Essentials: Burger, Redhot Ranch, Chicago
The city's most essential smashburger
For a while, it seemed like every hip place in Chicago was trying to create their version of a fast food burger. While many are excellent, none tops the majesty of this bargain joint’s flat-top masterpiece. Why pay $20 when the real thing is under $5, fries included? Redhot Ranch keeps it simple, with smashed patties, melty American cheese, and special sauce combined to glistening perfection and served in unassuming, old-school digs. It’s available at Redhot’s two North Side locations, but also at their sister stand-up joint near White Sox field, 35th Street Redhots. That location is especially fun to visit when there’s no baseball—just an empty parking lot and no wait for deliciousness. —Josh Modell
Josh Modell began his writing career with vicious critiques of his grade school’s cafeteria food. From 2000-2018, he worked in various editorial capacities for The A.V. Club, from copy boy to editor-in-chief to editorial director of the whole Onion Inc. empire. He is currently the executive editor of Talkhouse.
Kevin Necessary is a freelance illustrator and editorial cartoonist. He is currently the editorial cartoonist for The Cincinnati Enquirer. His cartoons are syndicated by GoComics, and his cartoons have been published in a variety of publications such as The Week and Politico. A Cincinnati native, Kevin will fight to the death defending Cincinnati chili. He lives with his wife, Julie, and three cats, Huckleberry, Grayson, and Bonnie.