1321 West Taylor Street, Chicago IL 60607 (map); 312-243-1577; threeaceschicago.com
Cooking Method: Grilled
Short Order: Order the Ace Burger easy on the bacon jam, and it's one great burger.
Price:Ace Burger, $13; add bolognese to fries, $3
Multiple people have told me that the burger at Three Aces is, well, aces (see what I did there?). I wanted to see if my mouth agreed with them, so I headed down to University Village with Betty, my beat up, broke-ass looking Honda. But when I first set foot into Three Aces, I was immediately miffed at the fact that the place was pitch black, which meant that taking photos of the food would not be easy. In fact, I almost turned around and walked away.
But then I noticed that all the televisions were pumping out a foreign film (read: softcore porn), and so I was convinced to stay. It was a difficult decision. If you think a nice red wine or a crisp beer is a perfect pairing for a hamburger, you'd be wrong. Apparently, it's boobies. So, now faced with the issue of darkness ruining my chance at photos, I scoped out the rest of the place with no luck—except for the well-lit photo booth in the corner.
Yes, my friends, I took my plate and ran off into the photo booth, which is either the saddest thing I've ever done, or the most awesome thing I've ever done. Either way, that's commitment. The Ace Burger ($13), the only burger on the menu, is a hulking grilled beast on a pretzel bun, topped with aged cheddar, bacon jam, aioli, lettuce, and red onion. The menu also says it's supposed to come with some heirloom tomato, which was missing, but since we're way out of tomato season I think that's a safe bet.
Check this bad boy out. I received it as requested, medium rare. I realize the picture makes it look raw in the middle, but before you get up in arms about it, it was spot on for my tastes. The outside of the patty has a really impressive crust from the grill, in the best way possible, and is well salted, beefy, and juicy. The pretzel bun has noticeable hash marks from the grill, which is a terrific detail, and the bottom bun actually holds up to the valuable onslaught of burger juice.
The toppings are bold—the aged cheddar is strong, sharp, and funky, almost like blue cheese, and while the aioli's flavor gets lost in the battle, it adds silky fat to each bite. But the topping that I'm torn about is the bacon jam. Yes, it's delicious, delicious, bacon. However, it's also salty, salty, bacon. With a well-salted burger, the addition of salty and smoky bits and pieces puts the salt level over the top for me. I suggest ordering the bacon jam on the side so you can control the volume of the sodium, otherwise it gets pretty noisy.
And the topping you see on the accompanying fries is a rich and meaty bolognese (+$3), which is a fun topping for the hand-cut fries, kind of like an Italian coney sauce. The hand-cut fries are otherwise great by themselves, and they come with a side of housemade ketchup and aioli, which is just as good if you're not in the mood for more meat.
I'd totally come back to Three Aces for boobies, burgers, and bolognese, I'd just dial back on the bacon. And I think I should bring food into a photo booth more often. See below.
About the author: After a failed attempt at starting a chain of theme restaurants called "Smellen Keller," Dennis Lee traveled the world to discover his true passion. Sadly, midwifery didn't pan out. Now he works in a cubicle, and screws around as much as possible. Follow his shenanigans on Twitter.