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#1
Posted May 15th 2008, 9:35am
This was in Chicago Magazine's weekly Dish email:

Mindful Meditation
We’re salivating over Epic Burger (517 S. State St.; 312-913-1373), a 75-seat fast casual spot from David Friedman (Blackhawk Lodge) opening May 16th. The menu consists of two burgers, three sandwiches, fresh-cut fries seasoned with sea salt, and little else. Epic burgers ($6), which are fresh ground, hand-packed, and cooked fresh to order, come with handcrafted Wisconsin Cheddar, horseradish Havarti, or buttermilk blue cheese. “The emphasis is on all-natural meat and no artificial preservatives or artificial ingredients,” says Friedman, who gave Epic the tagline “A more mindful burger.” “This is my take on a classic hamburger place, but an updated version,” he says. “It’s a burger place for the new millennium.”

Sounds intriguing. Anyone want to volunteer to be a guinea pig tomorrow?
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#2
Posted May 16th 2008, 3:09pm
I ate there for lunch today with a couple of co-workers who were in the mood for burgers and fries. A longer walk than we usually take for lunch, and we were rewarded with a few major opening-day jitters. We arrived at noon and they were already out of fries. We were each going to do the $10 all in (tax included) special of a burger w/cheese, fries, and a fountain drink. Problem #2, they did not have their fountain installed, so we were forced to go with the higher-priced bottled drinks. They should have at least sold us the bottled drinks for the same price as the fountain, seeing as we had no choice. It's not the 30 cent difference, its the principal of the matter. The final nag was the burgers took a long time to come out and were delivered to our table by a very quiet-voiced non-native english speaking person who was tasked with calling out peoples names to find out where to deliver the burger. Might have been easier if the room wasn't so sound-reflectivly noisy. There also seemed to be a lot of management types wandering around, but no one spoke to us about our experience. Now that we're through all that, the burger was really really good. I had the double, each of my co-workers had the single. You have the option of a whole wheat or white bun (I chose white but got whole wheat), grilled or raw onions, lettuce and tomato. Katsup and mustard are communally available at the trash bins (a minor annoyance of mine).

They have a few issues to work though, but I would go back in a month or so as they do have their burgers right.
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#3
Posted May 17th 2008, 9:41am
Even though I hadn't planned to, I ate at Epic Burger on Friday, their first day.

Chicago Magazine's Dish wrote:Epic burgers ($6), which are fresh ground, hand-packed, and cooked fresh to order, come with handcrafted Wisconsin Cheddar, horseradish Havarti, or buttermilk blue cheese.

Just to clarify, the burgers ($5.99) come with cheese only if you pay 89 cents extra. They also come with a cage-free organic fried egg for another 49 cents. Nitrate-free bacon adds 99 cents.

cybermud wrote:We arrived at noon and they were already out of fries. … The final nag was the burgers took a long time to come out …

No question they were busier than expected and were still working out some significant kinks. I was there a bit after 2pm and it sounds like they already tried to address a few problems in those couple hours. They were serving fries again (I didn't try). A friendly but harried greeter at the door explained it would be a while before they could take more customers. After about 15 minutes I placed my order at the counter (the counter guys apologized repeatedly while I waited). I was pleasantly surprised when my burger arrived a few minutes later.

Image

My main complaint is the burger was cooked to well done (to be fair, I should mention I didn't specify). I'm pretty sure the ghost of a nice burger was still in there. Both the garnishes (grilled onion, lettuce, tomato, pickle and Epic Sauce) and bun were well above average. I'm very curious to see, when things become a little less hectic for the staff, if they're able to deliver a true medium-rare burger. If so, they might really be on to something.

