Chicago SMAK: Umami Burger

Recently my cousin Britta, from Britta Marie Photography, and I checked out the newly opened Umami Burger in Chicago's Wicker Park. With locations in California, New York, Nevada, and most recently Illinois, this burger joint is not so ordinary. What started as a single restaurant in LA has expanded to over 20 locations. And if you do your homework, you will learn one thing quickly: this place has a buzz about it.


"For what, exactly? Here are the specs: The meat is “premium choice” steak, coarsely ground and patted softly into a loose six-ounce round, the texture nostalgically reminiscent of meatloaf. This is seared on a plancha grill, whose surface concentrates heat like a cast-iron skillet. The bun is Portuguese in style, vaguely sweet. (Don’t ask who supplies the meat or the bread. They won’t tell you.)"*

In a Spring 2013 New York magazine article, restaurateur Adam Fleischman said, "Burger chains like Shake Shack are all designed the same. The food is all designed to taste the same. We don't do that. Each of our restaurants has its own character. We want our customers to have a unique experience. We wanted to be a restaurant group, not a chain."

After doing a little reading up, I decided that it was time to make an opinion of my own.


Umami offers it's diners a number of burger options including:

MANLY BURGER beer-cheddar, bacon lardons, smoked-salt onion strings, Umami house ketchup, mustard spread

THE ORIGINAL Parmesan frico, shiitake mushroom, roasted tomato, caramelized onions, Umami house ketchup

B.U.B. two patties!! bacon, beer-cheddar, minced onions, pickles, mustard, Umami house ketchup, served tall with a middle bun

TRUFFLE BURGER truffled aioli, house truffle cheese, truffle glaze

CALABRESE BURGER calabrese sausage patty, truffled aioli, house truffle cheese, Chicago style giardiniera

These are only a few of the burger options. There are even meatless options for all of you vegetarians out there. Don't worry, they didn't forget about you. Looking at the menu again, I am only reminded of how many times I am going to have to go back in order to try everything. Although, I am well prepared that I will have a difficult time resisting the Truffle Burger...


The instant I saw the words "truffle burger" I knew I was in trouble. I have a weakness for truffles. The simple scent or sight of one makes me go weak in my knees. Was the truffle cheese greasy and over the top? Yes. Did my stomach do a few somersaults afterwards? Yes. Was it all worth it for the amazing flavors? Absolutely. You cannot go into eating a truffle burger without expecting an incredibly rich meal. However, I would have to say that Umami is spot on in their delivery. My only complaint? I wish that the burger was a little larger - I wanted more.

If it hasn't been evident enough, I am wholeheartedly behind Umami Burger. The restaurant is confident in their style, aesthetics and flavors and that is what makes it so appealing.