Leadbelly serves a good burger

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Leadbelly serves a good burger

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By Tristan Bugos


They say a good burger is hard to come by, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth when you step foot into Leadbelly. Located at 5739 W Irving Park Rd., the recently opened burger joint has gained much publicity as a hot new spot in Chicago. It has been given outstanding reviews by The Chicago Reader, TimeOut magazine, and Chicago’s Best television show. Leadbelly offers over ten types of burgers, six types of french fries, and spiked milkshakes for those who want a little kick. Every meal is served with their signature homemade sugar cookie. On the interior, entertainment such as a sports game or rock videos can be seen on the plasmas on the wall.

As you enter Leadbelly’s, it’s a small, inviting atmosphere that’s filled with the aroma of burgers. It’s all-counter-service with about five tables inside and a large sidewalk patio. All around the front counter, dozens of different types of craft beers are scattered. The walls are covered with photographs of musicians such as Kurt Cobain, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, and Led Zeppelin. The guy at the counter who took my order named Keith is in fact, a Lane alumni. We had a brief conversation and he talked about how when he went to Lane, it was an all boys school.

The owner of Leadbelly, named Nicole Masse O’Brien, used to be a former CPS teacher. Born and raised in the Portage Park area, O’Brien stepped away from teaching after the Chicago Teacher’s Union strike to fufill her life dream of opening up a restaurant. The menu is themed in lou of the legendary blue and folk musician Huddie William “Lead Belly” Ledbetter. Each item on the menu is named after Lead Belly’s songs.

“I’ve been wanting to start a restaurant for some time now, and we love the area,” Masse O’Brien, who has been cooking for friends and relatives for years, told Heather Cherone from DNAinfo Chicago. “It needs a place that sets it apart from other neighborhoods.”

I ordered an original Leadbelly burger with fries, about $9, that came to our table in a mere ten minutes before I knew it. As my mother and I patiently waited for our food, we enjoyed their rock n’ roll music and trivia cards that seemed easier to answer for adults over twenty years of age. My mouth watered while looking at other customers’ plates.

The signature Leadbelly burgers are stacked high with your pick of six different types of cheese and their homemade siracha pickles. A large appetite is required because these burgers are tasty and quite filling. My stomach was as full as can be until I remembered the delectable-looking butter cookie and scarfed it down. Their “almost famous” butter cookies are topped with crushed pecans and white/milk chocolate. I couldn’t leave until I bought a dozen in a glass jar for only ten bucks.

Overall, I’d say Leadbelly is a top notch location that gets five stars. Definitely a spot everyone should eat at to experience for themselves because the vibes and flavors simply cannot be translated over text.

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