Epic Burger
517 S State St
Chicago
312-913-1373
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#4
Posted May 22nd 2008, 11:03pm
Had my first Epic Burger today and the first thing that came to mind was a higher quality IN-N-OUT hamburger.
Other than being bigger it had the same look as my favorite west coast fast food. The egg bun, and horseradish havarti were
a clear cut above though the grilled onion and tomato were familiar as was the Epic sauce which is just like IN-N-OUT's spread.
I had the single with the havarti, grilled onions, and peppers which were extra. Along with some shared fries and shake it was
a very filling lunch.
The fries were hand cut and pretty good as were the shakes although $3.89 for a shake seems steep to me.
As mentioned above the room is noisy and they are still working the kinks out, but a return visit is in my future.
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#5
Posted May 24th 2008, 1:22pm
Can anyone compare Epic's burgers to the pretty-decent-but-a-buck-or-two-too-expensive ones found nearby at S.R.O. (610 S. Dearborn)?
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#6
Posted May 26th 2008, 1:50pm
GF and I went to Epic Saturday evening before Indiana Jones (I recommend that as well). We both got the "Epic Burger" with cheddar (small upcharge), and chose egg bun over wheat, and raw onions over grilled. We shared a bag of fries and a chocolate shake. The burgers were delicious, juicy and cooked a perfect medium [edit: David said that unless you specify, they will cook the burger medium-well]. The shakes are made with Swiss Gourmet ice cream (you can also get them with yogurt) and tasty-thick. Fries were hand-cut and quite good, not greasy and not overly crispy either.

All in all, quite good. I can't compare it to In-N-Out since I've never been to one, but GF says it's pretty similar but Epic has better quality ingredients. We spoke with the owner, David Friedman, and he told us that he uses Coleman beef from Colorado.

Ambience is quaint and cheery, with orange plastic chairs and formica-top tables. There is a flat-panel TV to watch sports if one chooses (Cubs were on when we were there). It's a very clean place, which I always appreciate. Yes, it's more expensive, but quality ingredients make it a good deal, IMHO.

Check it out, y'all!
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- Mark

Homer: Are you saying you're never going to eat any animal again? What about bacon? Ham? Pork chops?
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Homer: Heh heh heh. Ooh, yeah, right, Lisa. A wonderful, magical animal.
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#7
Posted May 30th 2008, 11:17pm
I grabbed a burger and fries here this afternoon, and was delighted with both. The burger was medium-well, as mentioned upthread, and the horseradish havarti and grilled onions were fabulous (even if the horseradish was a little subtle for my tastes). The fries were tasty, too--I am a fanatic about fresh-cut fries. I can't wait to try other burger combos, and the shakes and smoothies all looked good, too. Has anyone tried the smoothie with lemonade? Piqued my curiousity..

Now if only they'd start offering pretzel rolls.. :)
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#8
Posted June 9th 2008, 3:18pm
Stopped by here last night and had a great burger. Sorta like Steak and Shake on steroids. :)

I had the double with cheese and egg and while I ordered it med rare it was delivered med well. Still a very good and juicy sandwich.

My bride had the pepper and egg sandwich and was surprised when it was served with giardiniera but the giardiniera was mild and lightly applied. She did enjoy her sandwich as well.

Very good! Thanks for the tip!

BTW As in many downtown locations there was a homeless guy outside and instead of change he was saying... "Please. Bring me a Epic Burger on the way out." Not one mention of spare change. :)
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#9
Posted June 11th 2008, 3:23pm
Panther in the Den wrote:BTW As in many downtown locations there was a homeless guy outside and instead of change he was saying... "Please. Bring me a Epic Burger on the way out." Not one mention of spare change. :)

A unique urban shill........

Actually, that is something I most likely would have done.
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#10
Posted June 11th 2008, 5:40pm
While down at the Printers Row Book Fair lectures at the University Center, I wanted to try SRO for their Turkey Burger, as a non-red meat eater, having heard alot about it. Alas, as I was going to lunch, it was pouring, so I decided to try Epic.

And I was glad I did, and will definitely be back.

