Okay, this burger stage I’m going through could be akin to a mid-life crisis. Maybe I’m looking to the juicy beef to fill some sort of emptiness elsewhere in my life. Or maybe burgers are just great and I live in a great burger town and having one burger a week is perfectly normal. Crisis averted! Moving on.
We have some TV stars amongst our hamburger culture here folks. Paradise Pup is famous enough to have been in an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. I can’t find an official website, which isn’t surprising, but follow that link it will give you whole back story on this place. It’s small, crowded, and off the beaten path, and great.
I’ve been here twice in the last few months and been torn both times. The quandary: My norm is to order the house condiment stack that comes free so I can compare it to other burgers, but these guys have this Merkts cheddar burger that I want to try. Since I’m in the midst of this comparison stage, I just went with the bare minimum; I had the single, 1/3 lb burger with the posted standard of ketchup, mayo, pickle, tomato, and grilled or raw onions (did raw once and grilled once, love the free grilled).
It’s near perfect. We’ll get to that.
So my buddies and I finished 18 holes at The Bridges of Poplar Creek (great golf, review forthcoming) a few Saturdays ago and made the detour to Des Plaines for this place. We hit it at about 10:45 and there were maybe seven or eight people milling around waiting for the 11:00 opening. By the time we got our food at around 11:15, the line was out the door to the back of the building, maybe 20 people. Remember, this place is only open from 11–5 Monday through Saturday. But man, they churn out a lot of burgers.
We ate it on the picnic tables outside, which is the best option. They have maybe five seats inside. It’s small, really small. I guess during the winter time it’s just a takeout place huh? It’s gotta be.
Let’s talk bun first. They describe it with words like “egg twist” and “bakery fresh,” both of which are highly accurate. It’s fluffy yet very substantial. I think this bun could hold up to a double without batting an eye, which may make you think it could overpower a single 1/3 lb patty. Looking at it, that was my impression, but I was wrong.
I actually think the bun contributes to a perfect, no-mess burger even with pickles, raw onions, and tomato. I picked this thing up and put it down multiple times and it stayed together with zero condiment leakage. It’s a tribute to the dude who prepared as much as it is to the bun. They place the condiments meticulously, perfectly centered and using natural juice barriers. I had zero lower bun saturation. Zero.
It’s quality beef, never frozen, and perfectly uniform.
It may be hand-packed, but I missed a little of that hand-packed randomness. You can’t have it both ways though. I’m guessing that the burger maker is just as conscientious as the condiment placer. Everything is sized perfectly, including even the tomato slice and the raw onion. It’s a joy to eat and could easily be consumed in the presence of a really attractive member of the opposite sex.
The crinkle-cut fries are great and the shakes are decent. It’s hard to get my head around where this ranks. I’m going to get all of these in a list and rank them, but I need some time to reflect.
This is a must-visit if you’re a burger hound. Just do it.