SOUTH LOOP — Poag Mahone's general manager Nick Stiglic had baseball season and his beloved Cubs in mind when he came up with a new menu item last spring — a hot dog-topped burger.
The burger, at least, was a winner.
So much so that the $12 gut-buster is making a repeat appearance at the restaurant at 333 S. Wells St. for the month of April.
The Ballpark Burger combines a half-pound, grass-fed beef patty with a hot dog that's butterflied and grilled.
The toppings that follow — sweet relish, sport peppers, lettuce, tomato and celery salt — are layered "very carefully," said Poag's chef Gretchen Hollen. All of this goes on a pretzel bun smeared with yellow mustard. A side of nachos and a pickle spear round out the plate, with $2 cans of Old Style to wash it down.
Hollen called it a "very interesting combination of flavors." Also: "It's not the easiest thing to eat," she said. Using a knife and fork, as many do, is acceptable here.
Those wary of the Ballpark Burger's charms or calories should know there are wackier burgers out there (sandwiched between Krispy Kreme doughnuts, stuffed and topped with cheese and served by a pro wrestler, etc.).
Poag's has a good track record with burgers. GQ's chief food writer Alan Richman put the Poag's burger on his 2006 list of 20 burgers to eat before you die. The restaurant gets its grass-fed beef from Rain Crow Ranch, a family farm in Missouri, Hollen said.
"It's quality with every layer," she said. "You have to just attack it. And make everyone else at the table order it so you don't feel so bad."