On the Burger Trail: Riverwest Burger at Dino's Riverwest
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808 E. Chambers St.
There are numerous neighborhood gems in Riverwest, and Dino's – which boasts over 40 years in the hood – is certainly one.
Leo "Dino" Dinon opened the neighborhood hang in 1968. It was originally just a bar; however, thanks to his wife Rita's cooking, it soon became a cozy corner bar known for its delicious Italian fare. And that reputation continues under the ownership of Dino's grandsons, Anthony and Lawrence Lococo.
Whether you belly up to the bar, take a seat on the patio for brunch or enjoy any number of Italian favorites in the family-photo-smattered dining room, what you'll find is a low-key spot with a great vibe and friendly service.
In addition to Italian fare, Dino's also serves up six half-pound burgers including the Siciliano, the goat cheese mushroom burger and the Riverwest burger, which was our pick for our most recent trip.
It features a half-pound black angus patty, Riverwest Stein beer-braised onions, sharp cheddar and thick cut bacon on a Breadsmith bun ($11).
And it seemed the logical choice. After all, Dino's was one of the first bars to serve Lakefront Brewery's Riverwest Stein on tap in the late '80s.
The Riverwest burger is a stately looker with its shiny butter-top bun, visibly melted cheddar and bacon. It was served simply on a white plate with a side of battered fries, ketchup and a pickle.
The bun was pleasantly soft, but not so much that it didn't hold up to the hefty burger. Its edges were crisp from time on the grill, giving it a bit of additional texture.
Burgers at Dino's come cooked to order; we ordered ours medium rare and it came out perfectly cooked. The beef itself looked hand-packed. It had a meaty flavor with a nice bit of char from the grill and a hint of salt. Overall, a solid piece of meat.
Toppings were also on par. The cheddar was nicely melted over the burger. The bacon was crisp and smoky. And the onions were sweet and flavorful thanks to their contact with the full-flavored beer. Together, they offered up a bit of sweet, some salty flavor and enough umami to give the burger a balanced flavor.
It's big. It's meaty. And there's a balance in the flavors. Given that, $11 isn't too much to pay for a solid burger with fries. But, if you're looking to save a few dollars, visit on a Thursday night when all burgers on the menu are $5 until 8 p.m.
If you like your burgers thick and meaty, Dino's might just have your number. And again, don't miss burger nights on Thursdays when burgers are just $5.
Dino's Riverwest is open Wednesday and Thursday from 5 to 10 p.m., Friday from 4 to 11 p.m., Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for brunch.
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