For a city known for hot dogs, Chicago has certainly been flirting with burgers lately. In the past couple of months Chicago has added two high profile burger joints to the city’s roster of restaurants. Recently Shake Shack has been stealing the spotlight, but Umami Burger (an import from Los Angeles) arrived first.
Umami Burger worked its way onto my radar when it started regularly popping up on my instagram feed. Shortly thereafter, a reader emailed me to say that I need to go try the Pumpkin Spice Latte Burger at Umami. When a reader takes the time to send in an email – I know that I need to pay the restaurant a visit.
Umami Burger is located on a stretch of Milwaukee Avenue in Wicker Park that has recently been brought to life with several new restaurant openings. A large neon sign identifies the restaurant to passersby. Inside, the space has a large wooden bar to the right, booths along the walls, and freestanding tables in the center of the room. It is a casual, yet welcoming space. It gives off the vibe of a neighborhood hangout where all the locals know each other.
I was dining solo that evening so I grabbed a seat at the bar and followed the exact directions I was given, and ordered the Pumpkin Spice Latte Burger. Yes, at first it sounds unusual, but when I read that the burger was topped with mascarpone and tempura kabocha squash, I was sold. A pumpkin spice glaze is drizzled over the top. Upon tasting the burger, you first notice the pumpkin spice flavoring. It isn’t overpowering, but it is there. Then you begin to notice the toppings. The creamy mascarpone and crispy kabocha squash compliment the juicy beef well.
The Pumpkin Spice Latte Burger is a seasonal menu item that will be available through the end of the year. While the Pumpkin Spice Latte Burger is a cheeky nod to how obsessed people are with Pumpkin Spice Lattes, it needed to earn its place on the menu by being just as good as the other burgers on the menu. Everything at Umami burger is served a la carte and they offer fries and smushed potatoes that can be paired with the restaurants trio of house-made sauces (jalapeño ranch, garlic aioli, and ketchup).
In typical fashion, I ordered more food than I could eat, so I brought home leftovers. This gave me the opportunity to have my unsuspecting husband to blindly taste the Pumpkin Spice Latte Burger. I was curious to see if he would like it, and if he would understand what it was. He didn’t guess that the burger was flavored with pumpkin spice, perhaps because he doesn’t drink the lattes, but he loved the burger – proving that even if the lattes aren’t your thing, the burger might be.
Umami Burger is located at 1480 North Milwaukee Avenue, a short walk from the Damen blue line stop. They do not accept reservations.