Turkey Burgers are generally really good or really lousy. Epic hit a triple on this one - nicely seasoned, nice texture, nice toppings and a nice bun. As an added benefit, the hand-cut fries were great and the whole enviro-friendly touch makes it a great spot to grab a really good $10 lunch.
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#11
Posted June 12th 2008, 9:29pm
Evil Ronnie and I strolled over to Epic Burger at 6 and were not in the least impressed. It was empty and the ordering experience was akin to a Saturday Night Live routine. The airhead on duty could not get it right and there was only the 2 of us. I think we must have ordered 6 times. We asked for rare and David Friedman heard us and said "my lawyer won't let me" We could not get an answer about what "epic sauce" was so we just went with it and prayed for the best. Our burgers were so well done we were almost able to nail them on our shoes. The fries, good, but very over-salted. The burgers were very, very dry. We had hoped that a place 2 blocks from our house would be good...suffice it to say...we won't be back. Very disappointing.
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#12
Posted June 12th 2008, 10:05pm
went to Epic Burger based on some people saying it's similar to In N Out. Was pretty disappointed, even without the In N Out comparison.

Overall, pretty mediocre. Would be good in a pinch though. It was interesting, they had all of the same ingredients of In N Out and even the layering order. But I noticed what made it less enjoyable was the size of the burger itself. In N Out singles are not that big but the size of it just feels and tastes right. Does that make any sense? When I bit into the Epic Burger, at first I thought, "hey, pretty close". But as i continued, the charm just got lost. It just wasn't the right proportion or something. Is that odd?

maybe it's just me, the large size of the burger must've messed with my head.
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#13
Posted June 13th 2008, 12:38pm
I really wanted to like this place, it's very near me and I've been longing for something to replace my beloved Diane's uptown since I left NYC. I was very excited when I spotted a new joint with so grand a name right in the hood.

Unfortunately the result was mixed, at best.

My first issue was encountering a little of the pettiness another poster described. I called in my pick-up order - burger and fries, no cheese - in advance. Before paying I asked to add a drink to my order and the clerk wanted to charge me a separate $1.89 + tax for the drink instead of giving me the $10 combo price on the whole meal. "Did you ASK for a combo when you called in?" she demanded to know.

This is a small thing, about a $1 difference, but it made them look petty to be trying to nickle and dime people this way. She should have been telling me about the combo deal instead of trying to conceal it and arguing me down for a higher price. Contrast this attitude with Doug, who actually tries to help his customers out on the soda price. They also forbade me to exit through the rear though there were clear exit signs, saying it was an employee only exit. Okay, no problem.

The burger itself was a mixed blessing. Window dressing was excellent: ripe red tomato, crisp fresh lettuce, fresh, flavorful and nicely grilled egg bun. Unfortunately the burger itself didn't live up to the rest, a real disappointment, very dry, chewy and flavorless. I'd specified medium with pink but I really think it was the meat itself. It was also much too thin for a bun of the thickness and weight of the one it was served on and I'm not sure I'd try a double since the meat was so dry.

Fries were very good, greasy, salty, flavorful and a ton of them (an easy share for two, I couldn't finish more than half the bag). I just wish the star of the show had lived up to the supporting players.
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#14
Posted June 14th 2008, 1:34am
Ate at Epic Burger today and can't imagine i'd ever go back when there is a perfectly amazing Harold's Chicken Shack footsteps away.

I got the double with the horseradish havarti cheese. The cheese was powerful and bold with the requisite zip, but it dominated the burger in my opinion. The patties were moist initially, but they dried noticeably towards the later stages of my dinner. I would imagine that with the patties so thin and the egg bun so thick, you'd be underwhelmed by a single patty.

Neither of my two friends was too impressed. IT's not that it sucked, but it just didn't boggle the mind. . . something we damn near require to give a burger a place in our hearts. I'd eat it again in a pinch, but it won't be a destination spot.

The fries were excellent, but a tad oversalted.

The service got my friends order wrong twice and then came back for his receipt to verify his order. They then lost the receipt and still returned, asking him where he'd put it! lol.

Overall - 7 out of 10.
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#15
Posted June 17th 2008, 10:35am
I was in the South Loop and when all approaches to Manny's by bicycle seemed to have been cut off, I decided to give Epic Burger a try.

If you have really great quality beef then the thing you should come away tasting is beefiness, no? The real, philosophical problem I have here is that the beef taste (at least on a single) is pretty much lost in the special sauce, large leaves of lettuce, gooey grilled onions, fairly substantial bun and everything else. It's certainly possible to come away tasting beef on a thin patty, it really only takes two things (besides beef): grilling it to a crispy exterior and not being afraid to use your salt shaker.

