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Umami Burger Readies for Wicker Park, Will Offer 'Secret Menu' Cheesy Tots

By Alisa Hauser | September 5, 2014 5:58pm | Updated on September 8, 2014 9:40am
 Umami Burger is planning to open on Sept. 18 in Wicker Park.
Umami Burger Readies for Wicker Park Opening
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WICKER PARK — Umami Burger, a California-based chain known for its "savory fifth taste," is gearing up to make its Midwest entry in a fast changing strip of Wicker Park's Milwaukee Avenue packed with new restaurants.

Located next to the new Max's Wine Dive and across the street from Rick Bayless' new Xoco restaurant, Umami Burger's Wicker Park outpost at 1480 N. Milwaukee Ave. is scheduled to open at noon on Sept. 18, said Veronica Rathbourn, a spokeswoman for Umami Restaurant Group.

Umami's burgers are made with a briney sauce that includes soy, anchovies and vinegar that, one critic says, "stuff you and make you want more."

In addition to burgers, which are served with homemade ketchup, the eatery will offer eight craft beers on tap and a whiskey-based cocktail list that is unique to the Chicago location, Rathbourn said.

All of Umami's burgers are served on a proprietary Hawaiian style bun, made offsite, which uses vegetable based ink to "stamp" each burger bun with its logo.

Though the menu is not yet finalized for Wicker Park, Rathbourn said the eatery will likely open with a slightly smaller menu for the first couple of months but still have Umami's "core, classic burgers," such as a house burger made with parmesan, shiitake mushrooms, tomato and caramelized onion.

Umami's Wicker Park location will offer a burger inspired by Chicago: The Calabrese, made with an Italian calabrese sausage patty topped with truffle cheese fondue and giardiniera.

View photos and descriptions of Umami's classic burgers here.

Rathbourn said a typical order costs between $10 and $15 for the burger. The sides, which are purchased a la carte, are usually enough for two people, she said.

Side dishes include sweet potato fries, onion rings and cheesy tots, a "secret menu" item available at every Umami but not listed on the menu.

The cheesy tots, which cost $5, are deep fried tater tots infused with aged parmesan and cheddar cheese.

Founded in 2009 in Los Angeles, Umami Burger's new location near the southwest corner of Milwaukee Avenue and Honore Street will be the fast growing chain's 24th outpost.

The site was once home to a Burger King, which was demolished several years ago. Last month, Umami named former Burger King president as its CEO, according to Nation's Restaurant News.

Early Friday, the excitement for the neighborhood's newest eatery was evident as a few passersby watched workers prepare to install Umami Burger's neon orange and yellow sign.

Dean Echo, a Wicker Park resident, was snapping a photo of the sign on her cell phone.

Echo, who moved to Chicago from Los Angeles, said that she has been to several of the chain's California locations and "loves the taste" of the burgers.

"They just taste better and have amazing homemade ketchup," Echo said.

Samara Friedman, a training manager, said the restaurant has hired close to 60 people.

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