is a standout. The ground turkey is local and organic, and there’s both beer mustard and ranch on top of the patty. Served alongside lettuce, tomato and homemade OTS aioli, it’s a match made in condiment heaven.

Craft Your Own burger from 25 Degrees

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