Image
Schoop's, not Epic Burger. For illustration purposes only.

Unfortunately Epic Burger is doing their presumed quality beef a disservice by not cooking it in the way that brings out its virtues (but makes it kind of mushy and gray, as others have observed), and in fact hiding it under all that other stuff (at which point it might as well be a turkey burger for all you'll notice). It's too bad, they are doing a number of things right, but the most important thing of all does not happen to be one of them.

Fries were good, service was fine, burger fries and a froufy lemonade (peach mango, pretty good) was $12 which is pretty damned high (again, the beef better justify that and it doesn't), I'm not wild about the 70s graphic scheme inside but I lived through them and it brings back memories of bad urban planning and Brutalist-school junior highs and all that other stuff when America was most like Bulgaria, so don't mind me.

By the way, the new Cook's Illustrated has a good article on how to make a classic-style drive-in hamburger. Recommended reading... especially if you happen to own a burger joint...
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#16
Posted June 20th 2008, 12:16pm
I had an Epic Burger for lunch yesterday. It was decent, at best. I unfortuantely realized that requesting it medium-rare would be futile when I saw the cook mashing down the patties with all his might on the grill and watching any semblance of moisture evaporate on the flattop. Contrary to previous posts, I couldn't taste the havarti one bit. The fries were good, but I don't think it's worth $10.
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#17
Posted August 16th 2008, 8:53pm
Mike G wrote:If you have really great quality beef then the thing you should come away tasting is beefiness, no? The real, philosophical problem I have here is that the beef taste (at least on a single) is pretty much lost in the special sauce, large leaves of lettuce, gooey grilled onions, fairly substantial bun and everything else. It's certainly possible to come away tasting beef on a thin patty, it really only takes two things (besides beef): grilling it to a crispy exterior and not being afraid to use your salt shaker.


This is exactly the problem we encountered on our first trip. Two of us split the epic burger with chedder, grilled onions, tomato, lettuce, bacon and egg. everything was superltive but not complementary. Another in the group had the same but with the horseradish havarti and raw onions.

In both cases the burger was overpowered. First by the grilled onions and all of the veggies, secondly by the havarti. Also in both cases the burger was cooked too well.

Fortunately I had initially split a burger and unfortunately I am a glutton which led to a third burger. This time a double - rare, raw onions, white bun, chedder, veggies on the side no sauce.
A very good burger indeed. However instead of two pattys I would prefer a larger single patty. If I could get a 1/3rd or 1/2 lb patty and top that with the cage free organic egg and nitrate free bacon then we would be getting somewhere.

As it is I recommend the double cooked less than is normal, onions raw, and no cheese or cheddar. The fries are great and the shakes are worthwhile.
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#18
Posted September 2nd 2008, 10:12pm
Finally got around to trying this yesterday (thank goodness SOMETHING in the South Loop was open on Labor Day). Unfortunately, I wasn't impressed.

The burger was dry and flavorless (I couldn't taste the "epic sauce" at all), the fries were way over-salted, and the chocolate shake I ordered came out vanilla. In the end, I'd waited too damn long as it was, so I took it and left.

If they can't get it right on a night when virtually no one was in there, I don't have much hope for any return visit I might make.

It should also be noted that there was a distinct "ghetto" feel to the place in the way the employees were conducting themselves. A pair of girls were in there making chit-chat with the cashier and a cook, and this was one of those situations where I felt like I could get shot if I spoke up and asked them to take my order. When you're more than slightly nervous ordering a burger, that's never a good thing.
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#19
Posted September 2nd 2008, 10:22pm
cccpr wrote:It should also be noted that there was a distinct "ghetto" feel to the place in the way the employees were conducting themselves. A pair of girls were in there making chit-chat with the cashier and a cook, and this was one of those situations where I felt like I could get shot if I spoke up and asked them to take my order. When you're more than slightly nervous ordering a burger, that's never a good thing.

