Sandwich: Every Time I Die Burger
Location: Kuma’s Too is the yuppie baby brother of the king of Chicago burger spots, Kuma’s Corner. In the recent years, the Kuma’s brand has been expanding from the original postage stamp sized location in the Avondale neighborhood. Too was the first of these satellite locations, popping up in Lincoln Park at the very metal 666 W. Diversey Ave. address. Opening in 2013, it was met with some skepticism from the restaurants loyalists, as the Lincoln Park area is known more for Lululemon and Starbucks then it is for heavy metal or any real subcultures. While offering relief to the consistently long wait at the original location, it is definitely a toned down version of “Kuma’s Classic”. The music isn’t as loud or heavy, the clientele has less tattoos and more khaki shorts. But the food quality is spot on and you can walk in to open seating. Plus you can show up with a group of more than four and not get laughed out the door.
Ambiance: Let’s compare the Kuma’s locations as metal bands, because that just makes sense. If the original is Number of the Beast by Iron Maiden, Too would be St. Anger by Metallica. The original would be Black Sabbath, Too would be Disturbed. Kuma’s wears EYEHATEGOD shirts, Too shops at Hot Topic. You see what I’m getting at here? It’s still Kuma’s, but it’s a poser try-hard Kuma’s. For every job stopper tattoo at the original location, there is a pair of salmon shorts at Kuma’s Too. But again, this is the price you pay to walk in at 7 PM and be immediately seated. While my hatred of yuppies knows no bounds, nothing will stop me from eating a Kuma’s burger.
The Food: I mean, it’s fucking Kuma’s. If you’ve been, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, you’ve heard of it. If you aren’t familiar with the name, I’m sure you’ve had a friend tell you about the awesome heavy metal burger we’ve got in Chicago. It’s a staple, a pillar of both the food community and the punk/metal scenes. Their lengthy list of metal themed cheeseburgers has enough variety to please any palate. And as someone who’s had almost every item on that list, you really can’t go wrong. Because of my immense familiarity with their normal offerings, I anxiously await the 1st of the month, the glorious day when Kuma’s announces the Burger of the Month at their locations. This past May, the BOTM at Too was the reboot of one of last years favorites, the Every Time I Die.
Originally offered in conjunction with the release of Low Teens and their Chicago House of Blues performance last fall, the ETID burger is an absolute gem. A 10 oz beef patty is topped with tender slices of bourbon braised buffalo, smoked bacon, melty smoked provolone, a deep fried pepperoncini, and a habanero/horseradish aioli. I drooled a little bit just writing that description. It is a rich, savory, decadent burger that is a fitting tribute to Buffalo’s finest thrashers. When I originally heard that they were doing an Every Time I Die burger, I was nervous. If you know the band, you know that they wear their hometown on their sleeve. If you know food, you know the one thing that everyone associates with Buffalo. A buffalo sauce burger would be kind of a cop out. I’m very happy with the direction that the burger barons of Kuma’s went with on this one. If you like meat…and if you’re an active reader of this column you probably do…you’ll love this burger. Just like ETID, it doesn’t fuck around. Keep your eyes peeled, because it’s likely to show up at another Kuma’s location later this year.
Some sandwiches are bad. Some paninis are decent. Kyle reviews them all!