In Naperville, there are plenty of places to get a burger, but very few that will put pineapple on the All-American Classic. The fruity yellow ring is the staple of Meatheads Burgers and Fries’ Hawaiian burger, one of the restaurant’s six chef-inspired creations.
Meatheads represents the gourmet burger segment of the restaurant industry, which generated $2.2 billion in 2011, a 21% growth from the previous year. For the restaurant at 75th Street and Fort Hill Drive, freshness and quality is the name of the game.
“I think people are looking for high quality, all-natural sorts of products,” said Joe Sanders, Marketing Manager for the restaurant chain. “People are very familiar with eating burgers and fries…(We try to) turn it upside down and kind of say, ‘Well we can do that too, but we’re (going to) do it the old fashioned way.’”
Fresh, never frozen Certified Angus Beef and daily fresh-cut fries are apart of the old-fashioned way. The new twist is seen in the more than 20 toppings and sauces that a customer can use to customize their burger.
An/d the customers seem to enjoy it. Woodridge residents Joe and Diana Scroggins brought grandkids Skylar and Dakota to Meatheads for a Wednesday afternoon lunch. The quartet is sure they’ll be back.
“Before we only had McDonalds, and you go in there…and the burger’s sitting there in the tray, (it’s) been there for 20 or 30 minutes,” Joe Scroggins said.
“All they do is pick it up and give it to you. But here, you come here, they make it and they give it to you. It’s a lot different.”
Crosstown Pub and Grill, located on Naperville’s north side, is known throughout Chicagoland for its buffalo wings. But the restaurant’s gourmet burgers have been turning heads as well. For chef and owner Jim Nichols, the theme is simple.
“The layers of flavor, that’s the key,” said Nichols. “Because you can have a burger plain anywhere. But then to layer it in different flavors, exciting flavors, things that you wouldn’t get elsewhere. That’s the key.”
Nichols and his staff have a rotating burger menu throughout the year, with plenty of tastes to choose from. The Winnemucca, Nevada burger is covered with cream cheese stuffed peppers, the Drunken Steer includes a bourbon glaze and is topped with a beer-battered onion ring, and the Black Sox provides a bite with Andouille sausage.
Wheaton native Michael Morse’s first taste of the Black Sox brought a surprise.
“I didn’t know the sausage was on there,” said Morse. “The sausage added a little spice to it, and I actually really liked that. I mean it’s something different but it’s real good. It tasted awesome.”
California-born Mike Ponzio, who now resides in Aurora, enjoyed the restaurant’s Guac Burger with a big smile on his face.
“Obviously you can’t go wrong with bacon,” said Ponzio. “Bacon and cheese, (but) that’s not a burger to me, the avocado just makes it because you know when it’s fresh.”
Freshness is what it’s all about for both restaurants. That and finding the unique new flavor that burger lovers will be longing for next.
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