I actually wrote this on facebook a few weeks a go, but I felt it would gain a better audience here.
The Billy Goat Tavern
I walk in to the unassuming hole-in-the-wall beneath the goat that graces the façade of the famous Billy Goat Tavern. I look around at all the satisfied customers chatting about as Tom Jones’ “It’s not unusual” plays on the jukebox. It had a decades-old den of deliciousness has been a favorite spot for Chicagoans to grab a burger and a beer since 1934, and it is easy to see why. In 80 years, this restaurant has changed very little. It has the same food, same friendly service, the same smiling customers that Greek Burger slinger Sam Sianis envisioned all those years ago. After taking a look around at the hundreds of photos of all the celebrities that have graced these seats, not to mention the countless newspaper clippings from Chicago columnist Mike Royko lining the walls, I stepped up to the counter to place my order, only to find out that the restaurant is cash-only. Fortunately, they have an ATM next to the jukebox. So, with cash in hand, I return to the aforementioned counter and I ordered a bacon double cheeseburger, chips, and a coke. My meal was ready within minutes. After the addition of some diced onions and a little ketchup, I sidled up to the bar, where they had “Wayne’s World 2” playing on TV. It was a great atmosphere for a meal.
Upon my first bite into the sandwich, I quickly realized what made it so great: simplicity. Nowadays, there are a lot of restaurants and food places getting creative with the hamburger. I’ve had Hawaiian-style burgers, turkey burgers, deconstructed burgers, and over-priced “specialty burgers” containing ingredients I’ve never even heard of. But the amazing flavor of the Billy Goat burger comes from the fact that it is exactly that: a burger, plain and simple. No frills, no special additives; just two beef patties with American cheese and bacon, saddled between two buttery kaiser rolls. You want pickles? Onions? Relish? You can add it on at your leisure at the stand next to the grill. With nothing extra to get in the way, it’s much easier to enjoy the mouth-watering flavor of the historically famous Billy Goat Burger. I finished my coke, and ordered a house beer, a Billy Goat Dark. It was incredibly refreshing. Bitter with a splash of caramel, it was certainly a great way to cap off a great meal.
On my way out, the friendly busser bid me a fond farewell, and I left feeling satisfied.
If you’re visiting Chicago, moving to Chicago, or have lived here all your life, The Billy Goat Tavern on Michigan Ave. is not to be missed. Sit down and stay awhile.