Guys, I’m so excited to talk about this place. Umami Burger is this gourmet burger joint with locations across the United States in California, Las Vegas, New York, and Chicago. I’ve heard of this restaurant before on The Food Network with both Guy Fieri (Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives) and Giada De Laurentiis (The Best Thing I Ever Ate) mentioning it.

When my roommate, Mike, said that we should check it out, I immediately agreed. Their Wicker Park location isn’t too far from where we live and it seemed like a perfect way to spend a roommate night. Even though I’ve heard of this place, I still wasn’t totally sure what to expect. What is Umami anyway? According to Umami Burger’s website, Umami is the 5th flavor (next to sweet, sour, bitter, and salty) and can be described as being savory and bold. I’m not sure if I’ve really experienced this 5th flavor before.

Whenever I’m about to try out a new restaurant, I always make sure to check out the menu online. I’m not the most decisive person in the world, especially when there are so many awesome options to choose from. Umami Burger’s menu really has a burger option for everyone. In addition to beef burgers, they also have chicken, turkey, and falafel and each are paired with different ingredients that would capitalize on this Umami flavor, making sure each burger would be an interesting and memorable experience.

The Vibe

Walking into Umami Burger, it definitely has a Japanese vibe to the decor, which makes sense seeing as Umami originated in Japan. There restaurant was pretty packed. The bar was full and it looked as if there was only one table open – ours. We had made a reservation online, just in case. Looking around, it was great to see such a diverse clientele. To our left was a table of 20-somethings. To our right, a party of 8 colleagues in their 50s/60s. Our server came over promptly after we sat down.

The Food

The first thing our waitress did was bring some pickled beets and pickles. She explained that it is to clean out your palate from the day. This way, you can truly taste all of the Umami flavor in your meal.

Once again looking over the menu, I actually changed my mind from their original Umami burger to one that is not typically what they offer. Umami Burger has something called an Artist series. Various celebrities will create their own delicious burger combination and it will be featured on the menu for a few weeks. Additionally, $1 from each burger sold goes to a charity.

When we went, the burger was designed by Cindy Crawford. It’s called “Cindy’s Casa Burger”. She created this burger as something classically american (as she’s from the midwest), but added some ingredients that reflect California and things her kids would like. Cindy’s Casa Burger has two jalapeño beef patties, miso mustard, crushed avocado, fresh tomato, butter lettuce, american cheese, Umami house spread and caramelized onions. But then, it’s also topped with queso fresco and tortilla chips that are tossed in salsa brava. One hell of a burger. The charity is the American Family Children’s Hospital. Everything at Umami Burger comes à la carte so I also decided to order cheesy tater tots.

The Outcome

When it came out, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The burger was so huge! I couldn’t wait to dig in. The ketchup that came along with the meal was also specially made “umami ketchup” that was savory instead of sweet – like you’d find in a store. The burger itself was pretty awesome. It was cooked at medium rare and all the toppings were delicious and came together well. My only complaint would be that there were almost too much. If i were to order it again, I wouldn’t have the tomato or lettuce, just because i feel like it almost took away from all of the other yummy ingredients and just wasn’t necessary. The tots were okay, but definitely improved with the umami ketchup.

Was it the best thing I ever ate? No, but as far as burgers go, it was pretty delicious and I’ll definitely be back.

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