I am not your typical foodie. In fact, I hate that term. I love food, and finding good food. I’m not up with what’s hip. I get overwhelmed with trying to research places. So, I rely on word of mouth from friends, magazines, and the like. Such is the case with Kuma’s Corner, recommended to me by my friend Steve. He left me a note that if I wanted a better burger than Red Robin to go check out this small pub on the corner of Belmont and Francisco Avenues. And now, I write this review with great trepidation, because I almost want to help keep this place a secret. It was so good that I don’t want to share.
I did some searching around online and discovered that they were voted the best pub burger in Chicago by Time Out Magazine. And after being there, it’s easy to see why; their burgers are all named after metal bands, and the toppings selection range from 4-Cheese to egg covered to bleu cheese dressing with walnuts, apples and cranberries. But the variety isn’t the draw (although it is a great variety), it’s the fact that Kuma’s Corner serves up some of the best food with some of the friendliest service we’ve ever seen.
Steve warned me that the earlier we could get there, the better, because it fills up quickly. We arrived around 5, and thankfully the place was pretty much empty. Mostly it was regulars hanging out at the bar bullshitting with each other, metal music playing overhead.
I hate bars. I hate the crowd and the shouting and the claustrophobia of the entire atmosphere. But Kuma’s, at least during the afternoon/early evening, is a place I could see myself walking to for a drink. I’ve always preferred the pub idea to the American bar scene. Give me a place with old Englishmen and dark corners any day of the week. So, needless to say, I was enamored before we even ordered.
We skipped the appetizers and went directly for the burgers. This was partly because there wasn’t a vegetarian thing to be found for an appetizer, and partly because we were ravenous for our metal burgers. Our waitress, tattooed and pierced like all the staff, told us not to worry; the beer and burger menu could be overwhelming to newcomers. I asked her for her favorite burger, and she told me she loved the Dark Throne if she was feeling particularly masochistic. She said she loved hot foods, but that even makes her sweat. I silently wept, because that was my burger of choice, but my stomach wasn’t in the mood for a 5-Alarm rumble. I, instead, ordered the Iron Maiden, a burger (of the gardenburger variety in my case) topped with avocado, cherry peppers, pepper jack cheese, and chipotle mayo. I asked for “frizzled” onions on mine, because anytime you can add deep fried onions to something, the better a time will be had. I also ordered a Three Floyds Alpha King, since it was on draft, and highly recommended by our friend Brook. Katie ordered the Pig Destroyer, which was as the name says. It was a pulled pork sandwich with BBQ sauce. Her drink of choice was the Rogue “Dead Guy.”
After a slight wait, the burgers came out, and the Pavlovian dog in us couldn’t wait to dig in. We had forgotten the burgers were also served on a pretzel roll. Hot holy damn, those fresh pretzel rolls tasted good.
And the burgers. Oh the burgers. They were, and I don’t say this often because I hate the word, divine. I still don’t like that word. Scratch that. They were godly. They were also huge. I couldn’t even see my burger under the pile of frizzled onions. Katie’s burger had so much pork she had to eat her sandwich open faced, with a fork and knife, although there are photos of her trying her damndest to eat it normally. My burger had just the right amount of kick and crunch. The avocado was fresh, and provided a nice counterbalance to the spice of the peppers. I was worried the mayo would be noticeable, but luckily for this mayo hater that wasn’t the case. It instead added a nice third level of spice to the burger. And as I said, you can’t go wrong with fried onions.
…she told me she loved the Dark Throne if she was feeling particularly masochistic…
The French fries were cut and seasoned potatoes, prepared fresh. Not quite steak fries, but thicker than the stringy McDonald’s variety, they were also quite tasty. The only problem I noticed was they went from hot to cold rather quickly.
The waitress talked us into dessert as well, which was a 4-Layer chocolate cake in our case. There was a small mix-up in the kitchen, making us a wait a bit. The chef thought she ordered a Slayer burger, and not a Layer cake. She apologized, and bullshitted with us a bit about the silliness of the situation, which made me like the place even more. The cake, by the way, was tasty, but not amazing. I wasn’t expecting much though, because it’s a freakin’ pub. I came there for the burgers. The cake was just a nice topper to the dinner.
I told Katie that I’ve haven’t been so satiated after a meal in a very long time. Not only was the food amazing, but so were the service and the ambience. I can see why the people in the neighborhood want to keep this place a secret. I’d be down there every afternoon myself if I lived in the area. It felt like a part of home, which is definitely not something I say often. I can’t wait to get back there.
2900 W. Belmont Ave.
Chicago, IL 60618