Saturday, September 20, 2008

Kuma's Corner

On an unassuming stretch of road, in whatever Chicago neighborhood is just west of Roscoe Village, sits a corner bar not unlike other corner bars. From the outside, it's average in stature, except that people pour out the door, waiting for a table or a bar stool. A year ago there was no queued wait, but thanks to the Chicago-centric PBS program, "Check, Please!" Kuma's Corner has been unearthed as a gem.

Two things set Kuma's apart from other pubs with grub. The first thing that hits you, other than the smell from the fryer, is the bewildering clamor of electric guitars and screeching man-falsetto. This place is a heavy metal haven, make no mistake about it. Album covers from bands I've never heard of line the walls. All of the menu items are named after more bands I've never heard of. Dave digs it, I ignore it.

The second thing that makes Kuma's unique, and the reason I keep returning, are the fantastic burgers, which comprise 90% of the menu offerings. Toppings range from traditional condiments and cheeses to stuff that makes you scratch your head and say, "Really? I mean, seriously?" There are well over 20 burger combinations, all beginning with 10 ounces of delicious red meat stuffed into a pretzel roll. There's a rotating monthly special burger. Each selection, as I mentioned, has a metal band namesake. Check it out:

This burger made me really, really happy. I would happily order it again.

A burger sans bun, avec a bunch of extra meat. More like a dinner skillet than a sandwich. Dang, that andouille sausage was spicy!

Diana and Mike enjoyed their first visit to Kuma's, regardless of their facial expressions. Hey, it's an action shot!

Good stuff to know before you go:
If you go at peak dinner hour, expect a wait. Arriving just before 8:00, we happily cozied up to the bar and ordered rounds of craft beers for about an hour-and-a-half before our table was ready. Just after we were seated, we noticed that the wait for tables had completely ceased, and that there were a few open ones around us. Take note: go late, avoid the wait. Or just be happy with the interesting beer selection, like we were.

The music is loud, but conversation is still possible. Keep in mind you're eating dinner in a bar, not at Charlie Trotter's.

The ventilation isn't the greatest. At first, you might find the smells coming from the tiny, open kitchen overwhelming. You'll get used to it, and it will become unnoticeable. And, it's worth it.


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Jude said...

Love Kuma's corner. My favorite restaurant in the world is also a few blocks away. I'm talking about Hot Doug's of course :)