Sunday, August 15, 2010

Have you been to Burt's Place or Kuma's Corner?

Q: Can food live up to its hype?
A: In the case of a particular pizza and burger joint, no question yes.

After reading the Yelp reviews of Burt's Place, I would not have been surprised if I was asked, "What's the password?" upon entry. The reviews are entertaining in their own right - almost as good as it's pizza. Almost. Burt, of "Burt's Place," is lovingly compared to the "Soup Nazi" character from Seinfeld. The association is from the operators' extreme ordering guidelines.

Imagine a pizza place that does not accept walk in business. Imagine a pizza place where all orders are called in about 24 hours in advance. Imagine a pizza place when they sit you already knowing what you are ordering and serve every single slice to you personally. That should create a nice canvas from which you can paint a picture of the experience of Burt's Place. The actual image of the picture - you'll just have to go there and eat the pizza to get that info.

For years I had heard of the allure of this hidden gem of Morton Grove. Finally, after a friend of mine had been taken there by another - he organized a campaign. I won't go out and say it's my A#1 favorite pizza of all time, but it was great beyond expectation (and the expectations from those Yelp reviews was rather high).
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I also heard many friends talk up Kuma's Corner (Yelp reviews here) as being the best burger place in Chicago. The hardship attributed to this place revolves around the constant demand creating long wait times (one hour is considered a short, if not normal, wait time). Last September I had stupidly attempted to eat there. The attempt was stupid because I had given myself an impossible small time window to try it (I could not wait 90 minutes that evening, had to get to The Bowling Party of Lebowski Fest).

Similar to the Burt's Place experience, it was a friend who has pushed the Kuma's initiative. To paraphrase it was like a I'm going to Kuma's on Thursday - I don't care how long it takes, you in? This friend is also a kickball teammate, and we have been walking by Kuma's Corner nearly every Thursday since April looking at the many people impatiently (newcomers) and patiently (veterans) waiting outside. We'd constantly remark at how good that place must be to have as many people willing to wait. Our curiosity about its hype finally reached its tipping point.

It was, without question, the best burger I have ever had. No contest. Also as nearly amazing was it's low cost of just $10 for an extremely large (and of gigantic quality) burger.
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Yes, I'm not mentioning exactly what I had at both places. This post is more about the reputation of these two establishments, and how in both cases they performed beyond their charged task.

Go there. Go to both places. You can thank me later.

I plan on taking the same two people that were with me at Kuma's Corner to Burt's place before this month ends (both have never been to Burt's before). I think I'll be going back to Kuma's Corner next in September (LF is coming back!).


  1. I used to live around the corner from kumas. i like it except it is so loud and they dont have any normal ketchup. only their pepper infused kind.

  2. I've been to Kumas several times - you didn't talk about how they name their burgers after metal hands though!

  3. Metal "bands" that is.