I tried Epic Burger for the first time on Sunday afternoon and it was nothing like this at all.

My fries were good and the burger had a nice texture, although it wasn't all that flavorful. I thought for a fast food burger it was pretty good.
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"Whatever may be wrong with the world, at least it has some good things to eat." -- Cowboy Jack Clement
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#20
Posted September 4th 2009, 12:58pm
Tried Epic Burger today for the first time. Overpowering sauce and undercooked fries made my visit a failure. Poor execution makes this a one and done for me.
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#21
Posted June 7th 2010, 6:37pm
The new North Ave location (at Sheffield, in the plaza with Peets, Erewhon, etc) was open for business when I passed by today (not the case as recently as a week ago I think). Stopped in for what turned out to be a perfectly fine turkey burger and fries, though I skipped the special sauce (not a thousand island fan). The grilled onions were a nice touch, and, as a pickle lover, I was pleased by the quality of the pickles on the burger. It's nice to have another option for a fast sandwich in that vicinity.
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#22
Posted June 14th 2011, 9:49am
I ate at the brand new Epic Burger on west Adams yesterday for lunch after a coworker gave me a tip that it was now open.

Even after reading the ho-hum reports about the other locations in this thread, I had high expectations. I suppose I can't help but to get excited about something "Epic" - and a new burger joint within walking distance of my office is always exciting.

It was good, but not great. It honestly seemed like they were trying to clone Miner Dunn's burger and fries, without doing such a good job.

The burger was nice, but they refused to cook it anything besides well done - a manager was near the counter when I ordered and confirmed they couldn't do anything else. The fries were fresh, but soggy and not crisp on the edges or ends. I'm willing to bet the fries will be better on any other day (opening day bugs, I understand). The real stand-out was the bun - fluffy, not too dense, and buttered and toaster in a way that would make Culver's proud. (And, of course, Miner Dunn will always win in the end because of the free ice cream or orange sherbet)

I'll take one for the team and go back next week to see if they've ironed out their opening day jitters. :P

Epic Burger
550 West Adams
Chicago, IL
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#23
Posted April 22nd 2012, 1:50pm
a friend brought me an epic burger today for lunch. it was extremely thin, holey, gray and tasteless. truly, one of the worst burgers ever. i had high hopes as i want to support a place with non factory farmed beef, but i'm not giving them a return visit.
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#24
Posted April 22nd 2012, 4:55pm
a friend brought me an epic burger today for lunch. it was extremely thin, holey, gray and tasteless. truly, one of the worst burgers ever. i had high hopes as i want to support a place with non factory farmed beef, but i'm not giving them a return visit.


I've never been too impressed with Epic Burger, either. Stick to Edzo's. 8)
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#25
Posted April 23rd 2012, 1:46pm
With all the negativity in this thread informing some preconceived notions of what to expect, I finally made my first visit to the Epic Burger on E Pearson (Streeterville) last week. I have to say, I'm not sure if it was the low expectations or if they've made strong improvement, but I thought the burger was excellent. It seems people upthread are expecting a more thick patty, but I dont think thats what EB is striving for. My burger was diner grill, but still pretty juicy and flavorful and I enjoyed it fully. The fries were decent, if not oversalted. I'd return for sure.
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#26
Posted April 24th 2012, 4:02pm
Commbrkdwn wrote:With all the negativity in this thread informing some preconceived notions of what to expect, I finally made my first visit to the Epic Burger on E Pearson (Streeterville) last week. I have to say, I'm not sure if it was the low expectations or if they've made strong improvement, but I thought the burger was excellent. It seems people upthread are expecting a more thick patty, but I dont think thats what EB is striving for. My burger was diner grill, but still pretty juicy and flavorful and I enjoyed it fully. The fries were decent, if not oversalted. I'd return for sure.

I like both thin and thick burgers. I live around the corner from Bill's in Evanston, which does an excellent version of those diner grill/30s style/whatever you want to call it burgers.

My most recent trip to Epic [South Loop location] will be my last, though--the burger was so overcooked that the edges were crunchy. Yech.
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