Hackney’s – Lake Zurich, Illinois (CLOSED)

Signage that’s familiar throughout the Chicago area

The second city doesn’t take a back seat to anyone when it comes to burgers and if you have to hire a hackney (carriage or automobile) to get to Hackney’s, by all means do so. Hackney’s, a family tavern with a history dating back to the 1920s has a half dozen franchises throughout the Chicago area and features burgers worth going out for on a Windy City day.

The eponymous Hackney burger on dark rye and Hackney’s bleu cheese burger stand out! In fact, the Food Network’s “Best Of” show named the Hackney burger as one of America’s best burgers. Michael and Jane Stern waxed poetic about the Hackney Burger in their book, Eat Your Way Across America. It’s truly a special burger. The dark rye has a fresh, out-of-the-oven taste to it while the beef patty is succulent and prepared the way you like it. At medium, it’s got plenty of pink for that juiciness all great burgers need. Mustard is the only condiment you need, but each burger comes with fresh tomatoes, leafy lettuce and succulent onions.

The capacious Alpine cabin which houses Hackney’s in Lake Zurich, Illinois

For an added treat, order the fried onion loaf, a prodigious brick of tangled, fried sweet onions. Those golden brown onions just might be the best you’ve ever had even if they are a bit messy. Don’t dare desecrate these pearlescent onions with ketchup or any other condiment; they’re as close to perfect as you’ll ever find in an onion ring. Hackney’s crinkled fries are well seasoned and invariably delicious.

Hackneys has a full-service menu that includes a variety of sandwiches and comfort foods. An absolute “must have” is Hackney’s coleslaw which is made with a tangy horseradish. It’s the kind of coleslaw you remember for a long time and can’t wait to have again. Another favorite, perhaps attributable to Chicago’s proximity to Wisconsin, is the bratz with German cabbage. Bratz, a nicely seasoned Germanic sausage is a veritable religion in the Milwaukee area.

Hackney’s isn’t necessarily known for salads, but during a June, 2005 visit, we had a masterpiece of a salad–leafy spinach, in-season strawberries, caramelized walnuts and a raspberry vinaigrette dressing to crown it all. To wash down an excellent meal, try the Green River lime soda, Chicago’s original lime soda, brewed since 1919.

My brother-in-law Chuck, a fellow gourmand, lives within half a mile of Hackney’s and for that we’re ever so grateful.

880 N. Old Rand Road
Lake Zurich, Illinois
LATEST VISIT: 23 November 2005
COST: $$
BEST BET: The Hackney Burger, Blue Cheese Burger, Onion Rings

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